When did we start giving awards for everything?
I talked to a friend the other day who had just come back from Kindergarten graduation. She asked the question that I have asked myself, when did we start giving awards for everything? I'd love to know how we got to this place.
Kids are acknowledged at each turn for their achievements regardless of not achieving anything that major. I've seen it and heard about it from friends over the years. My kid graduates lower school today and there is an event. Each kid gets some type of an award for their achievements. How come? What happened to acknowledging the one or two kids that truly did something exceptional. Is it for the parents or the kids? If each kids knows that they will get some type of an award at the end of the year then when do we teach it is ok to be just you. If you get a reward at every turn, how do we learn to fail? How do we learn from our mistakes.
Sports awards ceremonies not only acknowledge the MVP of the High School basketball team but attempt to make sure each kid gets something. Why? We all know who the MVP was and that is ok. Are we setting up our kids to get patted on the back for everything they do. When these kids go on to college and eventually the real world, are they going to be expected to be patted on the back every time they do the job right. Isn't that a given that we should do the job that we were expected to do even if that job is reading a book for an assignment and writing a paper on it. How will these kids be able to feel good about their own personal accomplishments without outside acknowledgement.
Aren't we expected to go to school, do well, graduate from High School and hopefully go on to college or perhaps a different path but the path that each person figures out for themselves. If everything these kids do is acknowledged with an award and a good job then what type of adults will these kids be?
How can we go back to acknowledging kids for a job well done without an award and giving them room to fail. At one point, this constant round of applause will stop and then what.
I had the pleasure of speaking with a group of young adults who are at Yale or have graduated this week who all have the desire to be entrepreneurs at some level. I say at some level because many of them want to work in start-ups from the onset and hope that one day they will come up with their own idea for a company.
We discussed a variety of different topics but at the end, the young woman who ran this program, asked me what my advice would be to them as they graduate college and go out in to the world. My advice was be nice to everyone you meet regardless if they seem like they are an asshole because you never know, if you have a desire to be in a particular vertical/industry then keep knocking on that door until you get in because you don't want to find yourself five years down the road in an industry that doesn't excite you and most important…..it is okay to fail. Failing is part of the learning process of life, failing is okay, failing means you put yourself our there, failing means you took a risk, failing means you have learned a valuable lesson.
After I finished, there was a noticable sigh and smile among the group. She said, that is so good to hear, it makes me feel much better.