Monday, October 11, 2010

Contests


I add this photo because sometimes the rainbow gives unexpected rewards. While I don't remember what the weather was like when I got the news, I received an unexpected reward this autumn.
I generally don't get my hopes up when I enter contests, because I'm seldom the winner, but that changed when I started writing. Since my books have been released, I've entered them in various writing contests. Until this September, the best I had gotten was a certificate of participation. Believe me, opening that envelope in the mail to find that certificate was annoying. Other friends and colleagues who are writers were entering contests and getting some acknowledgement of their work. The idea of submitting my books to more contests discouraged me, but I persisted. A seminar leader attributed his writing success to having won a contest so I heeded his advice with dwindling enthusiasm.
This autumn, things changed. My most recent book is a finalist in two categories for the 2010 New Mexico Book Awards. While I won't know the results until mid-November, I already feel as if I've won. Just being named as a finalist has brought me deep satisfaction and encouragment to keep on writing.
Now I begin to understand some of the fist-pumping, hugging, slapping-on-the- back, whistling and all other behaviors that go with winning. Seeing grown men jumping up and down and generally acting like children after winning a bowl game, the Stanley Cup or World Series amused me. Now, I have to take back my condescending attitude regarding their reactions because I could have pumped my fist, danced or cheered when I received the email about my entry. (I think I might has done some fist-pumping as I read the message.)
Affirmation is a very rare thing these days. I wonder about all of people who provide services whose actions we take for granted. Think of the server in a restaurant, we expect prompt service, quality food---all with a good attitude. While we leave a tips, do we really tell him or her that we genuinely appreciated their efforts on our behalf? We're in contact with people who render us needed services on a daily basis, but do we recognize them and affirm their work?
I met an acquaintance for dinner at a restaurant several days ago. She was very dismissive of the serving staff. Her condescending comportment was more like that of a person of royal lineage. The more rude she was to the server, the more I tried to recognize him and express appreciation for his help. By th end of the meal, she had softened a bit.
If receiving a trophy can bring such boisterous delight to the winners, imagine what simple recognition and appreciation for service can offer that might help people get through the day.
A new goal for myself is to affirm others who help me in some way, whether they are servers in restaurants, trash collectors, or---anyone. This won't stop global warming or win the war in Afghanistan, but maybe it can make our world a better place.

1 comment:

Barbara.Deller said...

I surely agree that appreciation and recognition are powerful forces. Even in the arena of human workforce development, recognition is often a more powerful motivator than financial incentives. And as you mention, even in day to day life, we may never know the power that appreciation expressed may have in the life of a person.

By the way, be sure to let us knowo the results of the New Mexico Book Awards. Good luck!