A word to the ‘gold-star generation’

In the Senate meeting on Nov. 19, Chief Justice Samantha Merill asked senators to thank their justices for their hard work.  

“If you see your justices,” Merril said, “thank them because they’re staying an extra hour so we can get this (a veto decision) figured out for you guys next week. A lot of them were planning on going home tonight.”

Hearing that struck us the wrong way. 

Why should senators praise the justices for doing their jobs?

This seems to be the attitude of many young adults: a need to be appreciated and rewarded for doing their jobs. 

We’re not saying that there is anything wrong with desiring recognition, but asking for it is just plain rude.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

We are all multifaceted individuals who bring unique qualities to the table. We are all busy trying and trying to get our poop in a group, but whether you are a student athlete, a student justice, a student senator or a student co-editor of a newspaper, your time and energy does not matter more than anyone else’s. 

We all have jobs to do and commitments to fulfill. We need to remember that we signed up for it. We are obligated to follow through on our commitments.  Asking for praise for doing something you signed up to do is like saying that you and your time are more important than everyone else’s. 

The truth is, this need for recognition is not necessarily our fault, but it is something we must overcome. We grew up in a world of gold stars and participation trophies and being told that we are special. 

That’s a load of crap. 

Even at the college level, we are led to believe that by holding a certain position we are more important, more entitled, than our peers. 

Chadron State College has student leaders across all departments who put in the extra hour, or hours; who put others before themselves; and who go above and beyond to do their jobs without any recognition. A title or a position doesn’t automatically qualify any of us as a leader, and neither does costly leadership training.

President and Founder of Growing Leaders, Dr. Tim Elmore, in his book “Habitudes,” said, “Think about it: a mediocre leader believes values must be taught. An excellent leader believes that the best is already inside of people—they just need to find it. So, while a mediocre leader’s goal is to overcome weaknesses, the excellent leader’s goal is to identify strengths and focus on them.”

In the real grown-up world there won’t be someone standing over us to praise us for doing what we are paid to do. We might put in extra hours and work on a project for months, only to have it torn to shreds in a matter of seconds. We are expected to do our jobs and perform to the best of our abilities no matter what. 

Rather than ask for recognition, stand down and acknowledge the work of others.

If you are someone who needs constant praise to do your job, you will have to learn to pat your own  back. After you graduate, no one else will be there to do it for you.

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