Our kids seem to be learning that everyone gets a trophy.
Our kids seem to be learning that everyone gets a trophy.
October 23, 2015 7:00 AM CDT

Entitlement leadership

Full Contact Project Management

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Maybe the problem with America today is we’ve come to believe in a sense of entitlement. Our kids seem to be learning that everyone gets a trophy. Just show up, try your best, and participate. You’re entitled to it. Yikes!

Thankfully, we still have some clear-thinking people in our country. People like Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison come immediately to mind, as he made news recently. His two sons received “participation trophies” for one of their activities, so James notified the organization that the trophies are being returned until such time as his boys earned one because of excellence, for performance, or – here’s a concept – winning.

Of course, Harrison’s action doesn’t sit too well with a majority of the media, as well as a sizable chunk of the parents of little kids, who seem to be thinking, “Oh, the humanity! My little Johnny might be harmed forever by this travesty!”

Now, imagine it’s one of those days that you take your kid to the office, or out in the field as you check on various jobsites. What’s the message you want to give him? Will you explain that all of your employees, with all of those high-paying jobs, are working regardless of the degree of skill or training they have? Whoever shows up in the morning gets a day’s pay, no matter the productivity? Will you tell your kids that you got all of those contracts and lined up all of that work just by you showing up?

If you’re smart and really love your kid, you’ll teach him – show him – that your operation takes a lot of hard work, dedication and determination by your team. To do any less would be like handicapping him. They’ve got to know what the stakes are: You can either win it all or lose it all. It’s serious business. You don’t just “show up” for work.

Recently, we saw this play out on a high-speed French train. Three American servicemen vacationing together knew that something was wrong. Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos saw the terrorist come into their car, armed with an AK-47. Their considerable training and survival instincts had kicked in, and they immediately took action when they heard the sounds of his heavy weapon being loaded. The three looked at each other and said, “Let’s go!” And they foiled the attempt of a terrorist to commit mass murder.

Here’s the thing. The train wasn’t empty. There probably were dozens or hundreds of people aboard. Three Americans took action, along with one Briton and one French national. The rest of the passengers watched. They were passive, remained in their seats.

Very much like Todd Beamer and his friends aboard that ill-fated United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, they recognized the peril and took action. The bottom line is that if we reward kids for doing nothing, what is their incentive to try doing something? Instinctively, kids want to show off, and show you what it is that they can do. The want to make you proud of them. They know if they are doing well or not. They pick it up from their teammates.

Expect high achievement in your kids, demonstrating it for them with the hard work that your company receives from you. May they never see a “participant” award in your trophy case.


About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.

 

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