Friday, May 3, 2013

Tao #2 : Taking Credit

"A wise person works without taking credit."
This idea completely contradicts what we've been taught. Aren't we supposed to take credit for our work? Aren't we supposed to promote our accomplishments? Aren't we supposed to put our names on our tests before we turn them in?

Our system of doing things often does require us to take credit for our work, often for the sake of accountability, but that's not the main problem for us. The problem is the psychological effect of habitually taking credit, especially when it cultivates a selfish, paranoid attitude that makes it impossible to work with other people.

There are very few successful lone artists or mad scientists in history. The most important work has mostly been done in collaboration. Collaboration requires leadership, and leadership requires a certain kind of creative generosity; it requires you to offer up ideas, let your team run with the good ones and own them, and then work on them as if they weren't your own. If you're too focused on getting recognition, you're not capable of leading--you're distracted by self-concern, and you're not willing to credit others and encourage them in their efforts. Your team will suffer from the diminished leadership capabilities of their teammate, and there will be fewer results to even take credit for (even if you're not the one in charge--everyone needs good leadership skills). Have you ever seen two writers in a cafe arguing over who is going to get credit for a screenplay that they haven't even written? Do they even write the screenplay, or do they spend all week figuring out whose idea is whose and then give up? Think about the wasted energy there.

All that brainpower devoted toward garnering recognition should be used for noticing opportunities and acting on them, or giving credit to those people who help you do what you have to do. Then you'll actually accomplish great acts, acts worthy of receiving credit.

At that point, you won't even need to try seeking acknowledgment in order to receive it.

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