I received a nice surprise yesterday in a beautifully matted and framed copy of a Board resolution; whereas and wherefore it recognizes some of my work of the past several years. My first thought was, How nice to be noticed. My second thought was, While I’m still alive and kickin’! I’ve attended enough Board meetings to know these things most often transpire after death. How much better now!

This set me to thinking about recognition, in general. It’s relatively rare to be externally validated, to know that we’ve made a difference. Most of us plod along, doing the best we can, hoping we’re making a difference. We earnestly believe our efforts matter. But so few of us ever gain tangible evidence that others agree.

So what keeps us going?

If we’re fortunate, we do what we do because we have a passion for the work. It compels us. It challenges us. We don’t need to be externally validated, as nice as we imagine that might feel. Intrinsically, deep inside, we are rewarded by the satisfaction of doing what we do well.

My philosophy has long been, “At the end of the day, it’s all about the work.” It doesn’t matter who has the next best big idea, or who gets the credit. It only matters that the work gets done, and done well. That’s the goal, anyway. Maintaining that high road is just so much more difficult than it sounds!

In this case, the resolution is recognizing two of my colleagues as well. All whereas aside, what we did as a team was the most remarkable accomplishment of all. Just as a three-legged stool is inherently unstable, a three-headed organization is unlikely to succeed. We defied the odds through six tumultuous years that made us and broke us, over and over again. It was sometimes exhilarating, sometimes excruciating, and often exhausting. I’m just glad that little experiment is over!

I’ve so enjoyed the opportunity to explore other professional avenues this year — an entirely different job in another organization. And although I’ve only begun to figure out what I’m doing, I’m facing yet another transition in December. But I’m ready to settle in again and looking forward to a ten (or more) year stretch. I just wish I had a clue what was next!

~René Morley

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