Recognition Is About Me! (OK, Fine, You Too.)

chess-1483735_1280 (1) (1) (1) (1) (1).jpgI’m tired. I know you are too. I’m tired of work. I’m tired of life. I’m tired of reading the same articles on millennials. I’m tired of Bethenny Frankel (Team Carole!). I’m tired of a dumb president. I’m tired of drinking. I’m tired from drinking. I’m tired of seeing that same TV commercial over and over (we all have one). I’m tired of you. I’m tired of me. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired.

Many months ago, I was on a call with someone. We were commiserating about our weariness. Between work, life, more work, and more life, he was telling me how some days left him completely wiped out.

But then he told me something else. He mentioned that no matter how exhausted he is on some nights, he makes sure to spend a few minutes shooting a quick email to recognize someone. He said this to me very quickly, very much in passing.

Good thing I wasn’t too tired to catch what he said.

I’m sure it never occurred to him that his remark would stick in my head immediately, and to this day. Actually, I think about his comment surprisingly often for two reasons:

  1. He has inspired me to do the same. Since our conversation, I strive not to let fatigue or “busyness” get in the way of recognizing people. I don’t always succeed — I admit to prioritizing potato chips over people sometimes. Still, I’ve been trying harder.
  2. You never know whether what you say, even incidentally, will resonate and reverberate. (I have no doubt that each of my friends and colleagues hangs on every one of my syllables.)

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Recognition is the glue that binds a company together. I’ve been a broken record, repeating such brilliance for years. Yet it was a single by-the-way remark that caused that record to scratch for a moment and remind me of the importance of appreciating others.

For starters, recognition makes the other person feel great.

You know who else likes to feel great? I do. Praising other people is as much about them as it is about me. If I tell you how awesome you are, I’m doing it to make me happy, too.

Now let’s keep it even more real: When I make you look good, I make myself look good — because everyone likes someone who appreciates someone else. Does that mean I’m scheming and plotting about how to wield recognition as a ploy to elevate myself? Yes. No. Sort of.

Who cares! My intentions don’t make me a crappy human. They just makes me human. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why you choose to commend others, only that you do. When it comes to recognition, motives are less important than consequences.

The truth is that I recognize people not solely because it makes them feel good, not because it makes me feel good, not because it makes them look good, not because it makes me look good. I do it for every one of those reasons. 

And that’s OK. That’s more than OK. The end result benefits everyone. (And hey, want to read blog posts about recognition that are way more amazing than this one? Check out the musings of Paul Hebert. Great stuff! See what I did there?)

With all that in mind, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the person I mentioned earlier, a guy who refuses to let exhaustion get in the way of appreciation. Jonathan Burg, you reminded me of the importance of saying thank you. So thank you.


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