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\”Recognition\” – Word of the Week

Definition of the word of the week (RECOGNITION): Attention or favorable notice.

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is famous for many things and is recognized as a military genius. In 1815, he observed that, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” Few things motivate soldiers, or anyone else for that matter, than the need to be respected by their peers. Of course, Napoleon’s soldiers were not fighting merely for a piece of cloth but the public recognition represented in a medal for heroism did motivate them to excel.

One of the most dangerous people one will ever meet is someone performing an action for the purpose of gaining recognition. “Trying to be a hero” leads to rash behavior and too often someone dies needlessly. Although those who do act bravely should be recognized, in the final analysis, men do not fight for ideas. Rather, they fight for each other.

Here in Baldwin County, we have many people who are civic minded and are making a difference with their lives. We need all of our citizens to realize our corporate responsibility to our community. The Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Forward Baldwin initiatives offer plenty of examples of people fulfilling their duty to the community as a whole and making Baldwin County a better place to live and work. Of course, if you are not involved, they could use your help.

In any organization, it is fairly easy to see those who are involved for the purpose of recognition. That self-serving motivation cheapens what otherwise would be a valuable contribution to the community. Others benefit, but self-serving actions are less noble. Conversely, many people serve in a variety of civic organizations in a more altruistic vein and realize that, ultimately, service is its own reward.

Recognition is an important motivator but it should be a by-product of life well-lived and not the purpose of our actions. Perhaps, President Abraham Lincoln said it best, “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”

So, let us choose to do the right thing for the right reason and let accolades fall where they may.

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

A name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs. He who can pronounce my name aright, he can call me, and is entitled to my love and service. Henry David Thoreau

Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition. Alexander Smith

It is up to us to give ourselves recognition. If we wait for it to come from others, we feel resentful when it doesn’t, and when it does, we may well reject it. Bernard Berkowitz

Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses…on your powers, instead of your problems. Paul Meyer, Motivational speaker

Equality is the public recognition, effectively expressed in institutions and manners, of the principle that an equal degree of attention is due to the needs of all human beings. Simone Weil

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom. Theodore Rubin

What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise – although the philosophers call it “recognition”! William James

LTC Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone, 478-445-2710 or by email, pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us