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Rules, Rituals, and Routines – the 3 R's of success?

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

Conceivably the dullest of structures are often those that help us the most. The humble routine is boring, tiresome, predictable, and most pragmatic of structures.

Most of us do not necessarily espouse to loving routines, yet we enjoy the outcome of ticking a box, closing a door, making a bed, and knowing that we started our day with a few small achievements, successes, or just got the busy stuff done and out of the way!

Who doesn’t love the end of the chore list, the organized desk, the clean kitchen, or the empty file tray? Life without routines can, and often does, result in a mess – both visually, mentally, and professionally.

Routines are the stuff of success because they create two key behaviors that make growing and improving possible: discipline and consistency. These two nouns do not inspire or resonate with excitement, yet without them, the road to success is met with delays, struggles, and sometimes even failure! Routines are the foundation of order, and order is a key construct of success!

Counter to routines is the notion of Ritual! Rituals are, in short, comforting routines. Associated at times with cults, ceremonies, or group events, rituals are, in fact, small steps we take to find that peaceful place or celebratory place.

From making a cup of tea thoughtfully; warming the teapot and finding your favorite cup; waiting and watching the bubbles rise till the kettle whistles; pouring and waiting for those precious moments while the tea steeps, and then take your first comforting sip reflecting on how all those little steps were worth it.

The workplace, too, is full of soft, comforting rituals that should be encouraged, enjoyed, and welcomed. Perhaps the break at 11 to gather for a chat, a trip to the kitchen to peep into the fridge, the afternoon stroll around the block with some colleagues.

"Routines may be muscular, but Rituals are emotional and just as important."

Last but not least are the bones of it all. Rules are strong, supposedly unbreakable, and, if nothing else, supportive and rigid. From raising children, directing traffic, or running a project, rules are imperative. The crucible of consistency often comes in the form of ‘rules is rules', but while rules are necessary, having too many is soul-destroying.

Routines, rituals, and rules! It seems in varying degrees, each in the right measure brings wisdom and value to the business world in ways that allow creativity to flourish, safety to exist, and targets to be met. There is no clear answer, nor is there one clear path to growth, success, retention, or creativity but understanding routines, rituals, and rules allows you to decide how much, of which kind, and in what measure to incorporate into your day, your teams, or your company.

Routines and rules abound; perhaps you may have more than you need. However, I sense that you may be missing some warming rituals. Rituals entice, engage, and create loyalty in your teams; they are the moments to look forward to; collective sharing, being, and collaborating strengthen the bones and muscles of the company.

"Cohesive, strong teams are not just intellectual units, or organizational puzzles snapped together – they are emotional collectives, and the glue can often be in the rituals that serve everyone!"

Want to build a cohesive team?

  • Focus on rituals, not more routines or rules.

  • Create some moments in the day or week where a warming ritual becomes a part of the measure of the team.

  • Look to open communication with steps for each to follow: a virtual Zoom or Teams where everyone arrives with a drink and snack and shares a recipe or two.

  • A 15-minute book club sesh where each share the book they are reading, completed, or just considering.

Rituals bring with them a relaxed sense of ease – no formality or demand – just welcome and acceptance. Rituals are the glue and the emotional resilience we lean on in tough times.

When the heart is strong, the body and mind flourish!


Dina O'Reilly is 4xi's Strategic Partnership & Growth lead, she is also our Project Management Office lead, and Ghostwriter in Residence, providing BLOGS+ services to clients. To learn more, contact Dina at


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