This is a picture of my Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame Trophy. I love it. It makes me smile when I glance over at it while removing my gaze from the computer screen to grab another sip of coffee. Those of us of certain generations scoff at the participation trophy that all children get for being a member of the team these days. We feel that it gives the children a false sense of what success is all about. After all, only one competitor can be the champion.
And, in adult life, only one company can lead the market; only one supplier can win the bid; only one person in a 60,000-person company can be the CEO. So, what about the other 59,999 people? Are they all losers? Should they not feel good about showing up every day and giving it their all?
This trophy is my participation trophy; because it represents the fact that I showed up every day. I was there to be a coach, a mentor, a leader, a teammate every single day. I gave it my all. I did not always win. I lost many a battle with a narcissistic executive (the equivalent of a playground bully dressed in a crisply ironed suit). I did, however, show up for my team. I did give opportunities to other women, if they were indeed the right person for the job. I did encourage and uphold each of my team members – to identify in them strengths they may not have seen in themselves, to value each of their unique contributions to the team and the business.
I was not a CEO. My teams did not win every bid we submitted. We did not make our production goals every single day in the three decades of pursuing them. But, I was a part of and led several winning teams, and that was because I whole-heartedly showed up, never gave up, and stayed engaged for every single inning/quarter/period. I am proud of and grateful for my participation trophy.