One of the biggest reasons for workplace unhappiness is a feeling that employees are not getting recognized for the work they do. Appreciation is such an important factor in us staying motivated.
As I slowly make my way through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Albert Einstein, I’ve come to realize that what has blown me away about Albert Einstein is not what I expected. I expected to be in awe of his combination of creativity and intelligence. And, while his ability to channel his creativity and impudence into Physics is a fascinating lesson, I have been in awe of his ability to soldier on despite no recognition for the longest time. I wrote about him not getting a job (only made possible by a friend whose father had sway over the Swiss patent office) for about 2 years after getting his P.hD a few weeks back. It turns out that was only the warm up act.
Thanks to Biography.com for the image
In 1905, Einstein wrote 4 papers that provided the foundation for modern physics – on Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect and special relativity. But, even as of 1907, Einstein hadn’t landed an academic job. Frustrated, he applied for a position as a school teacher to teach Math. He also offered to teach Physics in his application. But, he was told he didn’t even make the short list. He was then refused admittance for a research assistant position despite submitting his 4 papers which were gaining fame thanks to the endorsement of Max Planck, then the greatest theoretical physicist on the planet.
He finally did land a job in 1908 and was finally granted Professorship in 1912 – a full 7 years after his “annus mirabilis” or extraordinary year.
It is such a wonderful lesson for all those of us who complain about not being recognized for our work. Yes, there always are those who seem to get instant recognition. But, if it is merit-based recognition we seek, it is worth remembering Albert Einstein’s journey to remind ourselves to chase merit, not recognition.
In the long run, good results follow good processes.