One day after a series of baseball games I asked my son the standard after game question:
What were the “pows” and “wows” of the games you played this weekend?
To my surprise, the fact his team had won 3-4 games was not what he wanted to talk about. The opportunities he had to play and play well, didn’t matter. In reality, he had quite a different memory forming in his mind about the weekend. As his eyes welled up with tears, he said, “I don’t understand why the coaches recognize all the other kids but they don’t tell me I did a good job.”
Being an outsider looking in, it was clear to me that my son’s need for recognition and approval topped the scales over his desire to win the game but the fact of the matter is, this is the reality for most people.
Recognition is about more than a pat on the back. Or in the workplace, a paycheck. Its purpose holds greater significance than motivating kids to win games or employees to achieve success. When examined closely, the human need for recognition is inherent to every individual. The goal of recognition is to show a person they are valued and that they have worth. Recognition is a way to make aware the meaning of one’s contribution to the greater good of an organization and the world at large. The innate need to feel personal worth and value is called dignity (Hicks, 2011). In her book, Dignity, (which I highly recommend) Hicks asserts that recognition which leads to dignity is the key to unlocking potential, conflict resolution, trust, and collaboration.
Can you imagine what a team, a business, or your family would look like if you made recognition the center piece of their mission and value statement? How would it be different with unlocked potential, resolved conflict, unity, trust, and collaboration? Pretty outstanding I imagine!
After the conversation with my son about what he wanted from baseball, the topic of recognition and encouragement became a part of our dinner table conversation. My husband, Mark told our boys two important truths:
Your significance comes from your identity in Christ not from the recognition of others.
You must give what you want to receive.
Mark challenged our family to make the month of June a Month of Encouragement!
At the end of each day we share these 4 things:
1. Who did we encourage today?
2) How did the person respond?
3) How did encouraging others make us feel?
4) What are we learning in this month of encouragement about God, others or ourselves?
Today is only June 02, 2014 so I don’t have a lot to report to you about our dinner table conversation…except these two things:
Encouraging and recognizing others does not come naturally. It is a learned trait. When you become intentional about encouraging and recognizing others, it can feel as uncomfortable as practicing a foreign language.
I am not as good at it as I thought I was but with God’s help, I can improve!
It’s your turn.
Does recognition or encouragement play a significant role in your self-identity or your ability to achieve?
On a scale of 0-10, how good of an encourager are you? Zero being you never encourage people, 10 being you encourage and recognize people in every conversation or contact you have.
Do you want to take the challenge and join us during the “Month of Encouragement”? We want to hear from you – report back on your individual or family growth when you can!
Hicks, D. (2011). Dignity: The essential role it plays in resolving conflict. London, UK: Yale University Press.