Winning an award

Have you ever won an award? It could be anything from employee of the month, the biggest pumpkin award, star pupil of the week, or even the much-coveted Nobel prize. It’s not the prestige that matters but how it makes us feel. Awards make us feel good. They are an acknowledgment of a job well done and justification for the agony, the self-doubt, and the hard work that went into winning them. Awards can make us feel proud, happy, overwhelmed, and delighted. They give us validation and boost our confidence.

Acknowledgment and recognition are vital human needs. Winning and losing generate strong emotional responses in us. We have evolved to want to win because historically it may have been the difference between life and death. Winning a battle against the marauding Vikings meant life and land while losing was death or slavery. And so we have evolved to want to win and we get pleasure from winning.

There’s a concept in biology called the winner effect. It has been observed that when an animal wins a battle in the wild, it’s more likely to win subsequent battles, even after accounting for other explanations like physical differences. Winning is self-reinforcing. The same phenomenon is seen in humans. A study of male tennis players found that the winner of a closely fought tie-break had a 60% chance of winning the next set. The effect was not observed in female tennis players, suggesting a possible link with testosterone.

Receiving an award brings more benefits than just winning. Aside from making us feel good, it can also offer a great boost to business. An award brings credibility and opens doors to new opportunities. It can impress potential clients and boost sales, improve employee engagement and loyalty. Awards demonstrate that we take pride in what we do and that we do it well.

Awards are often a focus for communities of interest. Recognising the good and great in a community every year sets a standard for everybody to see and agree on. And perhaps to inspire others to meet or exceed that standard next year! “A rising tide lifts all boats” as the saying goes— looking at it that way, awards are a real contributor to continuous improvement and the advancement of society.

By celebrating excellence and all that is good in humanity we are valuing human achievement and encouraging more of it. Let’s never forget that and always remember to acknowledge effort and excellence.