“Do We Really Need Participation Trophies?”

Who doesn’t like being recognized for achievement or rewarded for hard work? Particularly at younger ages, but even as adults, who just can’t stand getting trophies or plaques to display? If we are honest, most of us would take them. There are bowling, softball, baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer, cycling, basketball, swimming, tennis, wrestling, sales, recruiting, and so many other achievements to honor and recognize. They are fun to get at the time, and it’s nice to be recognized for our efforts.
However, upon reflection of earning, winning or receiving the recognition, was the trophy or the plaque the real prize – what we sought and what motivated us to go the extra distance – or was it in being among the best – coming in first, second, or third to be recognized as the top performer in whatever was being measured? Of course, along with the recognition came the satisfaction, and often the financial reward, of doing well.
Rather than focusing on the prize – the “trophy” – let’s pull back and take a broader perspective at achievement and look at competing and receiving validation for our efforts but not specifically about receiving a specific prize for such achievement. 

Looking at our aging in place business, there are national as well as some local awards we can win for design excellence and recognition we can achieve from advocacy and support groups for the way we serve their members and clients. Nevertheless, our real prize is providing that service when there are no awards and no recognition other than being paid for the job we agreed to perform and having our work appreciated by the clients we agreed to serve. As long as we created a living environment that helps them, we have received our reward. This is why we are in business – not just for showing up but doing what is expected of us, and more.

Being recognized by our peers and professional organizations that we belong to is a nice pat on the back, and no one is minimizing this type of recognition. Still, that type of formal, public acknowledgment is rare. What is commonplace, on the other hand, is the satisfaction we give to our clients and ourselves in knowing that we created and implemented a solution that will enhance the quality of their lives.

It’s certainly nice to hear from our clients that we made their lives better and that we accomplished what we set out to do – possibly even exceeding what they thought they were going to be getting. This is reward enough for a job well-done. We don’t need ribbons, trophies, or plaques to confirm that we did a good job – we already know it, and our clients, as well as others close to them such as their families and caregivers, validate our efforts.

We can provide outstanding solutions for our clients by being aware of available products and construction techniques and using this knowledge to suggest and design treatments for them that are going to be superior to what others in our marketplace might create. This alone should give us satisfaction in doing our jobs well, but the satisfaction of our clients makes it doubly nice and rewarding.

We can’t rely on recognition of our work from outside sources like the media or fellow professionals to provide motivation for us to create solutions that are first-rate. We have to look inward and come up with such solutions because we know we are capable of them and that our clients on depending on us to provide them. That is where the trophies lie – in doing such an outstanding job that we never have to apologize for our efforts or feel bashful about requesting a referral from our clients.

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