Recognition vs. Impact

When you're creating something what are you doing it for? Maybe you're a designer posting something on dribbble hoping it will go viral. Perhaps you're a photographer searching for likes on Instagram or an artist hoping something you made is sold on Etsy. No matter the case these are all examples of creating for recognition.  I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with this, I believe it's in the nature of creative people to feel validated and verified for something they have created. Which leads to who are you creating your work for? Is it for potential fans on social media? Judges behind award competitions? In other words, people who you want recognition from. Impact, however, might go unnoticed, unrecognized. Many of the artists we love and admire were unrecognized when they were alive, but the impact these artists have made is unmistakable. Van Gough was unrecognized. Aaron Draplin boasts confidently during his speaking gigs that he has never won a design award.

Recognition is about serving yourself. The impact is about serving others.  If you are a designer seeking praise from other designers, or a business owner only working for the stakeholders then you are seeking recognition. Seeking recognition is usually related to playing the short game, playing for instant gratification. Creating impact is a long game, it might take a lot of failures, a lot of mistakes to create real impact, but ironically if you do end up getting recognition for the impact you are creating(often times you won't) it is most likely going to be more valuable to you, you will cherish it more. 

The bottom line is that if a business wants to create real long-term growth it needs to focus on the impact it's creating not the recognition. If a brand wants to create real relationships with consumers it needs to seek to create real impact for them rather than seek their recognition. Marketing without vision is recognition seeking... add a vision and a real mission and then marketing can now seek impact and real results. Creatives need to tell a story, send a message, make an impact, and let the recognition take care of itself. 

Recognition is finite but leaving a mark, an impact on the world and the people around you that is meaningful, that is timeless.

What's the point to all of this? Too many people(including myself at times) seek the Facebook thumbs up, the shiny award, the recognition. We should be focusing on using our talent and our abilities in making a difference, making an impact. 

It is okay to desire praise, to desire recognition, but let that be a bi-product of the impact you create for others and not the goal.