The Corruptible Effect of Praise

This is a quote from Albert Einstein:

“The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working.”


That’s pretty powerful.  When I first read the quote I thought to myself, Albert believes praising someone for their work is a bad thing.  He was a really smart dude, so I tend to read his quotes with a sense of he probably knew more than I do, there must be some truth.

Praising someone for their work is bad.  It just doesn’t seem right, does it!?  Could Albert have been wrong?

I didn’t write this post as soon as I read the quote, I gave myself a day or so to let it sink in.  The longer I was able to digest it, I think Albert was saying something different.  I now believe he was speaking to our ego, not to the praise.

Praise itself is not corruptible.  The effect is has on the participant is corruptible. If you allow yourself to buy-in and believe your praise, you tend to stop doing what got you the praise to begin with.

How do you combat this corruption.  Go on working.

I love to the phrase, “Dance with the one that brung ya.” I use it often.  To me it means, you have to keep doing what you did to get you to where you are, assuming you want more of what you got.  If you don’t, stop doing what you’re doing and do something else.   If I’m doing well, I’m going to keep dancing with the one that got me to the dance in the first place, I’m not changing to another more sexy dance partner.  That’s corruption.

We like to blame praise.  Tell someone they’re great enough times and they will begin to believe they’re great.  If they believe they’re great, they’ll stop working to be great. Praise must be to blame.  But it’s not praise that is to blame, it’s ego.

Now get your ass back to work, you’re not as good as your praise has you believe you are.


2 thoughts on “The Corruptible Effect of Praise

  1. I’ve found that effect when I was young and studied at musical school. Once I’ve been praised about my success, all the music was gone. That’s fabolous to find (20 years over) out that Einstein was aware of the problem.

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