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The Prize vs The Work

These things are prizes:

  • Large amounts of money;
  • Prestige;
  • Medals and awards of all shapes and sizes;
  • Universal recognition and adoration.

It’s easy to focus on them, but they’re not the point, and in fact we feel like imposters if they’re given to us unearned and undeserved. As Adam Smith pointed out, we want “not only to be loved, but to be lovely.”

Prizes are a distraction. The thing is the work: to have made a difference that people felt was worth paying for (and of course, that is in alignment with our moral compass), to have done something that made things better.

So next time you find yourself dreaming of champagne, and medals and prizes (!), direct your focus to the people you seek to serve, and the difference you feel called to make, and do whatever comes next on that journey.

You probably don’t really want the rewards so much as you want to be “the kind of person who does X.” Recognition and prizes may come – or (more probably) they might not – but they don’t really matter if you’ve chosen the right work.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...