The Pitfall Of Excessive Praise | HumorOutcasts

The Pitfall Of Excessive Praise

December 21, 2012

I never want to win an award for anything I write. Never. Granted, at this point it’s a very remote possibility. My chances of winning an award for writing are about as likely as a conservative couple choosing to name their newborn son “Mitt”. But anything can happen in a nation that once elected to the presidency a man whose greatest skill was cutting brush, so I want to protect myself in advance, just in case. This all sounds very counter-intuitive, so I’m going to lay out my reasoning.

  •  We’ve all read about people who were once Teacher Of The Year, but are now garnering widespread attention for inappropriate conduct with a student.
  •  Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Rudolph Giuliani, and Ayatollah Khomeini have all been named Time Magazine’s Person Of The Year.
  •  Take a world-renowned actor and grant him (deservedly) most of the usual film awards. But then bestow on him a few honorary college degrees and make him a French Legion Of Honor Commander. What happens? He ends up on stage at a national convention, bumbling through a garbled speech while talking to an empty chair.
  •  Ken Lay (Enron) once won a Kiwanis Club award for International Executive Of The Year. We all know how that ended.
  •  Too many people who were once an Employee Of The Month get laid off and return to shoot up their workplaces.
  •  A talented actor won an Oscar award in 1997 for his role in Jerry McGuire. Since then he’s appeared in Chill Factor, Rat Race, and Boat Trip (“Two straight men end up on a gays-only cruise.”). I rest my case.

In Middle School I won the Good Citizenship Award. Later that year I got kicked out of the school dance for being drunk. At the time I didn’t see the connection between these events. But I’m now starting to think that excessive praise does something to people, and it’s rarely good. Our fragile egos can’t seem to handle it and we start actually believing all the hype. If you doubt this, just ask General Petraeus (another Time Magazine Person Of The Year, what is up with that publication?)

So please, tell me that I’m average. I’ll be grateful until the end of time, which it so happens is today.

Thomas Sullivan

Thomas Sullivan is the author of So Much Time, So Little Change (a book of essays published by Wayman Publishing). It is available at Amazon in print and Kindle. Thomas lives in Seattle.

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3 Responses to The Pitfall Of Excessive Praise

  1. December 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    You have Giuilani listed in some very impressive company!

  2. December 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    The only thing I’ve ever won is the right to call myself brilliant. I’m not going to lie and say the award was not given to me by myself because that would be a lie. A strange thing begins to happen when you award yourself with brilliance; you start to believe it and delusion is such a cool thing or else I’m not Lieutenant Colonel Bill Y of the Combined Forces Against the so-called music of Bon Jovi!

    • December 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      But you brilliant, finding that scrabble reply was the work of no mere mortal.

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