Creating Defining Moments

A few weeks ago was Maddie and EJ’s last day of school and it was also the last day for their bus driver Mary taking them and a dozen more crazies, to and from school. 

Mary’s bus company lost the contract for our school district and they will have a new driver for next year which is much to the angst of all of us.

See, Mary was not just any bus driver. She cared about each kid on her route to the point where she noticed when someone had their head down, a new scratch, a bright smile and even missing teeth. 

Mary overheard all the conversations on the bus, the wins and losses, and there was absolutely no room on her bus for bullies. 

She did not tattle on kids but she did set expectations, held the kids accountable, and at the same time….gave them space to solve their differences among themselves. 

Mary was the rock star of bus drivers and an MVP in the role she played in the lives of all the families on her route. 

She let the kids laugh and goof off, they sang Christmas carols together, and they even helped save a turtle on the side of the road. (I am still confused by that story!). 

So, the neighborhood decided we wanted to do something for Mary to send her off in style on her last day. 

As the drop-off time approached Nancy walked into my office and mentioned that we should put up a party tent since it was cold and rainy out, that way the presents, parents, and kids would have some shelter.

Sidenote…..the bus stop is literally right across the street from our house so it was a no-brainer for us to set this up.

As the bus pulled up over the bend it was as if a State Championship basketball team was returning to town….everyone started cheering…..cheering for the kids and cheering for Mary. 

Nancy was front and center with a confetti cannon and the party was on. 

Mary was stunned and the kids were thrilled to do something for her as she had done so much for them.

She cried (I am not crying, you’re crying), parents cried, everyone laughed and took pictures….and I just tried to make sure the party tent did not blow away and that there were no leftover chocolate chip cookies!

I am sure that was a day and moment that Mary will never forget, and I hope our kids hold on to that cool feeling you get when you create a special experience that will have an extraordinary impact on someone. 

The Power of Moments

For the last four-plus weeks I have had over two dozen conversations with clients, previous clients, and potential clients in the pharma, recruiting, and financial industries. 

They all share similar struggles, frustrations, and uncertainties. 

A lot of it has to do with what is our new normal, getting back out there and seeing the customers, potentially going back to the office, increased expectations, and the need to create new and more productive habits. 

I sense the frustration in leadership and I absolutely get it as we have grown through so much in the last year that what we are dealing with now seems quite….well…..opportunistic. 

It is as if the negative energy we were dealing with from external sources since March of 2020 is now permeating from internal sources. 

Not in an awful, we hate this, kind of way. But nevertheless, in a way that must be dealt with while keeping in perspective the significance of psychological safety. 

And there is the dance….psychological safety vs being soft. 

As I navigate our way through this time with my clients one of the things that has constantly been at the front of my mind was to communicate expectations, standards, and new processes through defining moments. 

A defining moment is a short experience that is both memorable and meaningful. 

Two years ago I shared with you one of my favorite books on this subject, The Power of Moments, by Chip and Dan Heath. 

In that book they share stories, lessons, and strategies on the four elements of the meaningful and memorable defining moments:

  • Elevation – Defining moments rise above the every day.
  • Insight– Defining moments rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world.
  • Pride– Defining moments capture us at our best- moments of achievement, moments of courage.
  • Connection– Defining moments are social; weddings, graduations, baptisms, vacations, work triumphs, bar and bat mitzvahs, speeches, and sporting events. 

Creating moments like these are powerful, productive, and fun. 

I encourage you to think about your people and what defining moments you could create for them and the potential results. 


Here are the things I consider when I focus on creating a defining moment for someone:

  • Why am I creating this moment? 
  • Who am I creating this defining moment for and who will be the secondary recipient of this moment?
  • What do I want the results to be? 
  • When and where do I want this moment to occur?
  • Whose help do I need and who else would like to and should be a part of this moment?
  • How cool is this going to be?! 

I have worked with several clients to help them create Defining Moments for their teams and team members and would be happy to answer any questions you have wrapped around that process. 

It has been the recent area of focus for my 30-Day Sprint and we (the client and I) had an absolute blast doing it.

And……. they knocked it out of the park!

Have a wonderful weekend!



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