Welcome to the Age of the Participation Trophy.
We're giving medals to kids for falling down and getting back up, we're more focused on inflating self-esteem than we are on building character, and some schools no longer allow best friends because it's not inclusive enough.
As a society, this is going to cost us. But not as much as it's going to cost the individuals who are victim to this coddling.
Listen, I'm not preaching from the pulpit here. I've been an entitled brat more than once in my life. Case in point:
When I played basketball in high school, I thought I was the greatest of all time. We won a lot of games, and I scored a lot of points. As long as the accolades kept rolling in, I was a decent human being.
Well, one day that all changed. Our school hosted a weekend tournament, and one of the teams we faced absolutely crushed us. Worse yet, I was held to just 3 points.
I didn't know how to handle this. I was devastated, of course. But how am I supposed to conduct myself when I feel this way?
Oh! I know... I'll throw a fit and start a fight in the hallway.
Well, my parents were right around the corner, and they were mortified at my behavior. They made me walk home that day, which forced me to think about how I handled myself.
Then it hit me... if I don't win, it means I didn't deserve to. But more important than that, being a decent human being shouldn't hinge on whether or not things go my way.
Rule #2 According to Bill Gates
"The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it’s not fair."
So, what will the Age of the Participation Trophy cost us?
First off, we'll have a generation of people with an unsubstantiated sense of entitlement. One can only imagine the challenge they'll face as they leave their walled paradise and venture off into the world.
When the trophies stop pouring in, people will crumble.
But more important than that, is how it affects the individual. The person who's used to receiving external validation for everything he does.
Everything he'll ever do will be a chase for validation. He won't pursue his mission, he won't do what he believes is right, and he won't leave his unique mark on the world if it doesn't lead to instant recognition.
He'll spend his life chasing pats on the back, doing things he hates or doesn't believe in, as long as it means someone on the outside validates his behavior.
This means he'll never develop intrinsic motivation; that powerful driving force that comes from within, inspiring him to do what he's called to do, whether or not he gets a ribbon for it.
He lives a life without meaning. He's holding his gifts hostage. He's a walking graveyard of potential.
But before we go on fixing a generation of people, let's start at home.
The real question is, do you live you life in pursuit of validation from others? Do you chase pats on the back and instant recognition?
Or do you follow your North Star? Do you pursue your own, personal greatness, regardless of the accolades that come with it?
Listen, your path may not come with a ton of ribbons and trophies. It may not lead to fame, or non-stop recognition. But it's yours, it serves an important purpose, and you should find joy in pursuing that.
Do it, not because it will lead to praise from others, but because it's what you're called to do.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO OPTIMIZING YOUR LIFE AND SUPERCHARGING YOUR BODY