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Being recognized as a leader in thought, innovation, or creativity is frequently a greater individual motivator than simple monetary reward.

Our nature as social animals places 'recognition from peers' at least equal in importance to 'simple monetary compensation'. Many popular arguments assume that the reason freedom to create overrides monetary compensation as a powerful motivator is that we value freedom or creativity over money. This is often true, but peeling the onion back further, I would contend that the deeper reason for these priorities are simpler but not as socially laudable as first assumed. Such recognition is often more individually valuable than money. Social status can often open more doors than money thereby offering even more individual opportunities. At the deepest levels, it is total freedom and maximum number of choices that has been selected by evolution. This talk and many like it ignore the individual profit realized by being recognized and elevated up the social ladder versus simple fiscal profit.


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    Feb 8 2013: so? what follows from that?
    • Feb 8 2013: Recognizing the real underlying motivators, rather than just the culturally laudable and loudly advertised reasons, helps find real answers to questions. To use this talk as an example, the question was effectively what really motivates people? My perspective on the discussion is that the 'surprise' answer was that money, and by implication personal profit, was not as strong a motivator as freedom to express one's self. I'm saying that that freedom really masks another form of personal profit.
      The distinction is subtle, but very important. Frequently, people are elevated for selfless acts that were in fact performed partly or primarily for the anticipated social elevation rather than the apparent altruism. I'm not so cynical to suggest that real altruism does not exist; it certainly does! I'm only suggesting that we should be discerning enough to know, or at least suspect the difference. By doing so, puzzling questions like the subject of this TEDtalk become less enigmatic, and so lead to simpler and more efficient and effective answers to the questions posed.

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