I grew up less than two blocks from a couple of swimming pools. I spent most summer days there…doing crazy jumps off the board, diving for treasure, creating stories, and generally horsing around. Notice “swim laps” was not in that little rundown. Though I love swimming, I’m no real swimmer. I mean, I can swim—my dad made sure I knew how—but I could never be competitive in it.
Every year I watch the Oscars. Some years I see only a few of the actual contending films, but I watch nonetheless. I don’t like missing out. And while I love all of the spectacle, it seems to grow more and more ridiculous and excessive every year. This year, Kristin Chenoweth’s red carpet smurfiness was…wow. She seems so sweet, and yet I had the urge to choke her to see whether her voice could get even more annoying. And the “who are you wearing?” script gets old after the first 435 times it’s asked. But what a night, right?
We love movies and we love the people who make them, but most of us don’t work in an industry that is so spectacularly awesome at patting itself on the back. Can you imagine if you did? It’s hard enough to hear the one-on-one job well done, let alone have a special night that celebrates your work. “And the Oscar for best Year-End Report goes to…” Hard to visualize, isn’t it? And even for those industries that do have an awards night of some sort, well, who would watch beyond those directly connected? Accolades from the masses are rare. We are picky supporters—even the Academy Awards did away with televising the technical awards. Not so interesting for the general population, and it was one way they could chop the length of the show down to only 17 hours.
While a night of honor is farfetched, it would be nice (or kind, even) if people who managed others were gracious with praise (because words do count!) Especially in these days of 0% raises where more and more is being asked of the work force. But too often that’s not how it works. Many of us deal with bosses who like to pinpoint the single flaw in a project rather than lift up the rest that is done well. (Do they actually teach that in management classes? Because so many people I know have a boss that uses this method. Maybe they call the class “You Missed a Spot.”)
So for us mere mortals, I guess we’re stuck finding validation through less glorious ways. As in…within ourselves. No red carpet to walk. No designer to wear (unless Levi Strauss counts). Maybe not even a boss to let us know they appreciate what we do. Just little ol’ us knowing that we did our best work and hoping it makes a difference.
Because it does.
And just so you hear it once today from the “outside world”: Thank you for the job you do. Whether you are teaching kids, plowing snow, fixing a roof, designing a building, taking care of your child at home, cleaning teeth, solving problems, serving food…whatever you do that helps you take care of yourself and those you love…you are doing important work, and you are doing it well. (I’m trusting this is the case—because if you know you can do a better job, then…do a better job!)
I’d give you a raise if I could, but all I might be able to possibly raise a bit is your spirits. Maybe.
So please accept this non-award on behalf of all the rest of the world for getting up every morning and scraping a little of the crud off of things to help make it a better place. You rock.