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Running to Reverence

At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, right before each surgery begins, the whole team of doctors, nurses, and others stop what they are doing. They take a short moment to remember the person they’re going to conduct surgery on. They call it the moment of reverence.

The team goal is to ensure that everyone remembers the humanity of the situation. It’s about breaking the routine procedures, pausing to recognize the importance of what’s happening, and appreciating the people involved. This moment can also reinforce a core value that everyone should be proceeding with – to encourage care, precision and empathy.

The moment of reverence is a short ritual that occurs right before an important event, meeting, or talk.

This ritual can also be used by individuals. For example, a person might take an intentional pause after walking from their desk to a meeting and reflect for few seconds on crossing over from one environment to the next. Taking a moment can help a person be conscious of the others around them and the power and purpose of their work. This moment of reverence can also be a means centering as you transition from one role to another. A wise young friend of mine calls this ”being where your feet are.”

Journal entry: Things may feel out of control as we are running to get ahead or just catch up, but there is one thing we can choose to control: the beginning and end of a talk, a team meeting, a conversation or your day. How might you apply a moment of reference in your leadership and life?

*Adapted from an article in the book Rituals for Work, by Kursat Ozenc and Margaret Hagan.

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. If you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The Bible’s New Testament in the book of Matthew 11:28 KJV

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