Excellence is its own reward. Fall in love with excellence such that you derive pleasure from doing a great job. You won’t be looking for applause from people, but when they do come, that will be a happy bonus. In psychological terms, a shift from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation.
Think about it: when God created the universe, who was there to pat His back? Yet as we read the creation account, it keeps saying, “and God saw that it was good.” The climax came on the sixth day, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good,” (Genesis 1:31). Not just ‘good’, but ‘very good.’ In short, God stepped back, surveyed His creation and derived deep satisfaction from it.
Instead of being an approval junkie, be an excellence junkie.
An echo of such divine pleasure should resonate in our own work. We do an impeccable job, step back, behold at what we’ve done and exclaim to ourselves, ‘Hey, it is pretty good!” Do this whether your task is monotonous or thrilling, menial or strategic, manual or mental. Instead of being an approval junkie, be an excellence junkie.
Before you get appreciated, earn the right to be appreciated. Take an honest look at your work. Things have a way of becoming a vicious cycle: the boss doesn’t appreciate you, you are demoralized and render lackluster work, therefore the boss doesn’t appreciate you. It is a bitter possibility, but one you should explore without being defensive. Then find ways and strive to be better such that your change will be self-evident.
Another thing: Have a reputation for being a superior employee and if your boss won’t appreciate you; other bosses will.
Most of all, perform for the audience of One. Trust that your earthly boss may be clueless to your hard work, but your Heavenly Boss sees your work and proclaims “It is very good!”
That alone motivates me to no end. I am sure it will motivate you, too.
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