Receiving Awards

This past weekend I was honored to be awarded the Martin County Fire Rescue Employee of the Year award.  As I graciously received this award I had several thoughts regarding the accolades, rewards, and awards that we are given throughout our lives and careers.

Awards offer two things, value and validation.

1.  Value

In these economic times, finances are tight, raises are not as freely given out as they once were, we need something else that shows an employee's value to the organization or department.  As employees we enjoy the value that we feel from monetary gain and raises.  But, many of us would also say that money is low on our list of reasons to work.  However, we all want to know that we play a valuable part in our organization, and that our hard work and effort is noticed and valued.  Awards show that we, and the work we do, has value.

2.  Validation

As employees we should never wait for validation to make something happen.  We  do not need somebody else to tell us that we are good enough, smart enough, or capable enough to start and pursue the work we love.  However, awards from our bosses/chiefs/employers/peers validate us, not by giving us permission, but by confirming that we are on the right track, were headed in the right direction.

The most meaningful awards to receive meet three criteria:

1. They are in line with our passions and natural abilities.

The most meaningful awards seem to come as a surprise.  They are not awards that we have specifically worked toward achieving.  These awards come easily as we have worked toward a greater goal, the greater good, and it feels as though we have not had to work extremely hard or perform unrealistically to achieve them.  These awards come as a natural by-product of simply following our passions and doing the work we love.

2.  They are not won alone.

The most meaningful awards are not achieved by the work of one single person.  These awards only come as a result of the leadership that we have worked under, and the people we have surrounded our self with.  Leadership expert, Dr. John Maxwell, says everything rises and falls on leadership. All leaders know that they are only as successful as the teams they surround themselves with.

3.  They do not come as a result of positioning.

The most meaningful awards are not gained by political positioning, status, or eating lunch with the right people.  They are gained by the people experiencing the impact of the work you do.