Monetary recognition is an important motivation however, ask yourself, are you measured by money or are you motivated by money? Barry Shwartz, a TED presenter gave an example of Motivational Competition. In Switzerland, when they were deciding where to locate nuclear waste dumps, psychologists surveyed two groups. The first group was asked “would you be open to having a nuclear dump in your community?” Because it was needed to be put somewhere, even though they knew it would be dangerous but, they felt they had a responsibility as citizens, 56% said yes. The second group when asked the same question and given a monetary incentive, 6 weeks’ salary every year, only 35% said yes.
“We need incentives to survive but, excessive incentives demoralize professional activities. It causes people in the activity to lose morale and it causes the activity itself to lose morality” Barry Shwartz.
During my 2nd year at business school, where they teach you competitive advantage, and market shares, I decided to volunteer for a Not-For-Profit Aids foundation for a month to fluff up my resume. This foundation supports people who were tight-lining the poverty line and are affected by aids. I was given a task to write a feature piece about a single mother the foundation had been supporting for years. WhatI got from that one conversation with her gave me more value than my initial objective. I could see the impact this foundation work had on her family, relaying stories of her kid’s reaction when a volunteer showed up a few days before Thanksgiving with a hamper of food. She brought value to the work I was doing. What was supposed to be a one month internship turned into a 3 year relationship.
Sometimes others see value in what you do even if you don’t. For example the garbage man, who carelessly throws the bins after it has been emptied. I see value in what he does. Imagine what would happen if one day someone thanks him for the work he is doing, how would that impact his output?
One interview question that gets asked at almost every interview is, what was your biggest achievement and why? Most often than not, the reason why it is your biggest achievement will be related to helping others.