Another dot in the blogosphere?

No thank you

Posted on: October 16, 2021

I will chalk today’s reflection to something that must have been at the back of my mind right before I went to sleep. I think I read a tweet about recipients of a presidential award over the past week.

Then I remembered how I declined the opportunity to receive one such award for service about ten years ago.

I had gone on a service mission to Paro, Bhutan to conduct a week-long series of workshops for teacher educators. I documented this much of this on the now defunct platform Posterous. Thankfully I had the presence of mind to take some photos and to reflect on the experience.

One reason I rejected the opportunity to shake the then president’s hand was how exhausted I was from work as a professor and head of department.

Another was the fact that I did not think I deserved the award. It was a small sacrifice to make and a foundation paid for travel and accommodation. I also got so much from the experience that I was a better person from it.

Some experiences can be rewards in themselves. I do not need external validation or judgement about worth. For example, I do not need to be told by a poll or an uninformed observer that a course I design and facilitate seems impressive. I need to be paid for my work, but I need not be thanked or given an award for it. I reflect critically and frequently on what I do and make constant adjustments.

I am not saying we should not acknowledge the efforts and sacrifices people make. I understand the need to be thankful and know when to say thank you. But I also know how to fuel intrinsic motivation.

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