I found an Internet meme with three great pieces of advice, and I thought it would be a good exercise for me to flesh out what each one really means.
Advice #1: Work for a cause, not for applause.
For me, this means that we should think for ourselves, and when we take action, we should do so because it’s the right thing to do, not because others expect it of us, and regardless of whether others approve or not. People who perform for the approval of others eventually end up struggling to be someone they are not, or doing things that are against their values, or even against the law. In addition, this means that when we give of ourselves to better the world, we should do so without any expectation of recognition or reward.
Advice #2: Live life to express, not to impress
This is a variation on the first piece of advice, but once again, it is about being true to ourselves, rather than trying to be someone we are not. It is also about taking responsibility for our own decisions, rather than putting the responsibility or the blame on others.
Advice #3: Don’t strive to make your presence noticed; just make your absence felt.
This piece of advice follows from the first two. If you wish to do good in the world, do it quietly, without fanfare. No one really needs to know what you did. You know and God knows, and that’s enough. In fact, I think I’m going to go one better: To be really effective, you should inspire others to do what you are doing, so that the good you do will not stop when you are gone, and your absence will not cause a ripple of concern. 🙂