I’ve been watching and I’ve noticed that, in the Olympics, only the top 3 competitors in any given event get a medal. They all get to have the title of, “Olympic athlete.” They all get cool jackets and other bling from their nations but only the very best get the big prize. And, for every “losing” Olympian going home with nothing but a great new coat there are countless more who dreamed and worked and gave their all but never got to set foot in Sochi.
In recent years we reached a point in our society where we became so afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings that, in many cases, we stopped awarding prizes for winning and replaced them with lovely “participant” awards. No winners means no losers and that means that no one ever feels bad about themselves. Currently it seems like, perhaps, the pendulum is swinging back. People are speaking out and saying that it’s ridiculous to give an award for showing up. Winners win. Losers lose. If you were a loser this time… well… better luck next time, but no big trophy today.
Isn’t it true, though, that there really is something to be said for “just trying?” It often takes courage and strength and determination. You can’t learn or grow if you don’t try. Sometimes we have to “just try” for a very long time before we are even within view of excellence. That doesn’t mean that we’ll never get there.
Maybe we will never “get there.” I will never cook like Mario Batali or dance like Martha Graham. Still, there is joy in those activities. My mechanic will never be Henry Ford but I’m thankful that his knowledge and skill are great enough to keep my old clunker on the road.
On the other hand, excellence should be rewarded, should it not? Some among us are faster, stronger, smarter, funnier, more talented. Isn’t it logical that we acknowledge their gifts? Others were, perhaps, not born “champions” but their sheer determination is so far above and beyond the average person that they turn whatever seeds of talent they do have into something extraordinary.
Of course, I’m not talking about telling a pee-wee soccer player he will never play in the world cup because he can’t run and kick at the same time. But as children get older, as they mature into teens and on into adulthood…
What Do You Think?
Does rewarding those who are trying steal motivation from those who are doing?
Does a failure to be rewarded for effort steal the hope of those who will never “win the gold?”
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!