Commencement Part 5: Recognition Doesn’t Make Me Happy.

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It is hypocritical to say I don’t enjoy being acknowledged for a job well-done. But I have learned praise is like a donut. Overindulgence makes me fat.

Beyond some practical business benefits, recognition has never felt like a proper reward. This was a surprise. When I began – actually up through hour 10,000 or so – I honestly thought being published and praised by my peers would be thrilling. An emotional high. But every time a project would win an award or become published in a journal of stellar work I would open the book, look and feel nothing. This is no exaggeration. I realized all to slowly the awards were nothing more than a distraction from what I really loved – doing the work – and furthermore misrepresented the reason for working in the first place.

Recognition is fleeting. One day I am being quoted and re-tweeted by the most lyrical voices in the Twittersphere. The next day I am just another schmuck with a deadline looming like the blade of a guillotine, believing for all the world my worth dependant on the approval of others.

Finally, I don’t need that kind of approval to be happy. I can see on my own that my work has made a difference, so I am satisfied.Whenever I do, I am filled with the sweet juice of gratitude.

Next installment posted Monday, July 11:
The Creative Process is Intrinsically Optimistic