Stop Chasing Gold Stars

The Desert of Arizona
Clear 68 Degrees 5:32 a.m.

“We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards, gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys, in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else.” -John Holt

Yours truly knows about gold stars. They powered his life from age 6 to age 22. 4.0 GPA, perfect little teacher’s pet. Did everything “right.”

Unfortunately, that means I got almost everything that truly mattered WRONG.

The worst part is, the chase for gold stars doesn’t magically stop when you get out of “school.” It continues on into our adult life. Why do you think you were trained to do it?

It’s EVERYWHERE in the world of working with clients.

Chasing gold stars in the client world takes on many forms. But it happens whenever you chase acceptance, validation and recognition over doing what matters. That is not the mark of a servant, it is the mark of a slave. I know. I’ve been one.

You can stop it. But it takes work.

Some people don’t know to do this work. Many people aren’t willing to do this work.

Do you need to do this work? Well, just ask yourself if what your clients think of you is far more important to you than what YOU think of you. (If your mind doesn’t know, ask which scenario creates a bigger emotional hit: your clients being mad at you or YOU being mad at you?)

The first piece of the solution is to step back and realize how dysfunctional this behavior is.

Understand this isn’t about high achievement. Fulfilling your potential is why we’re here.

The issue is WHO is telling you what to achieve? Who is telling you how to achieve it? When? For what reasons? And most importantly, to whom have you given the power to identify whether or not you’ve “made it?”

Those answers are your domain, beyond reproach.

It’s hard to become an authority when you’ve never given yourself the ability to have authority.

You can start today. Just stand up and be unwilling to chase the gold star.

They aren’t rewards, they are proof you aren’t yet free.