The first time a colleague known for his comedic antics came to my office, he commented on what he called an ‘I love me display’. He was referring to the display of awards I have received over the years. His comment was meant as a joke but I was taken aback. Although I am proud to display my success that way, those awards represent other things to me.
When I look at those awards, I think of a number of different things. They say a lot about me both professionally and personally. They remind me of other professionals and community members I have met along the way. And, those awards remind me of the level of effort it takes to reach award-winning outcomes.
The display of those awards is a visual expression of my competence. It says that I take my work seriously. And, it says that I am creative, I am a problem solver, a risk-taker not afraid to take on tough assignments and a team player. The display is a kind of visual resume.
Over the years, I have been involved in some challenging and professionally rewarding projects that forced me out of my comfort zone. And, I have been on some industrious committees. Those projects and committees have been on both the local and state-wide levels. So, some of the awards displayed reflect the positive outcomes of those efforts.
Some awards were given in thanks for being part of a team of people who didn’t generally work together but who successfully came together for a singular purpose. Working together as a committee to address a community issue or state-wide concern, we were able to produce significant results. Some of the awards are from colleagues in thanks for my professional support of their work.
The display also reminds me of the things that didn’t work well in committee work and did not result in an award. For example, personalities clashed and some committee members did not do their fair share of the work. And, unforeseen challenges arose. So, the committee got through the process but the outcome was not successful. That experience reminds me of the value of perseverance, creative problem solving and true teamwork.
What I Gained
As I think back on all those interactions, I remember what I learned from the experiences. I built knowledge and skills as a result of those team efforts. And, most of all, I remember the people I worked with on those projects and committees. Some became mentors and friends. Some were reluctant professional partners. But, my involvement in those activities expanded my professional network which helped me accomplish more.
So, on days when things don’t go smoothly or there are professional disappointments, I look at that display of awards and remind myself of all the things that did go well. I might be reminded of a successful approach previously applied that could be the answer to a current challenge. Or, maybe I am reminded of a colleague who I have not spoken to in a while who gives good advice. And, maybe there is a colleague who has a contact that can help me. The display reminds me of all that has been accomplished and all that can be accomplished. It’s a reminder that perseverance is key. It gives me the nudge that I need to move ahead.
To Display or Not?
The majority of our work doesn’t rise to the award-winning level. But everything you learn from your experiences prepares you for greater success. Awards are a positive reinforcement of your work. So, when you do receive awards, they are a visual display of your expanded knowledge, skills built and abilities honed. They represent commitments made and kept, trust solidified, networks formed and colleagues gained. And, they represent positive outcomes. So, keep up the great work. And, display your awards with pride. Just don’t let the accolades go to your head.
Mary Roche Cronin is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is the Director of Human Services for the Town of Manchester, Connecticut and has held that position since January 2005. She is responsible for management of four divisions, provides contract oversight for community agencies receiving town funding, and represents the town on community, regional and statewide human services planning and advisory groups. She also provides oversight of the department budget and state and federal grant funding. She has a Master’s degree in Child Welfare from St. Joseph College in West Hartford, Connecticut and a Juris Doctorate from Western New England College School of Law in Springfield, Massachusetts. You can read her posts here.