Friday, December 27, 2013

Praise and The Work Itself

You have to set up your life to receive recognition and praise. Enter contests, have your friends nominate you for awards and memberships (if you succeed, they receive the plus of being effective in this realm), change jobs if your current institution does not treat you appropriately. Give talks and presentations, arrange sessions at national meetings, and help others succeed so that they owe you rather than you owe them.

Once in a while you may receive a kudo out of the blue. You are at a dinner party with 300 guests and find yourself seated at a central table. An authoritative figure in your institution or field, leans forward and stops the conversations, and then tells the table how your advice is most valued. You knew they appreciated your work, but out of the blue, in a public occasion, you are praised effusively and honestly. Or, in an email a scholarly authority writes you to tell you how much they appreciate your latest book, and they say that it is "truly a masterpiece." 

Such vatic pronouncements do not happen often. Reviews may well praise you, but personal kudos from authoritative figures are rare. (Don't count introductions to a talk you are giving.)

What should keep you going is the work itself. Kudos are wonderful, and they are encouraging. But what if they do not come when you need them? If you are fortunate, the work itself will sustain you.

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