natural, it seems, to want to take credit for
something--even things that we didn't do. It must be
natural, for so many of us spend so much time and effort
making sure that we get credit for all that we do.
It is a nice feeling, after all, to be able to say,
"I did that" when someone sees something
positive, something of high quality, that we've
done. But I guess the question that we should ask
ourselves is this: If I were to spend the energy
that I spent on making sure people know what I've done on
doing something new, what more could I get done?
I notice that my students in middle and high school have
learned well the need to take credit, and they've learned
it to a new extreme: they expect to get A's just for
finishing an assignment, no matter how mediocre or even
average their work is. I've had many students tell
me that they deserve an "A" in a class because
they've "done all the assignments."
Unfortunately, I have to explain to them that the
"A" is reserved for outstanding work, but the
work that they've done shows no sign of being outstanding.
Part of the problem, of course, lies in cultures and
structures that offer little to no positive feedback to
people. In companies that do show their appreciation
to the people who work for them, people don't feel
nearly as strong a need to make sure that they get credit
for individual jobs, for they know that they're
appreciated. And while that can be a good thing,
it's still depending on an outside source for a sense of
well-being or a sense of accomplishment.
The trick is to give ourselves credit, to know without
doubt that we've done something special, and to be
satisfied with that. Then we can turn right to our next
task, and do that even better than we did this one.
We'll be putting our energy into something constructive
rather than into trying to convince people that we're
deserving of the credit that we think they should be