How Celebration Supports Growth and Learning


Is celebrating a regular part of your practice as a facilitator and event leader? Or are you concerned too much positivity will feel forced, and just be a band-aid covering the hard stuff?

Unfortunately, focusing exclusively on constructive feedback and the things that need to be improved, is a common trap that both participants and facilitators can fall into. 

Since our brains are wired to think more negatively (as they all are due to negativity bias), celebration is an essential part of rewiring the brain to take in the good, along with “the bad” and develop self-efficacy moving forward. 

Self-efficacy is the belief a person has in their own abilities. It’s the overarching belief someone has about their likelihood to succeed, to meet challenges, and to reach desired goals successfully. It’s integral to learning because it drives people’s conviction whether they can develop their skills or not.

Let’s dive into why celebrating is an important part of learning experiences, both for facilitators, and participants alike!


1️⃣ Start by celebrating yourself

Just like in airplanes when adults must put on their oxygen masks before supporting children to do the same, facilitators must be willing to celebrate themselves in order to support their audiences.

As an event leader, start by thinking about what you can celebrate yourself for – progress you have made in your design process, something you are proud of about your leadership style, or gratitude you have for support you have received. 

As facilitator Neelu Kaur says in her recent book on self-advocacy, Be Your Own Cheerleader, “Celebrating our successes actually helps us be better cheerleaders!” 🙌

Role modeling celebration so that audiences can do the same further builds connection between facilitators and participants. 

At a recent Scaling Intimacy debrief circle, lead facilitator, Joanna Miller, took time to celebrate herself for initiating a grounding mindful moment with the team before the start of the training. Witnessing this moment of self-acknowledgement led the team to erupt in celebration and empowered others to do the same. 

If you’re ever feeling a bit shy to celebrate a big or small win with a group, you might also want to remember that self-efficacy has been found to prevent burnout, job strain, and stress!

2️⃣ Celebrate your participants

Since celebration can often be misconstrued as self-centeredness, it’s important to support your participants to get comfortable and fully embrace celebrating themselves. Here’s how both your design and delivery can help to do just that: 

✍️  Normalize celebration by weaving it into your experience design.

  • Invite participants to all share one thing they can celebrate or appreciate about themselves. It might be a risk they took outside of their comfort zone, or a new approach or mindset they took throughout the learning process. 
  • Invite participants to share moments of gratitude and appreciation out loud or in the chat for one another. When audiences recognize the specific contributions of others and how it positively impacted them, celebration expands twofold.

👩‍🏫 Amplify and acknowledge your audience.

  • Thank each person by name after they have shared their perspective out loud. 
  • Appreciate anyone who is brave and asks clarifying questions in the large group.
  • Introduce guidelines such as “Progress over Perfection” to support participants to take an empowering growth mindset. Then, celebrate when learners have taken a step forward in the learning journey, honoring their progress instead of only focusing on outcomes.

3️⃣ Celebrate each other’s success

While giving feedback is often associated with an emphasis on what went wrong or what could be improved, we believe that all feedback can be framed in a positive light, and that starting with what went well supports the receiver to be more receptive and open to integrating the feedback. We think of this as a practice of giving and receiving feedback as a gift. 🎁

With each learning-by-doing practice breakout we design at Scaling Intimacy, we include peer-coaching using the feedback framework: Plus and Delta. 

A PLUS is something that went well, or something you loved or appreciated about your partner’s leadership. This form of celebration inspires learners to continue taking similar positive actions.

🔺 A DELTA is framed as “what would have been even better for me…” This phrasing helps feedback givers offer solutionary feedback, which keeps it in a positive tone. The  “even better” emphasizes that whatever happened was already good, and stating “for me” helps the giver remember that they are sharing from their own personal experience, not sharing a universal truth. 

The deltas can also be positive and encouraging, they don’t always have to be critical! Deltas can be introduced to add an extra highlight or “cherry on top” suggestion to enhance things even more.


Getting comfortable with celebration can be challenging! For many of us, it’s outside of our cultural norms. To practice, we’re teaming up facilitator Neelu Kaur, at our upcoming Virtual Connection Lab.

Neelu will help us practice Celebration through the lens of macro and micro accomplishments and create a mindset shift to focus on our resilient moments. You’ll also learn new exercises that help guide a group or team to celebrate their big and small wins.

✨ Join our upcoming Virtual Connection Lab on June 21 at 11am PST | 2pm EST with Neelu Kaur, Facilitator and author of Be Your Own Cheerleader. ✨

Use coupon code “CELEBRATIONBLOG” to register for your first Virtual Connection Lab for FREE. Sign up here or click below.👇



Romy Alexandra is a learning experience designer and experiential learning trainer on a mission to humanize learning spaces.