Lately I’ve been hearing lots of “inspirational” stories about people “reinventing” themselves in response to our challenging economic climate. For example, this one from CNN describes a couple forced to sacrifice “beloved trips to the opera and museum” inÂ order to work on a farm (tragic, ain’t it?). I saw another on Fox News last night, a touching personal story about a thirty-year financial sector veteran who took a job “in retail” to make ends meet. I believe she was described as “heroic”.
As my young colleagues might say: “Lolwhut?” Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s wonderful that these people have adapted to the present economic situation, but since when is supporting yourself some heroic act? Isn’t it what you’re supposed to do?
Throughout my career, I’ve encountered many individuals who think they’re special for doing what they’re supposed to do–workers citing their completion of projects on-time as justification for a raise; salaried employees trumpeting the fact they stayed 15 minutes late (or, god forbid, came to work on Saturday) to meet a deadline. Since when does doing the job right merit special recognition?
When performing a task, you inevitably fall into one of three categories:
Lame (“You suck.”)
You don’t do the task, you do it poorly, or you do it too slowly.
Normal (“Thank you.”)
You complete the task as expected.
Awesome (“You rock!”)
You do the task better or more quickly than expected
If you suck, you should be punished. If you rock, you should be rewarded. There are no points for normal.You don’t get a pat on the back for doing what you’re supposed to do. There’s no reward for fulfilling your obligations.