How it works and why it matters
They called me ‘Da Flash’ when I played capoeira.
While the moniker was pointing to how fast I was, it’s not necessarily a good thing in this martial art.
During a batizado, the ceremony where a student receives his next belt, I tried something really stupid. I went to do a spin kick and the capoeira Master swiped me from my feet. Time felt suspended like I was Neo in the Matrix until I came crashing down on my knee. Ouch.
While this may have bruised my ego, it’s through capoeira that I was exposed to the power of discipline and the magic of rituals. The roots of capoeira run deep to the 1500s when Angolan slaves came to Brazil to toil the sugarcane fields. They masked their fighting in a ‘dance’ which makes the art-form brutal and beautiful at the same time.
The traditional instruments mimic the sound of the human heartbeat, the batizado literally translates to baptism, and all the white uniforms — well yes, they conjure up that c-word which rhythms with salt.
On reflection, the meaning I placed on Capoeira was all about community. And this is what makes rituals endure: the significance we ascribe them.
Little ‘r’ rituals
Anything can be turned into a ritual if you desire. Your morning coffee, clipping your toenails, feeding your guinea pig — all can be massaged to hold meaning. These are rituals with a lowercase ‘r’ and carry symbolism simply because you color them that way.
Big-R Rituals are more formalized and larger in scale — think religion or sports. Often these rituals are rooted in community and have been shared or performed by others in the past.
In our insistent world of distractions, demands, and dopamine hits — rituals provide us the opportunity to reclaim time. They allow us space to be present and be well.
Rituals at work
In my work, I find many clients are struggling to form new habits. They have the motivation and intention but they lack the other ingredients to make them stick.
So I often introduce the power of rituals to help them reframe how they see things. When an act is performed in a particular situation, in the same way every time, and imbued with meaning — it’s a ritual.
While your rhythms of work are how you get stuff done–your particular habits and routines — it’s your rituals of work that bear the real significance. Your work rituals hold your aspirations overhead and are symbolic of why you do what you do.
While Charles Dickens had a rhythm of walking up to 20 miles a day (like my brother) to let his mind wander, his ritual for working was much more finicky. He required absolute silence with nine particular objects on his window-facing desk, including a vase of fresh flowers, a gilt leaf with a rabbit perched upon it, and a bronze statuette of a gentleman embracing a swarm of puppies.
I’m not suggesting you follow Dickens or my Brother — only that you become aware of what suits you best.
Discovering when, where, and how you work best really does take work. It takes commitment, creativity, and consistency. But as your unique rituals gel over time — you’ll find the rewards aplenty.
I’m running a free workshop next week on this very topic. It will be a circling experience where participants will share their challenges. Together we’ll explore how to:
→ Escape the busy trap to live more intentionally
→ Adopt a mindset for change and growth
→ Manage energy with more discernment
New substack: Energizing Work
Golly, I launched a new weekly. Every Sunday I’ll send you a blast about what I’m reading about, experimenting with, and ruminating on. I also include early access to events, exclusives, and that kind of jazz.
My new cohort-based course
Super thrilled to announce my new cohort-based course: Create rituals to fulfill your work and life.
It’s for creators, founders, and career changers that are ready to rewrite their relationships to work. Participants will benefit from a proven methodology to overcome limiting beliefs, gain perspective, and commit to meaningful action.
Shits and giggles
Ray Dalio on his take of SHAPERS
The greatest haka ever
To get out of your head, get out of your house
Ben Stiller’s impression of Tom Cruise
Random check-in generator