This piece is inspired by a fellow entrepreneur that I consider to be one of the best networkers I have ever met. She also embodies the notion of continuous learning in a big way.
Recently, she shared with me her experience on being selected to be one of only 45 women entrepreneurs from all over the world that will be going for a study visit to Washington, USA. The program that she was selected to go is not the 1st program of similar nature she has gone to, yet her satisfaction being selected this time around is extra; more profound, more heightened.
The difference this time around is that she needed to compete with 20K other applicants. The fact that she is going based on merit, is what makes all the difference.
This conversation led us to explore this subject of validation and recognition (V&R). Why is it important and how so important are they. In this conversation we shared experiences that we had around the context of V&R and made some conclusions.
In essence, V&R is actually a feedback of your effort and competency by a group of people that holds the same context as you do. It is perceived to be the method that proofs whether you are good or bad. The natural progression of this perception is that V&R is used to benchmark you against others (a status determinant). Due to this, V&R has economical and ego-centric benefits. That is why a lot of people are truly hot and bothered by it.
However important V&R is, the value of the V&R actually depends on how it is achieved, not so much as getting it. For example, the least valuable one (in fact, for some out there, it is of no value at all) is one that is achieved by buying or paying for it. There is even an industry around this. In L&D this is prevalent. There are local organisations that will contact you under the pretext of awarding you an industry award and all you need to do is send them a one pager introduction and ‘sponsor’ (read: buy) a table or two during the award night for you to invite you staff, family and friends . For those that want this but are also conscious of the stigma it carries, they legitimises it by paying for an international award (Yes! There are organisations worldwide doing this too. It is a global trend) as if it is more prestigious and ‘kosher’ compared to local ones. What is even sadder, these trainers, facilitators and coaches (my industry that stands on integrity) advertise and promote their bought V&R.
Next, there are V&R that is the product of recommendations. This is one notch higher because there is somewhat a filtering process. The one recommending will be more discerning who to recommend. However, there is still room for favouritism and bias. Case in point is when people use their invitation to a certain program via recommendation as an authentic foolproof V&R which isn’t so.
Next there is V&R that comes from competitions where aspiring recipients apply and provide proof which will then go through a stringent process of selection, verification, qualification and investigation. This category of V&R is credible and should be a badge of honour for those that receive it.
The last category is when the V&R is given without any fear or favour. It is awarded by nomination of the public or the industry players or peers. This kind of V&R is presented when the recipient is not even expecting or coveting it. To both of us, this kind of V&R is the most desirable.
So, to my fellow tradesmen, the industry knows what kind of V&R are there. Paying for one in an effort to hoodwink clients and peers might work but rarely so especially in the long run. The short sightedness of people that buy such V&R is that it will reduce the credibility of the very industry you are in. It will also hurt your credibility.
For my friend, AJ that was selected among the top 45 from 20K applicants, I salute you for willing to stand scrutiny and being in integrity when it comes to your V&R. Congratulation on your trip to Washington. You deserve every V&R you have gotten so far because you do not take the short-cut.