Appreciation: What your boss gives you instead of a raise

28 Mar

…Or “Why I am not grateful for recognition”

So I’ve been asked lately about my attitude towards recognition and why I don’t have any love for the limelight, and have furthermore been accused of being ungrateful in general. Let me begin by saying that, yes, I do understand that beyond just simple politeness, that true appreciation is given by those who are truly grateful for the things that you do for them, and not conversely to them. There are times where genuine appreciation is recognized by a simple, yet humble, Thank you. To be involved with those people, I am surely blessed.

Then there is all the BS niceties… And that’s a pretty distinguished line with me.

You see, one thing that I have learned about Corporate America is that employers from upon high believe they grace you with a paycheck. Most times, in their eyes, they believe — and some fit their stereotype enough for them to maintain that belief — that you simply didn’t earn it. You’re the little people. A necessary evil. A cost of doing business. Employment, pshaw, is so highly over-rated in the eyes of a board of directors that simply want that ‘just a little bit more.’

Now admittedly, not all Corporations, American or otherwise, are like that. I worked with about a dozen Fortune 500 companies in my lifetime so far, and that is where my opinions lie, upon my personal experiences. I don’t expect everybody to agree, but even if you disagree, there should be an underlying sense of urgency to make things just a little bit better.

You see, I was one of those guys. I was the cubical dweller who wouldn’t stay at their desk. I was the field service agent who went above and beyond for the client. I was the one who helped push my community college into offering advanced mathematics courses. I was the one who worked 60+ hours washing dishes in a tourist trap, so that I could afford to be more available elsewhere in my personal life. I was the one who was taking college courses in high school. I was the one taking advanced courses in junior high. I was the one who was offered — but my parents turned it down — to skip two grade levels in first grade because my academic test scores were completely off the chart. I was the little bastard who wouldn’t sit still in class, yet made my teachers feel like a million bucks!

Yeah. I still am that guy.

When I was thrown to the wolves (or did I throw myself to the wolves, I forget…) after leaving Corporate America, I woke up every day seeking one thing: To impress at least one person. That’s right. One person a day. It isn’t narcissism, but simply using my God-given talents to help at least one person along. Most days I pull it off. The others the lack thereof saddens me. It usually doesn’t take much, given the world we live in now, but with the hardened attitude of others it takes a little more work on other days.

So coming back around to appreciation… I work. That’s the bottom line. A wise man once said that if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. It’s true, so long as you get paid or otherwise have your financial burdens lifted from you. That’s what that Corporate paycheck was once about. I remember the 1990’s and how it was a complete and total financial 180 from my situation now. I’d eat steak when I wanted to eat steak. I’d get a haircut when I felt a little shaggy. I’d buy clothes when I wanted a new look. Being married with two kids is so much different… Every week is a struggle, and you never know if or when you’ll ever catch back up. It’s mentally and emotionally taxing. Now that I own my own small business — mainly due to the fact that my credit is a complete and utter train wreck, to the point I couldn’t get a decent corporate job now, even if I wanted one — the whole perspective on the act of appreciation boils down to a pathetic plea for assistance.

If I were raised a circus performer, I would perform every day, regardless of what I received back from the world, and life, albeit burdensome, would never be boring. I guess that’s how I feel most days. I’m always excited to put my best foot forward and to impress people. When those burdens of life start to equate to financial debt, that’s when the simple act of appreciation takes on the social equivalent of trying to help a wounded animal. It’s not that the poor thing isn’t grateful, it’s just that in the short run, it does little to ease the pain.

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