Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you trained for nine months to prepare for a marathon. Each day, you got up early, showed up with your running shoes on, and completed your run for the day. In order to keep your muscles strong, you also hit the weight room a couple of times a week. 

Sometimes it rained, but you showed up anyway. Sometimes it was too freakin’ hot, and so you downed some extra water and did the work anyway. As injuries crept up, you tended to them, while keeping your focus on finishing the marathon. 

Now, here you are on the morning of the event, excited to cross the finish line. You bounded out of bed, fuel your body well, and head out the door. You start off strong, and then find yourself fighting off the what-was-I-thinking self-talk that is trying to sabotage you. Finally, you’re a quarter of a mile from the finish line and you can see there’s no one there. 

Sure, there’s a yellow line indicating you have, in fact, completed the marathon, but that’s it. No medal, no cheering, no nothing. How would you feel? Here’s how I would feel— 




I showed up, I paid for the whole experience, and I would want to hear the sound of accomplishment. I would want that medal too! No medal (or trophy, for that matter) has ever been wasted on me. I still beam with pride when I look at the trophies I collected early in my career. I’m proud of the courage I displayed in all of my efforts, and the medals help me remember. 

Without the cheering, the medal, and the support offered by events, there would be no events. No one would show up for them. Why would they? Anyone can put on a pair of sneakers just about anywhere and run 26.2 miles, but most people don’t. They put in the effort when they have an event to look forward to, complete with cheering, medals, and delicious treats along the way. 

Take away any element, and some people might show up, but few will bring their best effort, much less sign up for the next one. The same is true in all areas of our lives where showing up and doing our best matters—i.e. at work.   

Your team members show up because they want to bring the best of what they have to offer in order to accomplish milestones, in their career and for their employer. They want to launch great products and services, and when they do, they want to acknowledge everyone’s efforts and celebrate before moving onto the next project. 

Some companies used to celebrate, pre-pandemic, when the rules of engagement seemed clear-cut. Post-pandemic, many companies and leaders have become complacent with celebrating milestones, which continues to spark complacency and resignation across industries. If we want to keep good people post-pandemic, we have to come back to the fundamentals of what engages and empowers people— 

  1. Establish the finish line,
  2. Cheer,
  3. Support,
  4. Celebrate,
  5. Reset.

In an effort to reduce contact between people, many leaders are forgoing meaningful celebrations, leaving their team at the white line by themselves. Sure, they finished, but … that’s it. 

Here’s to your greatness, 

Misti Burmeister 

Misti Burmeister helps companies and leaders motivate and inspire excellence. For nearly 20 years, she has facilitated communication that results in trust, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit