Beyond Recognition

Why do we crave recognition?

Why do we want our work to be acknowledged?

For me, these are signs of progress when I'm doing work that impacts others. I feel good when I achieve a goal, but I often don't feel a true sense of accomplishment until relevant parties notice the step forward.

"Love that document you put together! Super helpful for future projects."

"Great workshop! I enjoyed the new format. Thanks for running that!"

While there is often an audience for the work I do, expecting behavior from them is no way to build momentum because, for one, what if it never comes? Do you stop and give up?

The more that I explore the source of this mindset, I notice there's more to the story: getting clear on what I set out to do in the first place. I seek recognition or acknowledgment when I am not clear with myself on what I wanted to create.

For example, it's not about completing the deck; it's about the team having the autonomy to repeat a process without guidance or clients getting more hands-on during a design presentation.

Recognition is different than feedback. While being recognized may feel good and lift our spirits, it's temporary and rarely actionable enough to move an idea forward. To create results, what we want is information. Information we can get when we ask for specific feedback.

Vision: The team has the autonomy to repeat the process without guidance.

  • Recognition: "Love that document you put together! Super helpful for future projects."
  • Feedback: "Appreciate that your document gives us a reference point for future projects, but I do worry that people won't reference it because of the length. Any thoughts on how we could make it more digestible?"

Vision: The client can engage and give more real-time feedback during the design process.

  • Recognition: "Great workshop! I enjoyed the new format. Thanks for running that!"
  • Feedback: "Great workshop! The new format was fun. I enjoyed seeing so much engagement from the client during the brainstorm compared to the intro section. I wonder how we can make that part more exciting?"

Once we get clear on what we want to create, feedback can anchor us to the results. From there, we may decide we can move on to discover a new vision or decide there's more work to be done. Either way, we can breathe knowing that we're in control of getting what we need to make our vision a reality.

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Related: "Shaping 'The Path of Least Resistance' to Create the Life You Want"