Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Doing your duty

Wednesday (today) was the "cut-off" date at work for submission of awards and recognition of subordinates.  As a supervisor, I have the opportunity to recognize and recommend awards for folks who report directly to me.  While I was going about my daily activities today, the number 2 man at my place of employment stopped by my office and prodded me to submit recommendations for award.  I explained to him that I refuse to celebrate mediocrity, and as soon as someone distinguished his/herself above and beyond what is generally required, I would be happy to provide the award recommendation.

Needless to say, that did not go over particularly good.  This lead to an intense discussion on the "everybody wins" mentality which seems to be overtaking America.  In youth sports, everyone gets recognition.  We don't keep scores to distinguish "losers" because that would damage their fragile self-esteem.

Several years ago, there was a movement in the American educational system towards "creative (or inventive) spelling."  The general concept is that as long as the word is "phonetically" correct, it does not matter the letters used: for example: "k-a-t" for cat or "g-h-o-t-i" for fish (gh as in enough, o as in women, and ti as in constitution).  This is wrong, if just being phonetically correct was enough, why do we have dictionaries? Anyway, I digress.  To me it is the equivalent of Nietzsche's philosophy of "Perspectivism" from Beyond Good and Evil which states truths (and by proxy the concepts of right and wrong) are merely in the perspective of the pursuer of the truth.  It is the "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" argument.

Heaven forbid we actually use opportunities to demonstrate the reality of life that there are right or wrong actions (especially when requirements are succinctly laid out in a position description.  There should be consequences to failing to perform at the required level, and should not celebrate just doing enough to get by.  We should make every effort to excel at what we do; not just in sports, but in our chosen career fields, our families, our education, our service, and our worship.

The basic theme is displayed in the Bible.  In Luke 17:7-10, we read:
"But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?  Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.  So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."
The message to me seems to be don't expect praise or recognition for simply doing your job.  We should strive for excellence in our person and all we do.  I do not expect reward when I am just getting by, but then neither do I when I am performing above and beyond expectations.  I appreciate the pleasant surprise, but never expect it.  I guess it is just part of who I am due to the era I was raised.

Do you expect reward or recognition for just doing your job? Or do you do your best to excel whether you are recognized or not?


  1. Donald,
    Have missed reading your blog; I pray all is well. As an HR executive, I was always opposed to celebrating mediocrity-I never believed in service get rewarded for coming to work everyday by earning your pay and keeping your job. I'd sooner give awards for're supposed to do that too, eh? Good for you for standing your ground, even when it's difficult. I never supported trophies for every kid playing won't treat them that way, so why should we??
    Glad to "hear" your voice again.
    Peace and good to you.

    1. Chelle,
      Glad to be back. Since returning to work (and going on vacation), finding the time to write gets a bit frustrating. And of course, there is always something "else" which seems to vie for my attention.

      Also glad my opinion is accepted. I admit to having a skewed set of "ideals" sometime, so sometime I know I will get flak from stating them.

      Thanks, as always, for your views.

  2. excellent blog post. i couldn;t agree more. thanks!