I read Don Yeager’s recent You Don’t Get Participation Awards For Showing Up At Work at least three times last night. He explains how Steeler’s James Harrison recently returned some trophies his kids got for simply participating in some school event.
I’m not sure I could do that, let alone make a public spectacle of it, but his words make a lot of sense:
“I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best,” said Harrison on his Instagram page. “Sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better.”
It’s definitely how I feel about work these days. I’ve got a lot going on, and no matter how hard I work, I still feel like I come up short. Sometimes it’s just a personal let down, sometimes it’s something I wish I had done better after the fact, and sometimes the client spots a shortcoming before I do. Sometimes I do a great job, but nobody notices. I’ve got a lot of practice to start earning any awards or accolades.
When the work is rewarding — and it is more often than not — it definitely doesn’t come from some recognition for just showing up and trying my best. Where would we be if our collective progress depended on that kind of external motivation?