In spite of your best efforts, what if someone does not appreciate your work?
When we are young, we have a lot of dreams. The most beautiful thing about life when young is that you actually believe in your dreams. Those dreams are very real for you. From one moment to the next, from one day to the next, you actually believe that one day, those dreams will come true. In your dream world, there is always only joy and happiness. There is certainly no school, no studies, no mathematics, no physics, no chemistry, there is only fun. Plenty of fun. You are doing things you love to do, even if you don’t know what it is you love to do. You imagine there will be only good things in my world. You keep that grey. So, life is a fairy tale at that age.
As we grow older, things begin to shift a little. We start coming across people who:
A) don’t share our dream with us and tell us that we don’t know what real life is.
B) some who tell us that our dreams don’t have any meaning.
C) some who encourage us to keep working so that eventually, we get there.
We also come across those people who put us down, and say we are no good. We also come across those who don’t appreciate our work. And then, our dreams are shaken.
If we are weak, they (dreams) are shattered. But nobody can take your dreams away from you. No one. Never give anybody the power to take away your dream from you.
When I was your age, I wanted to learn drawing. I was a very quiet and serious kid. I never made a ruckus anywhere in my whole life. We started going to a drawing teacher. He would assign me work, and I would finish it in a week or two, be it the drawing of a box, flowerpot or a landscape. After 3 or 4 weeks, he told me, ‘I am not going to teach you.’ I asked, Why? What happened?’ He said, “I don’t teach boys.’
I heard discrimination, but you could have been more subtle about it. So I asked, ‘ ‘Why, what have I done?’ He said, ‘I don’t teach boys. They are very naughty, very mischievous.’ I protested, ‘I haven’t done anything. I have been quiet as a mouse, I show up, I do my job, I ride back home.’ He said, ‘No, I cannot teach you.’
And that was the end of my dream of painting. I never painted after that. Very rarely, I draw sketches, but I never did. (painting).
Never give anybody the power to break your dream. And how do they break your dream? They do it by first, not appreciating your work, by telling you that you can’t do it. They do it by always giving you examples of those who are doing it better than you. They want you to do what they couldn’t. But sometimes, it does not hurt to pay attention (to them) because sometimes they may be genuine well-wishers.They might know that it is not cut out for you. Or maybe, you need to improve.
Long back, one of my friends in school, called Parampal, was exceptionally good at painting. He was so good in water colour paints that he could paint, practically, with his eyes closed.. In any painting competition, we would all huddle around him, because we knew that when he started to paint, everybody would come looking for him – and then they would also see us with him!, We used to tag along and piggyback on his skills. While we doodled on our sheets, he painted . In any competition, he always won either the first or the second prize. I don’t remember any competition where I got any prize, except when I got a second prize in a caricature drawing competition., Whatever he painted always came alive.
So in such a scenario, if I expected people to appreciate my work, I would be imagining things. Sometimes, when people don’t appreciate your work, maybe, the work actually needs improvement.
So then, what do you do if someone is not appreciating your work? Well, what’s even more important is to not let that affect you. What is important is to be able to tell yourself, I did the best I could. If that is not good enough for somebody, I am going to analyze how I can do it better. But I am not going to let that ruin my peace.
So when you go out in the school, or tomorrow step into the real world and start to do things, take it as a given that they are not going to appreciate your work. If it happens, good for you. If it doesn’t, we don’t work because we want it to be appreciated. We work, because we want to work. Thousands of people read my books, but some like it, some don’t like it. Some are quiet about it, some go and share their review or perspective about it and some don’t. It does not mean they don’t appreciate it; doesn’t mean they appreciate it, either. It doesn’t mean anything. I am not writing a book expecting someone to appreciate it..
There is one more example I would like to give you here from my corporate work life. In a corporate, the higher up you are, the lesser your work is appreciated. It is very cutthroat at that level. It’s just not just dog eat dog, it’s like I will eat everybody. They never appreciate your work. If you deliver on a project, you will be lucky to get a smile from the board, because they are very hard-nosed people, very uptight.
I did not care if no one appreciated my work.. My job was to deliver, and the way they appreciated it was by paying me my salary. Nowhere in the employment contract or consulting agreement was it mentioned that as part of doing a good job, everyday, they will sit me down and do my aarti. It was written nowhere that they speak very highly of me, sing my glories, tell me how great I am, how this world is such a beautiful place with me in it, how I am the center of this universe, and how they just don’t deserve to teach me or be with me or work with me. None of that was written in the contract. The contract simply said they will pay me x thousand dollars per day, and I was going to deliver on a project. Period.
When we do something because we want appreciation, we are already starting out on a wrong foot. Tell yourself that you will keep doing what you are doing, and do it so well, that one day, the world may, or may not, take notice. Either way, it doesn’t matter.
There was this scientist in Russia, who won a Nobel prize for science. Guess what he did? He said, “I am not going up there. It’s not a circus that I have to show my act. What do I care if a committee of seven or ten people say, ‘Oh you have done amazing work!’ I know I have done amazing work. I don’t need them to tell me.”
He didn’t go to receive the prize. He turned it down. Look at the strength of individuality, – and of course the height of craziness, or both. It may well be an ego bigger than the Himalayas, but he said, “I don’t care. I am proud of my work. That’s all that matters.”
So, you need to put your best foot forward, and be proud of it. If you don’t give up, if you keep on working at whatever it is that you are working one step at a time, one day you will arrive at a juncture, where you will have outperformed yourself, where you will have outlasted all your critics, where you will have outdone everything that came your way.
The way to do that is to believe in yourself and be realistic about it.
This post is transcribed from the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOtRCoY4VQw
Himalayan mystic and best-selling author Om Swami has transformed thousands of lives sharing his insights, his experiments and experiences with anyone who is on the path of personal fulfilment, happiness and discovery. Today he spearheads a movement in the form of Black Lotus, a mobile app designed to raise the Kindfulness Quotient in the world through Kindness and Mindfulness.