Keeping it realer

Trust is built on openness – and openness is easier to maintain if there's a supporting structure.


In 2009 I attended a rite-of-passage camp in Australia where boys aged 12-16 participated together with their fathers. I was there as a trainee leader in a staff of 10. Each day we (the staff) ended the workday with a small ceremony of three steps, sitting around a fire:

  1. Taking turns, everyone said "what I did well today was ..." and then something we though we had done well.
  2. Taking turns, everyone chose a "snapshot of the day" – a moment that had stuck in our minds.
  3. Lastly, this question was posed: "Is there something that needs to be said in order for us to continue tomorrow with full capacity?" During this round if you didn't have anything on your mind you'd say "I'm clear".

This last ritual was a big one for me. Here, we had the chance to clear out anything that was bothering us, any friction like "I got irritated when you jumped the queue during dinner" – no matter how small. I dreaded it, especially if I had something on my mind, and I appreciated it when it was done. And knowing it was coming up every evening, it worked as an incentive to clear things as they came up.

This ritual of clearing at the end of the workday I have since used when making television programs with a few intense weeks of recording. It's easier and more fun to work when the air is clear(er), and it's tempting to skip the clearing. And so structures like this ritual can help.