I always thought the 5th of May was a national Mexican holiday. As a child I don’t recall any awareness of this celebration. About 20 years ago I first heard mention of it when speaking with some younger colleagues who said they were going out to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. What’s that I asked? The answer, “it’s a Mexican holiday. There will be lots of Tequila, salsa and chips.” I thought it was celebrated throughout Mexico but now know some Mexican states celebrate it while others don’t. It is not Mexican Independence Day but rather celebrates a battle between France and Mexico, which the Mexican’s won in what is now the state of Puebla. In the US it has become a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride. This got me to thinking aboutthe spontaneous celebrations that erupted throughout major cities Sunday night at the news of Bin Laden’s death. I had just returned home from Ohio during which I encountered higher than normal airport security scrutiny at CVG. I’d been at meetings with little access to news (although I was able to see the wedding of William and Catherine) so decided to turn on CNN when I got into my apartment.
Like you the news took me by surprise. A plethora of feelings rushed to the surface, relief, fear, pride, jubilation and curiosity to name a few. When reports of spontaneous gatherings started appearing I must say I was surprised. It seemed as if they were mostly young people, college students waving flags and singing God Bless America and chanting USA. That would make them about age 7-11 when the horror of September 11, 2001 happened.
It had never dawned on me how the death of this terrorist could ignite people to express joy and pride in the United States-something I think has been missing for a long time. I too felt tremendous pride listening to President Obama addressing the country right before midnight. The individual Navy Seals of Team 6 who accomplished this great feat will never be recognized individually. We will never know their names. This in itself is an extraordinary lesson - a shift in focus of attention from individual ego to service for the whole.
So here are some thoughts about celebration. Our organizations, like our country have been under extraordinary stress this last decade. Our way of communicating and working with one another have been deteriorating. Celebration, rallying around something positive, an accomplishment or even a shift of focus can help all of us focus on what is good in our companies and country. The law of attraction says that what we think about we create. Bin Laden through his death has given us a great gift: the reminder that we are Americans. America, home of the free, land of the brave, built on religious freedom and opportunity for all!