AWARDS, HONORS, BELLS, AND WHISTLES
Nancy Mramor Kajuth, Ph.D.
When I won the same award for my book, Spiritual Fitness as the Dalai Lama won in a different category, I was so shocked that I almost dropped the award! I was so deeply touched and in disbelief. Then I thought of the usual protocol that I see on so many social media posts: “humbled and honored.” Was I humbled and honored? I was certainly humbled, because of the notable connection. And what I really felt was surprised, deliriously happy, and grateful.
There are a lot of awards and recognitions available to those who would seek them. And they do lend credibility to your work. But there are important questions to ask yourself before you journey down the path of recognition. So, prior to putting yourself out there check out the possible outcomes so that you can make it a winning adventure no matter how the story ends.
Why do you want this particular award? If you want it to feel better about yourself or your work, and you don’t receive it you’ll feel even worse than you did before. And if the person who wins it is deemed less qualified than you there may be resentment or other negative emotions. When you pile resentment on top of disappointment, it makes the whole process an empty pursuit in which your end up feeling worse about yourself instead of better. But if you want the award to add a feather to an already feathered cap or one that is just beginning, then it may be worth it to go for it, knowing that you can accept whatever outcome you achieve.
“What purpose will it serve?” comes next in line. If the purpose is to gain exposure for an inspiring or supportive idea that can assist others, then whether you win or lose, you will have achieved your goal. It’s out there in a big way you may reap unexpected benefits just by entering a competition. Yet again, if the purpose is to feel better about yourself, then you are setting yourself up for potential failure.
Instead, ask yourself the question “Will it make the world a better place?” or more simply, “Will it inspire, make life easier or more fun, open minds, or instruct in some way?” It’s rewarding that magazines such as Inspiring Lives put emphasis on the idea and the topic along with the author whose name appears in smaller font. And if you are writing to enhance the lives of readers, then you are in the right place.
As a health and media psychologist, when I think of this question, I think of competitions such as American Idol, America’s Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars in which contestants enrich the lives of viewers with their gifts during memorable exceptional displays of unique performance art. And so yes, this is an exemplary use of a competition. And of course, you win exposure if not the final prize. Remember that the winners were not always the ones who got the most publicity!
When you notice the work of Bob Ross, the painting instructor from PBS who has become a cult hero, what do you think of first? His big trademark hairstyle? The simplicity of his work that allows those will little to no painting ability to create something that is acceptable if not exceptional? Whatever you associate with him, the fact is that when you watch Bob or work along with him to create something you never thought possible, you feel better about yourself in a genuine way that lasts.
Spreading joy and uplifting feelings can be award enough and the best reason to put your work out there without expectation. If Bob was aware of the attention he is getting, he might be rewarded by his posthumous fame. And the bells and whistles of mugs, aprons, and other souvenirs carrying his photo will assure that his legacy lives on.
In the words of Maya Angelou, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
You can learn more about Dr. Nancy at www.realconcsciousliving.com