Human beings are, in large part, driven by the admiration of their peers.
We seek to satisfy a deep biological need by acting in such a way that we feel praise and adulation; for our wealth, our success, our skills, our looks. It could be anything. The trait we are admired for matters less than the admiration itself. The admiration is the token we dance for. We feel envy when others are getting more tokens than us, and we pity ourselves when we’re not getting any.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. The pursuit of (deserved) admiration causes us to drive and accomplish. It’s a part of the explanation for why the human world has moved along so far from where it started — we’re willing to do extraordinary things that are extraordinarily difficult, like starting a company from scratch, inventing a new and better product, solving some ridiculously complicated theorem, or conquering unknown territory.
This is all well and good.
The problems come when we start compromising our own standards, those we have set for ourselves, in order to earn admiration. False, undeserved admiration.
To continue reading (1264 words) you must be a Farnam Street member. (Current members can log-in here.)
To learn more about our membership options please visit this page or instantly sign up and become a Farnam Street VIP.