Desire For Recognition

Who among us doesn’t want recognition for the good we do? I do. But desire is different than need.

This blog post was triggered by a question I received in a podcast on confidence. The person said “I am a confident person, but I don’t get recognized for what I do for my company. How can I get recognition?”


While I agree that we are all confident people…to varying degrees. A person who expresses a need for recognition may not be as confident a he thinks. The most confident people I know find satisfaction in knowing that they’ve done something good, something that benefits others whether that be an individual, a group or an organization. Recognition is simply icing on the cake for them.


My response to the person’s question was:

  • When I strive for recognition is usually eludes me.
  • When I don’t seek recognition it’s readily given to me.
  • Colin Powell, in his autobiography, said “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

The Colin Powell quote has become a beacon for me in whatever I do.

You can confirm the first parts of my response by simply recalling someone whose primary interest was getting recognition for themselves. How willing were you to help them achieve their goal? In my experience, not at all.

Now recall someone whose motive was to accomplish a worthy goal, who didn’t care who got the credit. Did you feel compelled to recognize them for their contribution to the result? I’ll bet you did. The vast majority of us want to see people who are doing good, enriching the lives of others, to be recognized for their good work. It’s one of the finer aspects of our human nature.

So what’s the takeaway?

For you

Use your time and talents for the benefit of others and you’ll be recognized for your efforts more often than you imagined possible. In those instances when you don’t receive recognition, take a moment and savor your success. After all, it’s not what others think of us that matters, it’s how we feel about ourselves that determines the amount of joy we experience.

For our kids

Teach your kids that the only person that needs to know that they’ve done something good is them. The late Bobby Jones, amateur golfer, when asked why he took a penalty stroke when no one was around to see it said “I knew.” It’s the old, yet timeless, adage “Be true to yourself” that assures joy in knowing that we’ve risen above our baser instincts.

Don’t forget to live this message. As you well know, kids trust what we do more than what we say.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share them in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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