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Are Awards Really That Important?

Sam Mishra (The Medical Massage Lady), is a multi-award winning massage therapist, aromatherapist, accredited course tutor, oncology practitioner, trauma practitioner and breathwork facilitator. Her medical background as a nurse and a midwife, combined with her own experiences of childhood disability and abuse, have resulted in a diverse and specialized service.

 
Executive Contributor Sam Mishra

At the time of writing this, I have been fortunate to receive sixteen awards in the last three years and am up for another three in the next few months. People have asked me why I'm accepting more nominations when I already have so many, but receiving an award is about more than just collecting numbers. 


A woman speaking at the stage.

In 2023, I was up for a Women’s Champion award, and I do so much to support women, whether it’s through the treatments that I offer, the self-help guides that I’ve written, the time I give to my clients outside of the treatment room, or the support I give to various charities, many of which are supporting vulnerable women. Despite the unpredictability of life and the tendency to focus solely on our accomplishments, I truly believed that there was nothing more I could have done. 


The significance of this award, surpassing all others I have received, stems from the numerous challenges I have faced, including years of domestic abuse, sexual assault, depression, feelings of worthlessness, chronic pain from endometriosis, pregnancy loss, and grief over the loss of my children. I know that clients have looked to me as an example of overcoming trauma and making something of my life despite adversity.


That is a role that I take very seriously. So when I woke up the following morning after not having heard my name called, there was a huge range of emotions that presented themselves as my PTSD kicked in. All I could hear was that voice in the back of my head saying, “You’re not good enough." I felt like I had let myself down, but more importantly, I felt like I had let my clients down. For me, receiving that specific award would have enabled me to publicly declare that I was no longer a victim under the control of my trauma, but a survivor who had triumphed over all the challenges I believed had weakened me. Of course, no one needs an award to affirm this belief, as it originates from within. The messages of support I received from clients after sharing a deeply personal message on social media provided me with the necessary validation. 


I pondered for a while whether I would accept a future nomination for that award, uncertain about my ability to withstand the disappointment and a few days of PTSD triggers. However, I came to the realization that this nomination would serve as a catalyst, inspiring me to achieve more. Rather than accepting the loss as a confirmation from those who had previously doubted my potential, I channelled it into discovering new avenues to assist women. This year, when I received another nomination, I took the stage and delivered my winning speech on International Women's Day. After so many years of persevering through life, I finally felt like some of my perseverance had paid off. 


Why are awards nomination important?

Let’s face it, most of my awards have been based on things that I just do because it’s my job, but I’ve always said that I would rather be recognized for who I am as a person and what I contribute to my community rather than being labelled the best at a particular skill or for being a great businesswoman, although that is still a great acknowledgement. 


The first award I received was solely based on client reviews, eliminating the need for me to fill out any paperwork for nomination acceptance. This sense of achievement ignited a competitive streak within me that I was previously unaware of. I don't necessarily compete with others, but rather with myself. Gaining recognition for my work through awards has been like having my very own external critic, guiding me in new directions. I want to share my pride in my work, in helping others, and in myself for proving that my abusers were wrong. Simply securing a spot on the shortlist can open up new opportunities and serve as a reminder that earning the respect of your peers is a significant achievement. Attending awards ceremonies provides an opportunity to network with other professionals, observe innovative approaches in other fields, and uncover potential collaboration opportunities with complementary services. Receiving such recognition and boosting your reputation can also really help to improve morale in a team. 


As much as receiving awards has triggered the competitiveness within me, winning isn’t everything; you can achieve success and define yourself as excellent within your field without gaining an award, but they can certainly help to generate some publicity and increase your credibility in the industry. 


There is, however, an emotional factor in addition to the recognition of service excellence, and this is what propels me forward. My awards are a testament to my time and commitment to helping charities and others in my community, both locally and nationally. Therefore, the hours spent filling out forms and gathering evidence for my nominations are valuable as they not only raise awareness about these organizations but also provide a platform for introspection. 


The benefits for your business of receiving awards


Exposure 

Awards can bring with them exposure to more people, whether it’s publicity online, in the news, or through word of mouth. It’s an opportunity to bring in new clients and new contacts. This exposure may come via press releases and interviews by the award hosts and sponsors, or marketing tools that they will send you, such as logos and graphics. It will all help to raise awareness of what you do, build your brand, and open up more opportunities. 


Networking 

Simply attending ceremonies offers the chance to meet new people who share your goals and passions, which can be useful in developing your business, whether it’s new clients, suppliers, or collaborations. This can also be a chance to learn from others in your field with more experience. 


Credibility

Improving your credibility is important, whether you're a new business looking to earn the trust of potential clients or an established business that is still relevant and taking new directions. People take notice of recommendations; they are the best form of advertising, so recognition from peers in the industry can help you create an authentic image for yourself.


Morale and motivation 

We all desire recognition and appreciation for our contributions, and a nomination for an award can generate excitement and showcase individual team members' efforts. Awards can really build self-confidence in each team member, as well as act as confirmation to the whole team that they are doing well and that their hard work has paid off. This can then motivate them further. 


Reputation 

Receiving awards can help you stand out from the competition, helping to show your business as credible and genuine, often demonstrating innovation and experience. This will also help to boost sales. 


One drawback I've encountered is that certain circles may perceive multiple award wins as detrimental. Many awards are dependent on a nomination from someone else, but some awards have no real credibility in terms of awarding genuine professionals, relying instead purely on social media votes, which is great if you have a large following, but that doesn’t mean that you are reliable or good at what you do. 


People often ask me, "Why do you want more awards?" Haven’t you got enough? People often perceive striving for recognition and self-development as an indication of an inflated ego. I don’t think we should ever stop striving to be better or not take the opportunity for self-reflection. For me personally, following years of abuse, I have always struggled with feeling good enough, and while that sense of self-worth can only come from within, it doesn’t hurt to get some external validation too. After my first few awards, when I continued to receive more, there was a moment where I almost felt guilty about sharing the news. Would people think I was showing off? Would people think I didn't truly appreciate that recognition and see it as just a publicity thing? I grew up in an environment that didn't express love or pride in me, and viewed anything less than the best as inadequate.


Consequently, I fell into abusive relationships, which reinforced that feeling of not being worthy. Who would ever want me? How would I ever become anything? But it has taken me many years to realise that I have overcome a lot of adversity and that I am someone who has something to offer. I work extremely hard, sacrificing any real social life to constantly progress and help others in the process. I want to show others the support that I never had. If I have the opportunity to receive recognition for my achievements, I will finally feel proud of them and understand their value. 


Bench marking 

While there are many nominees who work incredibly hard and offer exceptional service but may never receive an award, the whole process of being considered can still be a good indicator of where you fall within your industry and whether there are certain areas that you could develop. You may even receive some feedback from the judging panel, and free advice from those with potentially more expertise is a valuable thing. 


Self-reflection

It is so easy to keep plodding on and not really take time to appreciate how far you’ve come. While the paperwork following award nominations can be lengthy, it is an opportunity to reflect on the things you’ve done and how they have impacted your business, as well as contributed to your personal development. For me, it's only when I sit down and review everything I've done that I realize how much I've grown, and I take pride in that, regardless of whether I receive an award or not. It is a chance to evaluate how many goals you have achieved, or maybe opportunities that you should have taken advantage of but didn’t. This can be a valuable learning experience, enabling you to identify any improvements that you can make going forward. It can also serve as a tool to reflect on your desired reputation and assess if it aligns with your current business operations. 


…and the winner is... 


Of course, winning an award multiplies all these benefits, but I prefer to view it as a chance to achieve something more. When you win an award, public interest in you increases, and other nominees will wonder, ‘What does she have that I don’t? ’ As much as my PTSD has diverted me away from public speaking on many occasions, when the moment comes to give an acceptance speech, I see this as time to raise awareness of public issues that I have addressed in my work, examples being domestic abuse and trauma, mental health, inequality in women’s health, etc. It is important to use this platform to show the world what you stand for, because soon enough, it will be old news and nobody will care. 


The psychology behind receiving awards

Award honours have a double-edged nature: the success of one individual often results in the exclusion of another. We find it intriguing to witness the recipients of recognition for their accomplishments, as we perceive the victors to embody the finest experts in their respective domains. However, it's important to note that the work receiving recognition might not always align with optimal practices. How do we select a winner when the nominees aren’t comparable to each other?


Regardless of the title of the award, we must recognize its social component in addition to its stated objective. This means that winning an award goes beyond the quality of an individual's work, encompassing the essential social contributions needed to qualify for such recognition. o be eligible for such recognition. Most experienced and established individuals in any field, possessing numerous accomplishments, may receive nominations in subsequent years, each year adding to the complexity of this process. There may be a manufactured element to how people establish their reputations, and if you don't belong to specific social circles, no one knows you or understands the type of work you do, making it challenging to build a reputation. 


Awards that acknowledge employees' accomplishments are a wonderful idea for businesses, but there's a chance that those who don't win could feel devalued by them. When an award recognizes a specific body of work but fails to meet the social component, it is natural to feel disappointed.


Nominees are more susceptible to the claims made by the award than the actual selection process. This poses problems because those who form the more dominant social group frequently mirror the organization's broader power structure, which can shift more slowly than the nominee demography. Therefore, individuals belonging to the majority culture continue to receive some of the main awards, which may not necessarily reflect a clear bias, but rather reflect the individuals with whom they interact more frequently. People may perceive awards intended to recognize service excellence as favoring older, more experienced individuals who have worked in a field longer than others. This can pose a challenge for younger individuals seeking recognition and acknowledgement for their contributions. Therefore, it's crucial to recognize the various social factors that influence the distribution of rewards.


Which awards are right for yours business?

 It is crucial to pursue awards that are in line with your company's objectives and core values, as well as your level of expertise, professionalism, and passion, in order to maximize the impact of winning. The award, whether local or national, for small or large organisations, should fit your company's needs and strategic goals. For example, I do a lot of charity work, so winning local social impact awards has been perfect for me to showcase my charity collaborations and fundraising. This is your opportunity to describe the origins of your company, emphasising the difficulties you have overcome, the effects on the community, your principles, etc. There is still space for personality and emotion in business awards. 


There will be some awards that appear less authentic, for example, where there is no judging panel, just social media votes, or where you have to pay for your award. Surely, if you're going to win an award, you want it to be because you've earned it based on the work you've done. 


Summary

By using award applications as a platform to reflect on your accomplishments, you can assess your methods to pinpoint areas for business improvement. Consider why you've made specific decisions and their impact, why you've established certain partnerships, how you've mitigated risk, and so on.

 

Through reflection, we can learn and build our confidence, which is important when trying to inspire others. If we constantly compare ourselves to others, perhaps with more experience, we will simply feel inadequate. But if we examine our achievements and how far we have come, particularly where there has been adversity, we can increase our self-belief. This in turn will empower us to make evidence-based changes that allow us to stand out from competitors. 


Award nominations can help us increase our own self-awareness through self-reflection and evaluation of our thought processes, as well as raise awareness of your business among other professionals in the same industry. 


We all have different strengths, so it’s time to celebrate your achievements and be proud of who you have become and what you have built.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

 

Sam Mishra, The Medical Massage Lady

Sam Mishra (The Medical Massage Lady), is a multi-award winning massage therapist, aromatherapist, accredited course tutor, oncology practitioner, trauma practitioner and breathwork facilitator. Her medical background as a nurse and a midwife, combined with her own experiences of childhood disability and abuse, have resulted in a diverse and specialized service. She is motivated by the adversity she has faced, using it as a driving force in her charity work and in offering the vulnerable a means of support. Her aim is to educate about medical conditions using easily understood language, to avoid inappropriate treatments being carried out and for health promotion purposes in the general public.


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