On Recognition

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Home for the holidays.

My dad was a bigtime hockey player growing up and in college. He’s owned this trophy shelf since before I was born. My brother and sister and I used to love to play with the various cups and medals and trophies.

As we started to win our own trophies growing up, my dad made space for us on the bottom shelves to display our awards.

I wasn’t a particularly athletic little kid under the age of ten. My brother and sister received soccer trophies each year at the end of year pizza parties. I remember feeling a little sad not have anything to put on the shelf. My only athletic pursuit was riding horses, and I didn’t compete in shows. I just liked horses.

My parents once bought me a horseback riding trophy from the trophy store so I could have something to put on the shelf.

As I got older, I  began competitive sports and entering contests. I’ve now won my fair share of ribbons and medals and trophies for the shelf (Pseudo-awards like Most Inspirational and Most Improved? Got em both). My parents still keep the shelf displayed upstairs in our house, old high school awards getting a bit dusty.

Though I guess I liked the trophies, I’ve always been more about verbal affirmations. Whatever feedback my coach would give me after a race mattered so much more than the ribbon I’d be mailed after the fact. How much feedback I got from my teacher on an award was far more important than the prize or certificate.

Just a big metaphor for what we know already: salaries and bonuses are great, but we often all we really want is recognition from the people we work with. Do we matter? Are we making a difference? Are we doing good work? Are we uniquely important?

These are the trophies we really want.

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