Let’s move on to the respect issue. The BMW was all about getting respect or envy from the people this person associates with– recognition for a life well lived. “Wow! That guy has a BMW! He must be rich and important!”
Watch Mr. Holland’s Opus. He was a simple music teacher with conviction that music was important to people’s lives. He didn’t drive a BMW. He had a legacy of many many students that loved and revered him. Watch Gandhi. Read Churchill. Read Lincoln. They lived significant lives. What was it that made their lives significant? It was service to others, innovation in industry, mentoring and teaching people to achieve excellence, bravery and courage in facing down an enemy despite the odds, pursuing justice, doing ordinary things in an extraordinary manner. You go to a graduation ceremony and they introduce the main speaker, and they go on and on about the degrees and the accomplishments of this person. Imagine you are asked to address a graduation ceremony. What would the master of ceremonies say about you? What are you passionate about? What would you do for free that would benefit the people around you? Would you lead a bunch of boy scouts? Would you start an after school reading program? Would you entertain elderly people at the nursing home? Would you mentor a high school student? The point is, you do not live a significant life by trying to live a significant life. That sounds counter intuitive. However, you shouldn’t do these things because you hope someone is watching. You do these things because they need to get done, and it is on your heart to do them.
When it comes to recognition, it seems that most recognition comes when you do something wrong. “You’re LATE again!” “You messed up the report!” “You lost the account!” “That guy you hired just embezzled $10,000.” I used to work in fast food. The language there might be considered colorful, if there was only some variety in the color. They cursed every other word. Not many of the people that worked there liked working there. There were two basic conflicts: Front line vs. Back line and Day crew vs. Night crew. The day crew was made up mostly of older ladies that needed the money to make ends meet. They were mothers and grandmothers who had real problems at home and had become accustomed to the night crew leaving them all the work. There would be daily notes on the bulletin board about things left dirty and shelves not stocked. The night crew was made up mostly of high school and college students that needed the money to pay for car insurance and pizza. They were single and night owls that stayed up until 3 or 4 AM playing video games. They HATED those notes. They didn’t like having to stock their own supplies and then stock the day crew’s as well. They didn’t like cleaning in the corners; they wanted to get out and home because it was late. They referred to the day crew as battle axes. The day crew referred to the night crew as lazy jerks. I worked both shifts. One afternoon, I showed one of the kids how to clean the grill. I did one part and covered it up, Then he did one part and we compared. His was clean, mine gleamed. He was astounded. I showed him how to do it. The day after he closed, I put a note on the board for him. “John. I could tell you cleaned the grill last night! My eggs this morning just slid all over! It was wonderful! Keep up the good work. PS, I stocked you for tonight.” The night crew was used to getting notes, so he groaned when he saw the note. When he finished it, he checked the back to see what was wrong and why he was an idiot. He was confused, there was no criticism. Two nights later, I put up another note. “Bill, I love it when you do the salads! You really take your time and they look great! PS, I sliced your tomatoes for you.” It wasn’t long until the night crew was stocking the day crew, and the day crew was reciprocating. The point was, each crew wanted to be valued and respected by the other. Nobody wanted to make the 1st move. By doing the respectful note, the recognition note, they took pride in their work. They understood what was needed by the day crew and helped out, and some of them even did notes for the day crew. The day crew became much less stressed, and even greeted the night crew without snarling!
When we don’t get good recognition at work, we tend to think that by accumulating things will get us the recognition outside of work. What needs to happen is that you must recognize all the people that are doing their best at your work. Find a way to fill a need in the community, and then recognize the people you work with there. Most importantly, do YOUR best. The recognition and respect you get from doing that will exceed what ever you expect to get by driving a BMW. You notice that you are to do the recognizing, not be recognized. With that attitude, recognition and respect will naturally flow to you. The more you give, the more you get.
Read biographies of significant people, Pushing up People, Becoming a person of Influence.