Recently I was awarded the Chairman Scholarship from The Awards and Recognition Industry Educational Foundation (ARIEF), a not‐for‐profit organization which exists solely to provide financial assistance to students affiliated with member companies of the Awards and Recognition Association (ARA). The prestigious honor bestowed on me caught me by surprise and also got me thinking. What exactly do awards and scholarships do for our society? Aside from those of the monetary variety, what incentives do rewards provide?
I believe it is not so much the practice of recognizing or awarding individuals that builds character in today’s society, but the motivation it instills in those who are otherwise apathetic. Not everyone is born with the natural inclination or ambition to get involved. The will to compete, on the other hand, is inherent in all individuals. By recognizing individuals we are triggering an innate sense of competition and desire to be accepted, while motivating them to work towards a greater goal. We know that with praise comes the continued desire to excel.
An award is defined as something given to a person or a group of people to recognize excellence in a certain field. As a child looks up to his or her role model, those who recognize or give you an award venerate your peculiar kind of excellence. Though we may not say it aloud, we all seek to be recognized. The sources, however; from which we attempt to elicit recognition are incredibly diverse and depend on the individual. Whether it is your teachers, friends or unrealistically demanding parents by whom you wish to be recognized, we all seek the same respect, love and appreciation. Aside from capturing the recognition of others, award-giving encourages an individual to prove his or her own self worth. Only when one realizes that he or she is no longer competing for the affection of others but for his or her own self approval, is the practice of award-giving truly justified.
The practice of recognizing and awarding individuals, though initially motivational, can only go so far. Learned character is something that must be developed entirely on one’s own. We cannot become dependent on others to confirm our own self worth. Constantly seeking recognition from others instead of learning to be content with our own accomplishments does not make for a successful society.
Rewards are not given out forever. If one becomes reliant on others to assure themselves of their own value, then character is not built, but lost. It is because of the act of giving awards that we might come across this realization and as a result possess the ability to live in an eternal state of accomplishment.