What do you do when no one is looking?

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May 17, 2011
Is it justDo Gooder me, or have we become a society that is all about appearances? What is the obsession with doing good only when someone is watching or someone notices? Facebook and Twitter have made it so easy for us to make sure that we are not alone in whatever we do, especially when we do good. It amazes me how many companies make sure that their charitable activities dominate the home page of their websites. Why?

Don’t misunderstand, I am not just throwing stones – I am as guilty as the next person. I even pay someone to stand next to me during my workouts to make sure that I go the extra mile. If I am left to my own devices, I will simply stop when I got tired. I am not proud of that fact, but it is the truth. At the same time, I am fiercely private and other than my workouts, I really don’t want people in my business. Does that stop me from random posting on Facebook about something that might be going on in my life? Heck no, I have the need to stay connected and this is a venue where I can without having to engage in a long conversation about the details of my life.

So is that it? Is it our need to be connected or is it our need to be validated? Would you volunteer or give to charity if no one else knew about it? How many anonymous good acts do you do? Do you clean the house when no one is coming over? Do you go on a cool vacation just to spend quality time with your family or do you invest in the opportunity just so you can tell others all about it?

Does it really matter? I think it does. I think that those who are happiest and most content in their lives are the ones who go that extra mile at work, help out a friend in need, go on an awesome vacation to get away and take extraordinary care of their loved ones without anyone else ever needing to know about it. My husband is one of those people so I know they exist. I strive to be one of those people too, do you? It is no easy task.

I recently read a blog post by Seth Godin called "self directed effort is the best kind" focused on this concept. He talks about the value of taking your own initiative to do things well, to go above and beyond and to excel only because you want to –  not because someone or something else is forcing you to. I love this idea but have some work of my own to achieve this level of competence. Those I know who are most fulfilled in their lives, personal and professional, exist with a zeal for life and success that is personal and not defendant upon others for approval. These people have a personal brand that is one of quality and hard work – you can just tell, you don’t have to be told.

As you embark or continue on your Indianapolis job search or your next career move, don’t clam up about your accomplishments – that is not at all what I am saying. When you fashion your resume or talk about your skills and experiences, however, make sure you own them and don’t just focus on how others made you what you are today. Take ownership of your experiences and share them in a way that makes it clear that what you do you do for your own personal growth, not just so you can drop a name or tell a story.