Recognition: is it worth the cost?

There is that old little anecdote of the successful businessman who, during his holidays, anchors his dazzling yacht close to an idyllic beach. He puts on his panama hat and heads towards the sand. Overtaken by that holiday ecstasy that always makes one prone to extroversion, he wears his best smile and starts a chat with a native. And he asks him what he does at that place. Our executive friend is then surprised with the local’s modest ambitions. All the latter did was to catch in the morning the fish he would then have for lunch. “But why don’t you spend more hours fishing and then sell your surplus at the local market?”. Why would he do that? “To save some money. To buy a better boat. To get rich!”. The native is not convinced. “So then you can travel. And get to know wonderful places!” The local can only smirk.

Maybe only those who don’t really know what they want need that many choices. Freedom is being able to follow only one option, the one that makes you feel good.

Ibiza. Platja d’es Porroig. A blue bay, where you would not even notice the movements of the water, were it not for the sudden tinkle of the rocks by the shore. And there is me thinking that I don’t really know how much of an income I’ll have until the end of the year. Inflows are currently much more variable.

Interestingly enough, the doubt comes exactly at a moment when my decisions are oscillating between adopting either a more commercial or a more authorial approach to my projects. When I chose to try a life outside the corporate world, I had hoped I could adhere to only two performance indicators in whatever I would do: to be honest with myself and to have fun. The rest, I would see how it would come.

After all, the idea of it all is to take a break to mull things over… to read, learn, study… but also to enjoy it! To go to the beach on a Thursday. To have fun! To become less commercial. Does that mean participating less in markets? To move away from the pecuniary?

To be honest with myself. Something like trying and being authentic? Only if I am ready to rely less on external recognition. I should be ready to expect nothing.

Not even money?

In the financial market, recognition is money. Ok, it is nice to get compliments, to realize you have been helpful, that kind of thing. However, things would get really clear only when it was time for the annual bonus. After a year of doubts. About you being paid according to your results? About you having a good performance? About you being a good person?

By the way, there were people who said that the bonus reflected past performance. Others would argue it was paid according to what they expected you to deliver the next year. I had a theory that the bonus was also paid according to the degree of motivation of an employee. Thus, you would be paid enough to feel beyond yourself with joy for three months. Because then in the next two or three months, you would start questioning whether it was worth to keep up with so much dedication (the 12 hour work journey, the trips and all else I have once mentioned here.) But at that point, half of the year would have been gone. And you would decide to keep the ball rolling in the remaining half, because you don’t want to give up on what you already did. E la nave va.

To be less commercial. To be authentic. To go into the woods without a trail nor a guide. To start up a project without any outlook of the financial return is scary not only because of the possibility of relinquishing the things that money can buy. Giving up on the financial perspective also means abdicating a measure of recognition (value?) that money grants you. Therefore, it is not surprising that financial concerns arise more vigorously during moments of personal insecurity. When you’re questioning how much you’re capable of.

For a long time I have thought freedom meant having as many choices as possible at my disposal. That quitting the financial market would be worth the effort only if I could maintain the life style I had become accustomed to: traveling wherever I wanted, staying at the hotel I wanted to. Maybe only those who don’t really know what they want need that many choices. Freedom is being able to follow only one option, the one that makes you feel good.

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