I grew up with the story that my great-great-great grandfather, give or take a ‘great’, was the first post-office master in a small little town. It didn’t start out that way though. He owned the only general store in the area, and the town was so small, that all the mail was sent there. It didn’t take long for the general store to have a post-office. I don’t know the whole history or the time frame of the story, but there is now a street that is named after him. I get to tell everyone that goes through that small town that they will find a street with my last name on it; from there I have the pleasure to tell them the story of my great-great-great grandfather, give or take a ‘great’.
I always wonder, will I ever be able to leave behind a legacy like that, that I would be recognized for the work that I have done, for the way I have lived? Sometimes it is overwhelming, the desire to be acknowledged for what I’ve done. I don’t want you to think that I go out of my way and do things to be acknowledged, because I don’t. I work my hardest because I take pride in my work, and I want to do it right the first time and not told to do it again because it’s not good enough.
Don’t you want to be told “Well done!” or “You’re doing a great job”? Having someone recognize the effort that you are putting in, encouraging you– I find this only makes me work harder! It may only be a little bit harder, but it’s there. I give a little bit more effort, and a little bit more pride goes into what I do. I feel happy about what I’ve done, I feel I have accomplished something, and that is only with someone saying “Hey, you’re doing a good job!”
But, I find people don’t say this too often. A lot of the time, it’s what we miss that is focused on. I worked at a fastfood joint for 6 years, (and now, I am thankful for what it has taught me), but it’s so hard to find someone in any field who says, “Hey, you handled that customer well” or “Wow, you’re really fast today on the table! Keep up the good work.” Unfortunately, what came out of people’s mouths was more along the lines of “Hey, you took too long talking to that customer” or “You should have cooked the meat sooner.”
The praise that I look for and other people look for is so hard to come by. And I’ve noticed that this is a cycle, one that is negative and incredibly poisonous. The people that are not praised or encouraged, they in turn do not encourage or praise others. Sometimes we are so stingy with encouraging others, that it affects those people we should be encouraging to do the same thing we do. It spreads like a disease, from one person to the next. Ever heard the term “one good turn deserves another”? Well, I feel we have transformed that term into “one bad turn deserves another”. No longer are we treating one another like human beings, we are now treating one another like dirt; something to be walked on.
When I was a manager, I learnt something that could break the poisonous cycle. When I encouraged those around me instead of nitpicking on what they didn’t do, they were happier and took more pride in their work. In return, they told me I was doing a good job too! I didn’t do it to get a good feeling. I did it, because that is what I needed to do. To encourage others, so they would take pride in their work, just as I take pride in my work. We also had better relationships. No longer were we fighting each other. We started to go that extra step for one another. No longer were we waiting to be told to do something. We saw what needed to be done and did it. Working together was so much more fun than fighting each other. We stopped the poison. We broke the cycle. Hey, we actually had relationships and we weren’t just acquaintances. People were excited about working together.
We live a life surrounded by people. It would be amazing to see how treating each other with care, how in return we are treated.
My great-great-great grandfather, give or take a ‘great’, probably took pride in all that he did. I don’t know if he knew about the street sign or not, but he probably knew that he was appreciated. I have since changed where I work, and now I work at a farm seasonally, and I love working there. My bosses, my co-workers and myself, we all take time to appreciate what we have done for the day and the week. We take time and appreciate the customers that come in and buy our products, whether its the corn that was freshly picked and packaged, or the yummy yummy tarts that we bake. We all take pride in what we do and take the time to tell each other what we need to improve on, but we also tell each other what we did well.