Written by Liz Swanson, Professional Education Services Assistant Director

A couple of times today Kathy and I had conversations about the effort you put in on a project being equal to the reward. We both had a busy April, personally and professionally. As I look back over the past month, I am somewhat amazed we got it all accomplished. That got me thinking about effort and reward and how they are all tied together. I found several great quotes around this topic, but I really this one by John Ruskin... “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”

Think about this in your own work. Do you feel unsure and nervous about a project you worked on intently, practiced, and planned for repeatedly? Probably not, because you were prepared. You invested time and you have a certain amount of confidence from your preparation that it will work out.  Do you mess up on items that you have ingrained into your work protocols and routines?  You might occasionally, but chances are they are part of your routine or are habit and part of your deliberate practice, so you don’t mess up.  I have personally found the projects in life that I have bombed on or have caused the most anxiety are the ones where I didn’t fully prepare or plan. I was trying to fly by the seat of my pants.

Preparing, Planning, and Achievement

I think this quote by Vince Lombardi is so true. “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual. People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses or the problems of modern society. Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

As a parent, I constantly pushed my daughter to be involved in a team whether it was soccer, cheerleading, show choir, or the cast of a school play. Teamwork, having others that depend on you, responsibility for your part in the team, overcoming the odds, and the feeling when succeeding are all things that can’t be taught in a classroom. They can only be taught by sweat equity and putting the work in on a project.

Recognition and Effort

The greatest joy in life is the climbing up and seeing the view looking back. That is when you have those “how did we ever do that” moments. The level path is easy, but it will not bring you to the mountaintop view. Mahatma Gandhi said one of the seven deadly sins is wealth without work. Wealth doesn’t have to be money... it can be recognition, acclaim, or access to power without putting in the effort. Nothing feels more hollow than praise for a project where you knew you flew by the seat of your pants. Nothing speaks louder than not being recognized by a supervisor on a project where you gave your all.

As a leader, you have a tough job. You lead the team, direct the team, motivate the team, evaluate the team, and recognize them for their effort. No wonder you are tired!