Dan Marino and Charles Barkley are considered the best athletes in their respective sports, football and basketball. Both of them are hall-of-famers despite the fact that they didn’t win a NBA title or a Super Bowl.
There are critics who feel that Marino, Barkley, and others should not be in the hall of fame, because they didn’t win the “big one.” According to conventional wisdom, winning a championship validates your legacy and punches your ticket into the hall of fame.
As the case, many great athletes have been inducted into their hall of fames without ever winning a championship.
There is a sense in local young professional circles that if you haven’t receive an award for making a difference in your community, then your accomplishments have no value.
Last October, at a YP event, a facilitator gave a group an assignment to write their dreams and what goals they wanted to achieve individually. On a majority of “dream” lists, YPs listed a plethora of dreams, but the majority theme on their lists is being named to “important lists” such as the Business Record’s Forty Under 40 and Juice’s YP of the Year Award.
After the event, several of us YPs read what was written on each list. A few of us found it troubling to read that the “end all be all” dream of many is “winning an award”. The question we asked was whether an award, being named to a board, or being recognized as an “up and comer” should validate a young professional’s status in the Des Moines business community.
As someone who have won two awards for community service, there is an harsh truth about winning awards: it doesn’t always validate your status and presence in the eyes of the community.
It doesn’t raise your profile as much as you think it should. For some, it does, which is why many YPs feel that Forty Under 40, the Business Record’s yearly honor list of 40 individuals under 40 who are making great strides in Central Iowa, is such a big deal.
None of those distinctions have landed me a permanent (or better) job and a higher profile. I’ve gotten a pat on the head for being a great volunteer, but nothing else. In 2011, there wasn’t much fanfare
The “checkbox “ that YPs are using to measure each other in the area of life and career is disturbing. If we’re not obsessively networking, gathering up as mentors, and taking leadership classes, then we must be failing and not living up to the standards of “being successful”.
It’s the Gen X/Millennial version of the “rat race.”
Last July, Juice’s Josh Hafner asked “do YPs do more than network, find mentors, and learning about leadership?” It was a great question because he was seeing a trend that I didn’t notice. When I look back at my experience as a YP over the past decade, I have struggled more than I have achieved. I didn’t get that big promotion, lofty job title, or the things that everyone I know already has: family, house/condo, significant other, et cetera.
Hafner’s column resonated to me. Being a young professional should be more than networking for your career, being mentored by great leaders, and learning how to succeed as a leader.
Not many YPs are going to have mentors. Either we can’t find the right mentor for the right fit, or a mentor may have no interest in mentoring you.
Many of us may be unable to sign up for leadership classes, if time permits us. There are leadership classes that will not be the best fit. Would it be better for me to take a Leadership Iowa class than GDMLI, because I’m interested in how leadership is done on a statewide basis, plus my interest level goes beyond what goes on here in Des Moines.
Despite those challenges, the list of finalists for the 2014 YP of the Year do not just sit on a bunch of boards, have a Rolodex of networks, have great jobs, and have mentors. Their interests include building houses for low-income families, encouraging women to run for elected office, raising money for children with serious illnesses, among other activities.
YPs understand that we have lives outside of the professional world and cultivating our individual lives is paramount for our sanity.
I have accepted that I will never be named to the Forty Under 40 list. I’ve never had the career or job that I could advance up the ladder in and have it linked to the activities I have done or doing in the community.
There are too many factors going against me for this honor. I’m at peace with never getting it. That’s one less thing I have to worry about.
I never sought out to win the YPC Ashley Okland Community Service award or receive the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer award. It was never a goal. Individuals nominated me because they felt that a person who is dedicated to what they love and believed in should be honored.
I never bring those awards up to brag or remind people about. Nobody cares.
It’s 2015, not 2011.
It’s nice to have them, but how many people remember that I received them?
I volunteer and network because I enjoy staying busy and giving back in a small way. Personally, it takes my mind off of feeling lonely and dealing with my own personal battles (health, lack of work). If volunteering and connecting people make a difference in one person’s life, I consider that a victory.
In her blog “BS in the Midwest”, Brianne Sanchez wrote about being fortunate in living in a city that let’s her do her job, pursue her passions and hobbies, spend time with her family, friends, and colleagues. Also, she never feel stressed out to hit those “self-made benchmarks” that most of us YP’s have unconsciously set for ourselves.
“Whether or not I “win” the YP award in February, the fact the I get to go to work in a job I love and live in a community that lets me pursue and explore so many ideas (and embraces me when all I want is to hang out in my sweatpants), is a huge reward in itself.”
Is an athlete a Hall-of-Famer, if they never won a championship? The answer is yes.
Is someone a “Hall-of-Famer” if they don’t receive an honor or award, based on their accomplishments?
That answer should always be “yes.”