Of re(a)wards and recognition….

As a HR professional, I dabble with R&R all the time….since R&R is one of the buzzwords and a concept which “supposedly” HR drives, modifies, implements, institutes….We (in HR)have all usually completed several years of analysing the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and the ideas of “hygiene” and “motivation” factors . This applies at work , at home, almost everywhere where humans exist-that we begin to subconsciously  apply it wherever we can apply….atleast I do!

So, when one of my favorite artists got a coveted title or award recently, my knee jerk reaction was to yell in joy. I yelled in joy, and we all celebrated unanimously, for here, we felt that somewhere in a world of unfairness , sometimes true merit is also recognized.

But I got different kinds of reactions from different people, people who weren’t particularly his fans, people who genuinely felt ┬áthere were others who were more senior and more accomplished. Disappointed for their own “idols”, sometimes disappointed for “themselves”. I did have to apply “reverse psychology” here to understand how they felt. Imagine ,the person awarded was not my favorite artist? How would I have felt? Honestly nothing because, it is not for these awards that we are his fans. I don’t think Al Pacino would have any less followers if he missed the Academy nominations or awards. Its quite the same thing….A legend is a legend irrespective of whether the world acknowledges him/her or not.

But this situation helped me look at the concept of awards from various perspectives. HR/Theoretical/Psychological/Spiritual….And here is a summary of what I’ve been thinking.

At any point time, only one person can be awarded. In our country and society the number of awards will always be disproportionate to the population (Duh!). So there is going to be a lot of factors which influence this one award (Take any award for that matter)-Sometimes it will be deserved, sometimes richly deserved, sometimes purely influenced (by various factors-Political is just one factor in our country), sometimes for financial interests, sometimes for personal interests and at other times, the award will probably go to the oldest or youngest…and one has no control over their year of birth!!

Therefore at any point in time there will also be a huge number of people who have NEVER received awards-be it in the arts, in sciences , in films, in a corporate environment or maybe while in school.

So many factors influence this- A child with a broken home/family or a financially poor background will usually be shy or under-perform at school and will never be chosen to be the school pupil leader, despite being a “responsible child” in the family.  Like the heroine of 36 Vayadhiniley, a woman who works way too hard to support her husband’s career and children’s education will never be given a “trophy” because she has no “career” of her own. So many children of this country will never be able to play Cricket for India because despite being cricket crazy and spending 24 hours with gulley cricket, and being the best at it, they just cannot afford the training. (Remember the film 1983?)

So many children who were sports/ music stars until their class ten would have dropped out to “study” so, they will never go on to become performers. So many will be bullied/threatened/ psychologically bulldozed by other “gifted” or “wealthy” children or children with “lineage” or “background”. So many, with proficiency in art or workmanship will settle with working in a call center-to support the family.  So many would have never tried because they were “shy”. So many wouldn’t attempt to explore uncharted territories because they had a father who “caned” them every time they did. The list can go on…..

We are a nation where each of us is a hero. Because as middle class people or upwardly mobile people, we struggle to make ends meet. Most of us settle for careers with “others” in mind even if it makes us unhappy. We take subjects our parents ask us to, and we live through hell for the rest of our lives with no complaints (Research and studies suggest that we ought not to, but who will pay the bills?) Most often we make the wrong choices, either by force or by chance or due to circumstances. But we brave it all ,with smiles and we live a life to the best of our abilities. There is no social security in this country and the population is only bursting. Number of mouths to feed is higher and the responsibilities imposed by society is endless. Nobody can therefore dictate what is right or what is wrong for each of us…

So the end point I am trying to make is, while on the one hand, we celebrate an award or an awardee, let us not forget that there are many whom we have not even heard of, who are richly deserving of many awards. The connoisseurs of art/music/filmography or science who never came known to the world simply because of circumstances. Those who couldn’t make it to the mainstream or those who made it but had to drop out, or those who died, or those who were too disappointed to continue…..We must take a moment and celebrate these unknown achievers-for they exist in various corners of this world….continuing to do their own thing whether the world takes notice or not. 

The teacher who teaches carnatic music in your colony, that professor who teaches students for free, that uncle who works at the post office who can fix your mobile in a few seconds, that mama who creates toys with “left- over” wood, that mami who cooks such delicious meals only for her husband to say “Uppu kammiya irukey!”….That librarian who takes care of your entire school library but is never lauded like your “teacher”…that singer/dancer/ painter/photographer/biker/automobile enthusiast/writer/ in EACH OF YOU, who lies dormant because you are “too old”, “too shy”, “have too many responsibilties and kids are grown up”, “you cant afford it”……or whatever is your reason, YOU deserve an award……..because you could have made it too……IF ONLY circumstances were favourable…

So while R&R is a concept I would still drive to bring the best of performance out, spiritually and as a person who has walked on this earth for donkey’s years, I know that a person’s circumstance decides MOST things including awards, recognition, brilliance and performance….I will therefore laud my favorite hero but i will not think low of someone who did not get there (which includes myself). I will therefore wish my colleague who got a coveted prize-good luck , maybe get  jealous too (since I’m human), but will never let it hit my morale because I am deserving too….. Each of us is deserving enough-so- as those popular sayings go, whether we have an audience or not, if we want to sing, we should sing…..want to dance, we should dance…..even if our painting looks like tomatoes thrown on paper we should paint (because we love it), and always fuel our passion…….whatever it is…..whether we get awards or not…..

When we fuel our individual passions, and keep working at it with no expectation of reward (Karma Yoga anyone??), we will be happier individuals-and we will have made one person smile with our efforts. That one person could be just our own selves….

And making your spirit smile and not let it die, is greater than any EXTERNAL award you will / can ever receive……

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