The post-election period in Zimbabwe has unravelled with it some very interesting insights about life which have provided me with boundless food for thought. Over the last few days I have listened to many conversations around meritocracy and the President’s choice of a “refreshed” cabinet. These reminded me of a conversation I had with a colleague earlier in the year, when we were exchanging notes about the benefits of a society that practices meritocracy. Our candid chat naturally gravitated towards China’s meritocratic model of governance and we discussed the pros and cons of this model and whether it could be adopted as best practice in society. This conversation was recently rekindled in my mind as I read and listened to different analysts’ comments on the new cabinet. Prior to the cabinet appointments, the President was under immense pressure to set up a “refreshed cabinet that would gain public confidence with capacity to turn around the country’s economic fortunes.”
Efforts and Reward Systems
This article is not another analysis of the cabinet nor is it about the selection criteria thereof. Rather, it is my intention, based on the aforementioned reflections, to inspire every individual, myself included, to interrogate our respective motives and efforts in light of the reward systems inbuilt in society. Many of us have ambitious aspirations based on what we believe to be our calling, life assignment or simply dreams and hopes. Based on these aspirations, we often invest great time and effort so that we can receive some type of commensurate reward or recognition on the same. These investments can be in our spiritual growth, our personal development, our relationships, our career advancement prospects, and in some instances political ambitions to serve the greater good of society. It is very natural to feel frustrated and disappointed when we do not receive the recognition or reward that we feel should be returned on these efforts. Let’s take a moment for self-introspection. When we invest our hundred and one percent effort into something of significance, what do we expect in return? What if the reward we receive is only internal fulfilment without public appreciation? How do we deal with the disappointment of not making it to a list we thought we automatically qualified for? What would you do if you feel short-changed by a process within an organisation you have faithfully paid loyalty and allegiance to? Would you seek to find redress if you felt that you are the man or the woman for the job yet you were overlooked on the list? Can we take it lying down if we believe that our efforts are not getting the recognition we feel they deserve?
Meritocracy and Recognition
Meritocracy is a political philosophy which holds that certain things, such as economic goods or power, should be vested in individuals on the basis of talent, effort, and achievement. It is an efficient system of assigning power positions in different structures which has proven to be effective over the time. Whilst meritocracy is based on the principle of rewarding a person’s effort, in doing so, it disregards the fact that not everyone starts on the same footing due to circumstances out of one’s control. One of the primary concerns with meritocracy is the unclear definition of "merit." It cannot be ensured that this merit is within the reach of all the members of a society. What is considered as meritorious can differ with opinions as on which qualities are considered most worthy, raising the question of which "merit" is the highest—or, in other words, which standard is the "best" standard. The reliability of the authority and system that assesses each individual's merit is another point of concern. As a meritocratic system relies on a standard of merit to measure and compare people against, the system by which this is done has to be reliable to ensure that their assessed merit accurately reflects their potential capabilities. These are some of the few pros and cons of meritocracy.
What is the motive behind your effort?
Having briefly reflected on meritocracy, it is needless to say that receiving public recognition is often a key to greater job satisfaction. It demonstrates that your contributions have been noticed and the work is appreciated. However, not every position lends itself well to inherently getting noticed, and that can leave you feeling as though your efforts are being taken for granted. Sometimes our greatest snare is the feeling of entitlement. We all need an occasional pat on the back—literal or metaphorical. In the final analysis however, we ought to ask ourselves why we are investing time and effort in what we are doing. Is it for public recognition or for life changing impact?
Back to my earlier reflections on post-election Zimbabwe, I hope you concur that every system is designed with inevitable limits, the number of cabinet seats included. In a recent conversation I had with a colleague who works in the Office of Participatory Governance in the Philippines, I realise that sometimes we limit our prospects, potential and what we can create for the greater good by assuming that we can only have impact if we are in a particular position. Whilst it is very natural to be fearful that the time and effort you are investing is not yielding the recognition that you had hoped for, I am convinced beyond doubt that we can live out the fullness of all what God has ordained in us to be if we all fully apply ourselves and lead with excellence from where we are. Instead of despairing that your obvious talents are going to waste - or at least are not being recognized, I propose that you examine the motive behind your effort and continue to lead strong from where you are.
Cynthia Chirinda Hakutangwi is an Organisational and Personal Development Consultant, a Life Coach, Author, and Strategist. Her latest book, “The Connection Factor: Unlocking your Individual potential through your Connections,” provides some relational nuggets to individuals who seek to establish meaningful, relevant and fulfilling relationships that can unlock their potential. Looking at improving your career, personal effectiveness, communication skills, relationships, focus, faith and happiness? Wholeness Incorporated Coaching offers you strategies you can implement today to achieve your goals. E-mail: email@example.com. LinkedIn: Cynthia Chirinda Hakutangwi. Mobile: 263 717 013 206