One More M&M

One of the first posts written on this site discussed the constant need for validation many of us have in our lives, to the point of constantly seeking and extracting compliments from those around us.

The point being that those accomplishments worthwhile of validation, recognition, and perhaps even reward, are lost in the frenzy of attention seeking nonsense. Part of that post questioned our incessant need for recognition on matters mostly of trivial consumerism, and our perception this acknowledgement in some way increased our value in society:

Do we really need some external validation for every single (mostly consumer driven) decision we make? The answer to that question increasingly seems to be yes. If not for some kind of validation, then it becomes somehow linked to inching up our social standing – I am better or cool because I have this, am doing or reading this, or “like” this.

The sentiment contained in that earlier post is well summarised in the above excerpt.

Upon re-reading the post I should emphasise, I certainly believe there is a very important need for all forms of acknowledgement, recognition and feedback (both positive and negative), none more evident in my day-time role as a manager of people. This is also something all too easy to overlook, particularly (and somewhat ironically) in a talented, hard working team.

However the irony was not lost on the writer as I found my inner voice saying “see I was right”’ and feeling dare I say, ‘validated’ when reading Welcome to Validation Nation by Daniel P. Forrester, a recent Editors Pick on Medium. Though infinitely more elegant in word than myself, Daniel expresses a similar sentiment:

Without a common definition of validation, the concept has been decentralized in a frenzied, subjective set of silos. We have flown past the basics of “see me, hear me, thank me,” to “you must see me, celebrate me, and everything that is great about me.” In getting to this shallow state, we have lost: inhibition, pause, humility, empathy and the critical skill of self-editing.

In my thinking on this subject, the most telling point made above is how we have lost the critical skill of self editing. Time and again it appears we are no longer able to filter our need for recognition from “everything”, or indeed “every little thing”, to areas that do indeed really matter. Furthermore, simple recognition or acknowledgement is no longer enough, we continue on, seeking a king tide of support and full blown celebration. If this is your desire, fine, however please remember the more you ask, the less real value you receive in return.

The article does suggest there is still hope:

There’s also some hope in all of this as the human need for recognition gets redefined. My belief is that the generation after the Millennials, will recoil from all this hyped nonsense. Let us hope for a flight to quality where recognition of real human achievement will be amplified by a few trusted, authoritative and transparent sources; a time when validation for accomplishments becomes tightly re-coupled with excellence.

Perhaps this will be true, however I do not believe this is simply a Millennial generation issue. It is far more widespread and no doubt further fuelled by, but certainly not limited to, today’s social media and the methods we use to seek out this recognition.

There are many more compelling points contained therein, and I would recommend reading Daniel’s insightful article in full.

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