unCUlturers: musings on organizational culture & development (and stuff about credit unions too)
Seth Godin does a masterful job developing this idea in his fantastic book Linchpin. The sooner you read that book and understand this idea, the better.

In fact, I'm going to stop writing this post so you can get off your computer, go read it, and adjust your mindset accordingly.
If you’ve been around peewee league soccer, there are a few things you know. You know that there is absolutely no strategy involved whatsoever. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.

You also know that it’s “just for fun,” or something. And really, it is. As parents, we show up, put out some lawn chairs, and watch a clump of children swarm the ball wherever it goes on the field (and sometimes off). 

These days, a lot of leagues have even stopped keeping track of score altogether, choosing instead to acknowledge everyone for participating. At the end of the year, children nationwide are given certificates of “participation.” 

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have a huge problem with that. But if I’m honest (and if you are too), you often find yourself cringing a little bit. You think things like: If we don’t keep score, what’s the point of playing? Doesn’t my kid need to know how to both win and lose the right way? I want my kid to excel, not just be content to participate! And so it goes…

Well here’s the thing. The same thing applies to your professional (and personal) life. As you progress through life’s various stages, are you really interested in merely “participating”? It’s like someone saying, “Hey, great job. You lived and breathed.” The sad reality is the corporate world, society, churches, etc, are filled with these type folks. Is that really what you want?

No, I want something more than that, and I hope you do too. I hope you’re interested in far more than a certificate of participation. I hope you’re interested in far more than watching others excel. I hope you take what you do really personally, and determine to do what it takes to be among the best in your field. Take risks, be creative, work hard, learn well, and for Pete’s sake, don’t just participate.