Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yellow Shirt Day – The Importance of Tradition

Today is “Yellow Shirt Day” for me.  I try to wear a yellow shirt every Tuesday if the opportunity allows.

Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it?

About 11 years or so ago, I happened to wear a yellow shirt to work on a sunny Tuesday morning.  One of the guys who worked with me, Narender Nath, also happened to wear a yellow shirt and we joked that no one else in the office had gotten the “Yellow Shirt Memo” and nothing else was made of it.

The following Tuesday, I thought of the laugh we had had and so I wore a yellow shirt to work just for fun.

As people arrived in the office that morning, I noticed something interesting.

Everybody was wearing a yellow shirt.  Even people who didn’t own a yellow shirt had gone out and purchased one for that day.  People saw the fun we were having the previous week and wanted to be part of it.

We thought it was so funny that we went out as a team for lunch and made a point of complimenting every random stranger who was wearing a yellow shirt on “Yellow Shirt Day”.

It was New York City – nobody thought we were weird.

“Yellow Shirt Day” became a part of our culture and we tried to wear a yellow shirt every Tuesday after that.

Now it is 11 years later, almost 10 years since Narender was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and I am still wearing a yellow shirt on Tuesday.

In the busy world we live in, we often overlook the importance of tradition.

It has a way of bringing people together and keeping them together, in spirit if not in body.

It can be a source of comfort.

It can give us something that unifies us, giving us a sense of commonality or camaraderie with others.

It can provide a link back through time, providing great memories.

It can be a source of inspiration, especially if the tradition is around giving or sharing.

And sometimes, as in this case, traditions provide “an inside joke” that create a sense of levity at the moment, something needed in the busy world that we live in.

Given all of this and at a time when the world can be a challenging place to live, I think traditions are more important than ever.

Traditions, whether at work, at home or amongst a group of friends, can be a powerful force that build upon friendship and love, creating memories that will be with you forever and potentially impacting people in unanticipated ways.

Traditions are important.

If you don’t have any traditions, look for ways to create them or be open to experiencing them.  If you have them, cherish them and work hard to preserve and build upon them.

But don’t be surprised if many of the best traditions you may experience are the ones that start by accident.

And whether or not anybody else thinks they are cool, relevant or even make sense, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the tradition matters to you.

And that’s all that matters ……

…… like ‘Yellow Shirt Day”.

In service and servanthood,


My Musings-in-a-Minute entry for “Yellow Shirt Day – The Importance of Tradition” is the same as this one and can be found here.

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