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No Participation Trophies

One of my mantras is that “You are either in motion or achievement”.

One of my mantras is that “You are either in motion or achievement”. If you are in motion, you are hanging out and not accomplishing much and you may very well end up with a participation trophy based on today’s standards. I see people who operate this way as more “observer” than “doer”. Plus, what type of standards are you creating with your company whenever you expect average, mediocre, or good enough? Where people are recognized and rewarded the same no matter the effort put in.

I see this idea of participation trophies as a complete demotivator for all involved because you have those who think that just showing up is enough. Contrastingly, those who work hard, strive for more, and are productive, feel completely disincentivized. Going through the motions doesn’t accomplish a thing. A leader must hold everyone to a standard that is conducive to individualized and team excellence. That brings out competitive juices. Let’s face it, competing is fun! Especially, when you win. 

Not sure who came up with this participation trophy idea, but they failed to realize that the greatest accomplishments come from people who struggle. Just like the caterpillar that lies inside the cocoon will never become the beautiful butterfly if someone cuts open the cocoon prematurely. It is the struggle itself that allows the butterfly to emerge as a strong, new creature of nature.

The situation I was born into was the opposite of privileged. My parents were both products of the great depression and visually handicapped, but that didn’t stop them. They both were first generation college graduates and accomplished incredible things, well beyond their station. As one of four sons, I was expected to work hard, respect adults, and be accountable for my actions. There were no free rides. If it was to be, it was up to each one of us. 

That struggle prepared me and my brothers for an ascension beyond our station if we chose to do so. Ascending doesn’t just happen. You must put in the work and pick yourself up over and again. Doing so, combines self-reliance with self-nurturance. As the great Vince Lombardi said, “it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” It’s up to you. You can either settle for the delusion of a participation trophy being enough or ignite your burning gut and strive for more, becoming more. 

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