Don’t Even Talk to Me about the Trophy

by Emily Jasper on March 23, 2010

I was a ballerina growing up. Sure, I played a number of other sports, but anywhere from 4-16 hours a week was spent in a dance studio. I was never in a location long enough to compete, so the “competition” moments for me would be at the annual dance recital. I’d be a part of the corps, dancing with larger groups in the back.

We didn’t get trophies, but if you got a solo, you were gold.

Every time one of the regulars got a solo, I felt the same sense of loss as when I missed a soccer goal or came in last at the swim meet. There were flowers and kind words, but never that solo. Taking my place in the back was always associated with failure.

Trust me, we feel it when we lose.

What you may not recognize is resilience. After a loss, we brush ourselves off. We pick ourselves up. We try again or try something else. Remember, parents? You taught us that. For some reason in the workplace, you may call it denial. We call it moving on.

The games might be different now. It could be failing on a project, losing bids to competitors, or getting screwed by office politics. When things don’t work out, it sucks.

Please don’t mock when someone fails, “Oh, did you still want a trophy for that?”

No, but some feedback would be nice. This is what’s important. If a coach can tell us exactly what angle to change to get the goal or a teacher can highlight where we messed up in an essay, you can give us feedback on a project. This applies to everyone, not just my generation.

How else can anyone improve?

I’m fortunate enough that I have a supportive circle of family, bosses, colleagues, and friends around me who don’t mock me. Instead, I see it happen to other people. In blogs or comments, on the news or tv, and even at the table next to me in a restaurant. I’m only one person, and while that’s enough to make a difference, more people should be nice, not bitter.

Stop thinking about the trophies. Think about the feedback, the steps for improvement, and the way you can win together. Your teammate isn’t your enemy, and if you had played sports, you would have learned that lesson, too.

Photo credit.