Creative Juice: People Always Applaud The Wrong Things

March 3, 2014

Last night, I enjoyed watching the Academy Awards…

Well, I enjoyed watching some of the ceremony.  Ellen was the best.  Matthew McConaughey’s speech was phenomenal. Plenty of deserving people were recognized.

Awards are enjoyable because in their purest form, we are celebrating excellence. We applaud people who are the best or have created the best.


We also know that awards do not live up to their ideals.  We know that they are political.  We know that they are not pure.  We know that sometimes they are unjust.  The best do not win.  People who should lose walk away with the trophy.  Some people get awards because people think they should get the award, not because they deserve the award.

We know all of this.  But still, it is hard to not watch the Academy Awards and wish just a little that a great crowd of people was applauding us.  Just once, you know.  It would be nice if people thought we were the best (even if we aren’t.)  It would be nice if they gave us an award (even if we don’t really deserve it.)  But most of us won’t ever get the recognition we crave.  Whatever recognition we get won’t really satisfy us if we are pursuing recognition.

And so it is on this day-after-the-Oscars that I am reminded of a man who was decidedly outside the establishment, who shunned applause and recognition, who understood the intoxicating corruption that accolades, awards and applause can create.  He understood that people are often enchanted by things that are not really beautiful, timeless or true.  And therefore, living in pursuit of applause is a lousy way to live.


What if we went about our work today, free from worry that people will not recognize our efforts?  What if we were equally happy for the success and the applause that others receive?  What if we took satisfaction in our work, not because of what others think of it, but because it is what we were born to do?  That would be an amazing thing.