To Be or To Do?

September 28, 2007 — 4 Comments

You want praise from people who kick themselves every 15 minutes, the approval of people who despise themselves?

Or, the other translation:

Dost thou desire to please him who pleaseth not himself or dost thou think that he pleaseth himself who doth use to repent himself almost of everything that he doth
The Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius By Marcus Aurelius, Meric Casaubon

Credit or Influence? When it comes to the two, I’m not really sure it’s even a question. Because credit really, doesn’t mean anything. The people you’d be seeking it from–if the analogy stays true–are precisely the people who had to fight so hard to prove wrong. It seems almost comical then that the ultimate validation would be for them to finally endorse it. That doesn’t make any more right. All throughout school, I was one of the smartest kids in the room but people rarely knew it. Look at where I ended up for college. Normally, the standards or the incentives would keep me quiet. But sometimes, it’d get shown and everyone would see. And guess what? It didn’t make me feel any better and it certainly didn’t improve the quality of my work.

Normally, it just made me angry and disillusioned. It was like “Now, you’re our equal. Welcome.” What good does that do me? What good does it do anyone? Boyd is totally right. At some point, you’ll come to a crucial point in your life when you have to decide if you want to be someone that does stuff, or talk about doing stuff, if your goal is action and progress or credit and accolades. I decided a long time about which route I was going to take every time I came to that fork. It puts you at peace and it saves you from the slavery of other people. The first thing you learn when truly open your eyes and look at the world as it is, for what it is, is that the people who you seem so willing to tie your happiness or correctness too, are stupid, unexamined and hypocritical.

Source: Two really good posts on Credit vs Influence and Contrarians always losing.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

4 responses to To Be or To Do?

  1. R-

    The problem–or one problem–with our school system is that it doesn’t really encourage ciphering, deep thought.

    It teaches people to be little bitches that can push papers, and not make mistakes. It’s doing an excellent job. I was depressed in High School because…this was it?

    In college, I went to two (I DID graduate from GWU)…and it was the same deal. “This is it?????” And yet, I want people to say “Good Job, dude,” But which people?

    Galt’s Gulch? Seeking approbation is natural/normal/stupid, and it’s fun to recognize yourself doing it.

  2. Of course. And if you’ve found people that deserve for you to desire their praise–you know how much harder that makes you work.

  3. “The first thing you learn when truly open your eyes and look at the world as it is, for what it is, is that the people who you seem so willing to tie your happiness or correctness too, are stupid, unexamined and hypocritical.”

    The truth sets you free

  4. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

    To laugh often and much,

    To win the respect of intelligent people

    and the affection of children;

    To earn the appreciation of honest critics

    and endure the betrayal of false friends;

    To find the best in others;

    To leave the world a bit better,

    whether by a healthy child, a garden patch

    or a redeemed social condition;

    To know even one life has breathed easier

    because you have lived.

    This is to have succeeded.

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