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There are no participation awards in the real world

Mathew J Maniyamkott
24th Apr 2017
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Somewhere in mid-2015, Steelers linebacker James Harrison wrote a post on a social networking site that went viral almost instantly. In his post, he mentioned how he didn't let his sons accept participating trophies that they got in sports. In fact, when he learnt that his sons had brought the participating trophies home with them, he had the trophies sent back. The daunting linebacker put up an image consisting two participation trophies on Instagram with the hashtag #HarrisonFamilyValues and wrote this:

Image : shutterstock

Image : shutterstock

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy”.

His post went viral almost instantly with 19,300 likes. The number of 'hearts' he received on his post is a testament to the fact that several people shared his ideology even back in 2015. Today, a lot more people are buying into this ideology as they believe that there are no participation awards in real life. If you are an entrepreneur who is running your own business, your best might not be good enough. You'll have to put in a lot more than your best efforts to succeed as failure in business is just that – failure. There is certainly no saving grace like participation awards when your business thumps.

Awarding participation trophies can have detrimental effects on the psyche of children. They may start equating winning with being overly ambitious. There is no use in awarding young citizens participation trophies if they are going to grow up believing that launching a successful business or pursuing a lucrative career requires a much deeper level of commitment than they are willing to make. It is, therefore, important to raise children in a culture where participation trophies aren't handed out.

For achieving entrepreneurial success, young people need to believe that they can soar beyond what they consider their best efforts. There might be times when you might look failure in the eye, but even then you should trudge on and double your efforts. Your motto for success should be – Establish a new personal best today and set out to beat that record tomorrow. Refuse to settle for the participation trophy in everything you do. In fact, when young guns begin to view participation trophies as an insult to their potential, they'll aim for nothing but winning.

Harrison believes that if your best isn't good enough to win, then you shouldn't feel entitled to some kind of award just because you participated. What are your thoughts on this?

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