I sometimes wonder if I would pursue dressage if no awards were offered. Think about it. Would you bust your chops to get that next score if no certificate and patch were offered? What about getting that last Third Level score for a bronze if no bronze medal existed?
I am going to say that I would probably not be involved in dressage if it were not for the award programs offered by USDF and my own GMO, the California Dressage Society (CDS). I am a competitive person and highly goal oriented. While my motivation is mainly intrinsic - I am proud of a job well done, I do crave public recognition in the form of external rewards. I need at least some extrinsic motivation to propel me forward.
Fortunately, most of my motivation comes from within. Had I been the type who craves recognition in the form of podiums and endorsements, I would have quit long ago. Not to say there's anything wrong with being rewarded so dramatically; it's just that I would have lived life perpetually disappointed. I am simply not good enough to earn such a powerful spotlight.
I am good enough to earn certificates though, and Speedy and I have earned a pile of them! Since certificates are cheap, USDF and CDS can afford to be generous in how they're handed out. It is surprising how hard I have worked, and how much preparation and planning it took, to earn those certificates. While they may simply be a few words mass printed on a page, for me, they represent hard work and acknowledgement of a goal achieved.
Speedy and I were pretty successful this year if that success is measured by ribbons, trinkets, and certificates. The wins didn't come at CDIs and my competition was often just me, but I'll take those shiny small moments and hang them where they will continue to inspire me to keep trying.
What about you? Does your motivation come from within, or do you crave tangible proof of your success?