Envelope Please

As a child, I watched the Academy Awards every year with my parents. Back when there were four TV channels, it was a big treat to stay up late and see the stars in all their splendor. I recall George C. Scott and Marlon Brando refusing to accept Best Actor Oscars for their performances in Patton and The Godfather. I remember Bob Hope returning after a 10-year absence to host the 50th ceremony and Johnny Carson doing an outstanding job hosting five times from 1978-1983.

The tradition continues with my family. Kathy and I always have enjoyed watching during our nearly quarter century of marriage. Our eldest daughter is a big film buff – and since she boomeranged home after graduating from college, we had the pleasure of watching the 85th edition with her. The glamour and glitz displayed Sunday night – from ‘Who are you wearing?’ questions on the Red Carpet, to the many musical production numbers, to the appearances of legends like Jane Fonda and Barbra Streisand – continued the long history of celebrating the magic of Hollywood.

One thing that dawned on me as I watched is how much emphasis we, as a society, place on winning. Getting nominated isn’t good enough – and the ‘non-winners’ are quickly forgotten. Want proof? In 2009, Slumdog Millionaire received the Oscar for Best Picture: name one other film nominated. OK, that was hard. Here’s an easier one: The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last October – who did they beat?

Competition is great. Awards are important. Victory feels terrific. However, Vince Lombardi might have been wrong when he said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” Perhaps commitment is what we should celebrate. So the next time you want to motivate employees, don’t create a competition to reward whoever finishes first. Focus on the effort.

By the way, when Jennifer Lawrence stumbled on her dress while ascending the steps to accept her Best Actress award, you may have noticed only one person in the audience jumped out of his seat to assist her. That gentleman displayed the humility and realness of a regular guy, not some Hollywood elitist – which is why I’ll be rooting for Hugh Jackman to win his first Academy Award the next time he’s up for an Oscar.


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