“The biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it.”
― Criss Jami
We all want to be somebody. We all want the cool job title. When someone asks us what we do for a career we want to say: I’m a writer, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m the head of a Fortune 500 Company, I’m [fill in the blank].
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be somebody, but when wanting to be somebody i.e. (wanting recognition and praise) becomes more important than the actual work we do, there is a terrible problem. When our personal reputation is more important to us than our work itself, our work will suffer.
If we let out reputation take a front seat, everything we do will become a sort of image control. We’ll stop caring so much about how our work impacts others or makes the world better, and start to only care about the way it makes us look.
So many of us want the attention, the recognition, or the fame but we care little about the work itself. We just want to feel important but we don’t really want our work to be important.
We all have a choice. We can choose to chase fame, wanting to be noticed and given attention, or we can choose to be influential, where the things we do, whether we get acknowledgment for them or not, actually make an impact on society.
This choice does not only apply to those who are in the public light. It is not only for politicians and professional musicians. It applies to all of us. No matter how public our life is or how important our work is, we all have the same choice to make.
Fame or influence
Being or doing
Recognition or impact
When I was young I attended church fairly often. There we many occasions when the pastor would ask the question “what do you want to be remembered for?” At the time I thought it was a good question. But now I’m having second thoughts.
The intention behind the question is good. It is meant to make you reconsider the way you are living in light of how people will remember you when you are dead and gone. But what if we could as the same type of question, but in a better more useful way?
How about… what kind of influence do you want to have in your life?
This question may seem the same on the surface but it is really quite different. The question the pastor asked was very self-centered, what do you want people to remember you for? It is essentially a question about reputation.
My question, on the other hand, is a question based on action and accomplishment. What kind of influence do you want to have? How will your actions impact your community?
It doesn’t matter what people remember you for, you’re going to be dead anyways. What matters is doing something that changes people. Doing something that will make the world better, even if it’s something that seems small and insignificant.
This desire to be influential should not be driven by ego either. You shouldn’t want to do things that have a positive influence because it will make you seem important, you should do so because the work is important.
Are you willing to risk your reputation for the sake of your work? Are you willing to stop chasing fame so that you can be truly influential?
If so, let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!