Yay! Folder


Last week, I was off my game. It’s too soon to write about what happened. But something I’m putting a lot of effort into took a wrong turn.

I retraced all of my steps to make sure I fully understood how I got there. I talked to friends who’d been in similar situations. And then I spent some time with people I care about deeply doing things I really enjoy.

On Monday night, when a few bits of disappointment were lingering, I did something I haven’t done in a while. I revisited a folder I’ve saved called Yay!

I know. The title is cheesy. Super cheesy. But bear with me.

This is the folder where I save emails from people who’ve shared how Ei’s past work has improved their lives. There are notes from remarkable people who’ve read the Leap Year Project book, or graduated from our Fellowship, or attended one of our workplace programs, or used Leap Kit to design their next step. Many of those notes have come from people who receive these Wednesday Words. So, thank you. Really…those notes go a long way.

This tiny practice links to a grander philosophy. It’s called the Progress Principle — the simple act of noting and celebrating progress throughout your work. It’s what fuels small teams, big innovations, and some of the most important work in history. In the HBR article, “The Power of Small Wins,” by Teresa Amabile & Steven Kramer, they tell some of those stories and then note:

“Of all the things that can boost inner work life, the most important is making progress in meaningful work.”

A Yay! folder is just one tiny way to do that. If you’ve never created something like this before, it’s simple and takes less than a minute to set up:

  1. Create a folder in your email provider called “Yay” or “Hooray” or “Good things” or “Celebrations” or something fun that you’ll remember.
  2. Anytime you receive affirmation for your work or a clear sign that something is going well, save it to that folder.
  3. Revisit the folder monthly, quarterly, yearly, or whenever necessary to remember the good things that have happened along the way.

Note: You can create the same thing physically. Just use a folder or shoe box and begin to save any mail/notes/mementos along the way.

If you’re taking any type of risk to make something meaningful, this space will become vital. It will remind you and your team how far you’ve come, push you to do even better work, and keep you positive along the way. So use it early and often.

Maybe even today.


PS: This video from Ei’s recent graduation was one of the more recent things in my yay folder. Thanks for supporting and celebrating our year-long fellows last year!