Hey Toronto, it's OK to want validation
The Toronto Raptors have made Canadian and NBA history this week by becoming the first non-US-based team in the National Basketball Association to make it to the championship finals. (WOOT!)
And while there is plenty to discuss around the success of the team, I've been thinking a lot about the very Canadian feeling I've been having, watching throngs of US and global media descend on Toronto, marveling at our surprisingly warm weather (good thing they didn't visit last week...), and well-natured fans. I wasn't sure what this feeling was until I realised, I'm proud!
Moments like what we're experiencing in Toronto, and in Canada in general, don't come around very often. Unlike our boisterous American neighbours downstairs, the concept of national pride is very often an internal one that we're only allowed to show off on July 1st every year. Like a sort of Canadian Halloween, Canada Day is when we let our inhibitions flow like maple syrup. So when we have a chance to show off, toot our horns and demonstrate some polite arrogance, we should take it and embrace it. Even flaunt it.
So in celebration of the Raptors' amazing run (which isn't over - the 6ix in 6!) and the fact that the city I love can feel validation for the first time since Joe Carter knocked it out of the park, here are five thoughts on why seeking validation and subsequently feeling validated is a good thing in the professional world.
1. Understanding that you crave validation is a sign that you don't feel valued. Now, maybe you are just really insecure. But even the most confident person enjoys a little validation. And when you don't have it for extended periods of time, you can start to feel lost in your career. If that's the case, the best thing you can do is seek validation directly from your boss. Ask them, 'how am I doing?' and unless they are the worst boss ever, they should give you some honest, positive feedback that you can hold close to your chest as you fall asleep that night.
2. Wanting validation means that there is a communication breakdown in your workplace. Not that praise should be dished out like Drake's taunts at the Golden State Warriors. But if you genuinely aren't feeling validated in your work, it means that you have a toxic work culture where people don't respect each other and aren't talking openly.
3. Getting validation breeds confidence. They say confident people have more success, have more friends, have more opportunity. So go ahead and feel proud! It's good for you. Better yet, go make a colleague feel proud by telling them that they're great.
4. In creative industries, there are countless award shows where agencies and marketers spend a lot of time and money trying to win awards. Many believe this is a way of promoting their creativity in order to drive business. This is sort of true, but the main reason is actually to retain and attract more creative talent. You see, the awards are a way of feeling validation for your work in an industry that is very subjective. But for anyone that's won one of these awards, it feels darn good! It makes you work harder. It makes you proud of your company and your colleagues and your clients. So even if you are not in a creative industry, find an industry award, no matter how obscure, and encourage teams to enter work into it. And if you win, celebrate it with everyone. It will pay emotional dividends.
5. Don't overdo it though. Brad Pitt taught me that pride is a deadly sin and we've all encountered a workplace colleague who maybe has a bit too much of it. The best kind of validation is earned through hard work and celebrated together as a team, not individually. Most importantly, also be proud when you don't achieve success. Be proud of what you learn along the way and how far you've come. But then use that confidence to go back out there and do even better.
There's a fine balance between being humble and being proud but you can do both. Let your hard work do the talking and if you stop actively looking for it, you'll get your validation. Just look at our Toronto Raptors!