A recognition, sometimes even a reward, for a job well done. Is this not something for which we human strive? Sure. Dwayne Harris It makes sense, too. As individuals and as a species, it’s imperative that we constantly seek to grow and improve, and rewards and recognitions can advance us toward our goals. So what is the point here? The point is this: I just began a Toastmasters course, and I’m disturbed by one particular element. At the end of every class, after each person has already been scrutinized and evaluated and given constructive feedback, the class members vote to determine which speaker was the best that day, which evaluator was the best that day, and which extemporaneous speaker was the best that day. The point is also this: what is always, always, always and constantly with trophies and extrinsic rewards in classes such as these? Are these necessary and even healthy? Do they elevate us in a positive way? Sometimes, yes, honors, recognitions, trophies, and the like can help make us better at being who we are. They encourage us. They help us strive for something great, improving our skills, our very selves in the process. A glance at the sidebar on the right will reveal that my writing has received honors and recognitions, and for that I am proud and grateful. Such awards evaluate specific elements of writing, and receiving them (or not) is a form of constructive criticism that helps me grow as a writer: do more of this, less of this, etc. Sometimes, though, rewarding every little thing with a trophy or trinket can be harmful. The trophies given at the end of each Toastmasters class are a type of motivation known as extrinsic motivation. It means that desire for success comes from an obscure place outside of the individual. Take away the trinket, the carrot on a stick, and motivation to succeed and improve wanes. Desire for success can become less about being a better speaker and more about competing with the other class members. The daily in-course evaluations and feedback are most definitely about helping people be better speakers; why destroy that opportunity for growth with a competitive trophy? Intrinsic motivation, extrinsic’s opposite, means that motivation to grow and succeed comes from within. I have a very strong suspicion that every person in that Toastmaster’s class is intrinsically motivated to be there. Each of us wants to become a better speaker, whether it’s in front of large audiences or small groups. At the very first meeting, many people, myself included, expressed high anxiety around not only speaking but simply being in the class. parajumpers masterpiece OWNER Each of these nervous people, who want to grow, must speak on a weekly (or bi-weekly) basis and be evaluated and rated by all of the other class members. Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber How intimidating! But we want to grow, so we stand up at the front of the room, and we speak. Aloud. To an audience. That itself is deserving of a reward. And guess what? There is a reward. It’s called an intrinsic sense of accomplishment, a feeling of “Oh my god I thought I was going to die but I lived and not only that I gave my speech and people had positive feedback!” This is empowering, and it goes a long way toward reducing anxiety. But then comes the end-of-class trophy. Okay, people. Never mind that you all did it. You all got up and faced your fears. That’s not as important as who-was-the-best. Air Jordan 6 Retro Let’s compete! Let’s compare! Let’s give the trophy to the one person who was better than the others. And excuse me, better by what standards? When we judged at the end of the class, it was completely subjective. Purdue Boilermakers The ballot told us only to write the name of the best speaker, not the qualities which made them “best.” Why? Why put anxious people who are doing their best through an artificial system of who-was-the-best? There doesn’t need to be a “best” in a Toastmasters class! Assessing the best in a situation that already fills people with anxiety can absolutely skyrocket anxiety, and the person with it, into orbit. Have you ever had to speak or even interact with people while in orbit around the planet? I’ve tried, and it’s not very easy. Trust me. I am not anti-reward. canada goose trillium parka I think that honors and recognitions and, yes, trophies have an important place in life. When used properly, they can help motivate and grow. I believe this to such a degree that I have striven for them my entire life (yes, my entire life. Nike Air Odyssey I remember coveting a gluey-Popsicle-stick trophy in preschool, and I’ve been going after such things ever since.) Admittedly, that is part of my problem with the Toastmasters trophies. Air Jordan 1 For Kids I have recently been working hard to overcome my competitive streak (okay, it’s far more than a streak on my body; it’s more like a morph suit that won’t come off). So wiggling such a Toastmasters trophy in front of me is truly like offering a drink to a recovering alcoholic. Seriously. There’s this buzzy, electrified feeling inside me that wants the trophy to prove that I’m good-better-best. But I don’t want to be judged as good-better-best. Canada Goose Homme Pas Cher I want all of us in the class to be able to concentrate on what we’re there for: personal growth. Man vs. man (person vs. person) competition has a legitimate place in our society; however, so does person vs. self competition. This latter is intrinsic. It involves true inner growth. Trophies are useful in a person vs. person type of competition. They do not, however, belong in a self-improvement, person vs. Adidas Harden Crazylight self, type of environment. Sometimes, we just need to forget the judgment and the comparisons and let people be. In all likelihood, anxiety will diminish, and people will grow. The reward for that is a sense of self-efficacy. No engraved trophy for that, please.