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The Endless Battle Between Good and Popular

The Endless Battle Between Good and Popular

Have you ever watched an awards show and wondered how the judges reached their decision? Specifically, is it really the most talented artists who receive accolades, or is it just about popularity? Some argue that it doesn’t matter how accomplished you are – if your work is not popular, it will never be perceived as “good.”

Let’s take the Grammys as an example. The Best New Artist, Song Of The Year, Record Of The Year, and Album Of The Year categories could theoretically be won by an artist of any musical genre. However, no classical work has ever won one of these awards.[1] Year after year, the Grammy judges seem to reward musicians who are popular, as opposed to those who are “good.”

Looking at the numbers, Taylor Swift’s “1989” won the 2016 Best Album award, whereas Adele’s “25” has been nominated for the 2017 prize. Both these albums have sold in their millions – “1989” sold five million copies by July 2015, and “25” sold over nine million copies in 2016. It would appear that there’s a clear split between “good” and “popular.”

How does this split come about?

At the beginning of an artist’s career, they use their creativity as a means of expressing their feelings. When they make music or create a painting, their aim is to work through difficult emotions and restore a state of contentment and calm. If the result isn’t to their liking, they work hard to make it as good as possible – perfection is the end goal for beginner artists. Popularity isn’t their first priority.

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    However, as someone learns their craft, they start to crave more attention, and to let others share in their work. Unfortunately, because art is subjective, their audience might not understand what they are trying to achieve, which can be disheartening. At this point, they have an epiphany – if they want to gain popularity and a wider audience, they need to tailor their art to the masses.

      The typical artist will then work around other people’s tastes. Their first priority is no longer excellence. Instead, their focus has shifted to increasing their personal popularity.

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        Good vs Popular

        People who focus on producing good work instead of popular end to strive for excellence. They do not care what other people think, and they know that it isn’t always a good idea to follow the crowd. In fact, the masses may not actually care what is best for them, and simply want them to churn out popular works. People who place “good” over “popular” are also free to be more creative.

        At the same time, people who do not care whether their work is popular runs the risk of ignoring constructive criticism. They can become too single-minded, and may also become depressed if only a small minority of the population enjoy their work.

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          On the other hand, people who cater for a wide audience create pieces of work that take into account multiple perspectives, because they are concerned with the opinions of other people. Popular works are more commercially successful, and these people can gain a lot of satisfaction when they achieve a wide audience.

          The downside is that people who try to appeal to the majority will lose their personal creativity. They might even develop a reputation as a predictable, “boring” person who produces a string of similar works. When you create things primarily for others, rather than yourself, it can become impersonal and bland.

            Those who strive to be popular turn into people-pleasers. When your identity is tied up with your reputation, it’s a constant battle to keep up with the latest fashions. People who try to live up to others’ expectations will run into problems, because the whims and tastes of the public will change over time. A popular person may succeed in changing themselves to suit the majority of their fans, but this could come at a cost of their personal development. They might shift over time, but perhaps not for the better.

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            However, people who strive to simply produce good work and be the best of themselves can also stall in their development. They may stubbornly refuse to listen to others, and might never evolve beyond the present state.

            Why not have both?

              When you aim to be either good or popular, you will run into trouble. The answer is to make great stuff, but also takes the perspective of others into account. You need to remain true to your vision, yet remain open to comments and criticism from outsiders. When you combine your vision with the needs of your audience, you have a winning combination.

              Let’s look at how this can work in practice. The Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI upholds the principle of minimalism. They take pride in producing high-quality products that come with few features. However, they also cater to a wide market by offering shoppers functionality. For example, they strive to create items that fit with their minimalist aesthetic, but they also take the average person’s needs into account, offering everyday items such as pens and notebooks that fit their philosophy.[2]

              Just because our culture tends to divide us into these two categories doesn’t mean that you can’t balance both in you. The trick is to get clear about what you are trying to achieve, and stick to your principles – yet at the same time remaining open to new influences.

              The next time you create something, work until it’s the best you can make it, be the best self you can be. Once you are satisfied, ask others for their opinion. Listen carefully, but don’t automatically assume they are right! Keep your integrity intact, and be what makes you happy. It’s great to bring joy to other people’s lives, but your self-respect is important too.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

              How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips How To Be A Successful Person (And What Makes One Unsuccessful) The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life How To Work From Home Without Getting Distracted

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              Last Updated on April 6, 2020

              What Is Self-Worth and How to Recognize Yours

              What Is Self-Worth and How to Recognize Yours

              There are a ton of articles on the internet on one’s “self” topic or another. It’s possible that you’ve read some of them before this one, and you’re wondering how this article might be any different from the rest.

              The truth is that self-love, self-esteem, self-empathy, self-regard, and all the other ‘self-’ words are indeed great and unique qualities to be instilled. Still, the most crucial concept of them all is self-worth.

              What is Self-Worth?

              Self-worth is simply defined as the level of importance you place on yourself. It is an emotional outlook that determines how and what you feel about yourself in comparison to other people.

              Self-worth is a fundamental part of our being, and it controls the way we see ourselves. Everything we think about, all the emotions we feel, and even the way we act is a product of what value we place on ourselves by ourselves.

              Self-worth is an entirely sensitive topic. So, here are a few recommended steps to recognizing your true self-worth.

                The Theory of Self-Worth

                To most people, self-worth only comes after a feat has been achieved or when in competition with another person. This is the theory: that a person’s life goal is self-recognition and that this recognition is a product of their accomplishments. This theory also holds capability, determination, performance, and self-esteem as its model elements.

                These four elements cooperate with each other to contribute to how we regard ourselves. It may be relatable, but should we really be placing so much importance on our accomplishments just to determine our self-worth? Is outdoing the next person the only way we can hold ourselves in high regard? What really determines one’s sense of value?

                Factors That Define Self-Worth

                The four elements from the theory above are not the only benchmarks used by people to determine self-worth. Many other things can inhibit how a person recognizes their self-worth. For some, it might be childhood trauma, low grades, or even bullying.

                The following are more common ways people measure their self-worth:

                1. Sphere of Contact

                Many times, people are weighed (or weigh themselves) by the number of prominent people they are close to and know.

                2. Physical and Emotional Appearance

                We find ourselves passing judgments just by regarding a person’s outward look – what they wear, how they speak, or how the society feels about them.

                3. Occupation

                This is another yardstick that people use to measure self-worth. Someone can be mean to a waiter and friendly to a doctor, for example, because they feel the latter is more successful than the former. Career choices often add positive or negative importance to one’s life.

                4. Possessions

                This is a common factor used to measure self-worth. It can be anything from the size of your paycheck to the kind and number of cars you own. It is usually material assets.

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                  What Self-Worth Is Not

                  The truth is that status or material things should never measure self-worth. There are many misconceptions about self-worth that have sadly shaped the minds of people into thinking less of themselves when they are, in fact, more.

                  Self-Worth Is Not Your Career

                  Your occupation should not determine the value you place on your life.

                  There have been cases where experienced and trained professionals have had to settle for menial jobs because they couldn’t get hired. If this doesn’t take away their qualifications, why then should self-worth be measured according to career choices? The only thing that should be a concern is how gratifying the job is.

                  Self-Worth Is Not About Your Accomplishment

                  Achievements are great, but what you do or achieve shouldn’t affect the importance you place on yourself. No label, certificate, or plaque should measure your worth for you.

                  Self-Worth Is Not Your Age

                  I don’t mean to sound cliché by telling you age is nothing but a big number, but I will tell you this: how old or how young you are does not determine how prepared you are for anything.

                  You only need to be willing and dedicated, and the world will be at your feet.

                  Self-Worth Is Not Your Love Life

                  It is tempting to try to feel good about yourself just because someone feels good about you. What if they leave?

                  Single or not, do not make a relationship the basis for your self-worth.

                  Self-Worth Is Not Your Grades

                  Are you the least smart person in your class? Know that you are just as valuable as a straight-A student because you have individual gifts and might excel at something else that an A-student will flunk terribly.

                  Self-Worth Is Not Your Health Status

                  Do you have an illness that’s lowering your spirits? It is safe to say that positive people heal more quickly, so stay optimistic.

                  Self-Worth Is Not Your Finances

                  Too much or too little money does not define a person. As long as you are satisfied and have enough to survive, then there’s nothing to worry about.

                  Self-Worth Is Not About Your Preference

                  Do people think you’re old-school or too sophisticated for this generation? Their opinion doesn’t matter as long as you’re okay with who you are.

                  Self-worth is only about you!

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                    What Self-Worth Really Is

                    It can be somewhat overwhelming to see yourself for who “you surely are” without the assets or dream job or friends. For some people, it can be agonizing, and they would do anything but come to this stage of awareness. There also exists a high possibility for one to become afraid of becoming self-aware.

                    It is natural for humans to be elusive of this sort of fear or pain. This process is necessary for the discovery of self-worth and should never be avoided. Beyond every seemingly painful emotion is an eternity of freedom, and the first step on this journey is self-awareness. This is the key to finding self-worth.

                    Everyone has a mental picture of who they want to be. Sometimes this person is not who he or she is. It’s okay to have ambitions and life goals, but never let your dreams make you deny yourself. Self-denial is an enemy to self-worth. This is why it is painful to become self-aware. Most people will never want to let go of who they think they are and embrace their true selves for who they indeed are.

                    Self-worth is not a bad thing. It only makes you accept your weaknesses while you learn to focus on your strengths. Some of this strength lies undiscovered, and until we become self-aware, we will be unable to bring them to light.

                    On self-worth, you can either be your own best friend or your worst enemy. If you keep evading self-awareness, you will only keep delaying your freedom and healing. Self-worth truly comes when you fully understand who you are and what strong potential you possess.

                    The Importance of Self-Worth

                    The best part about recognizing self-worth is seeing the practical impact it has on your behavior. Self-worth affects the things you do and the choices you make consciously. You start rejecting anything that has a negative effect on your outlook on life, and you become more open to things crafted to make you a better person.

                    Self-worth is what keeps you satisfied even if all your achievements, assets, and possessions are taken away from you. The moment you reach healthy levels of self-worth, life becomes much more meaningful.

                      How To Recognize Your Self-Worth

                      So, you’ve finally become self-aware, but you don’t feel good about yourself. Nothing excites you about you. You think you’re just an average person, coursing through life with nothing special to offer.

                      You start to feel like you need validation from determining your self-worth. You want to achieve a task or even take a quiz to measure your self-worth. What you should know is that self-worth first comes from within.

                      To reiterate the opening paragraph of this article, it is the level of importance you place on yourself; by yourself! By merely existing, you are sufficient.

                      Finding Strength

                      Strength in self-worth comes from finding qualities you excel at. These qualities will be a constant reminder whenever you start feeling like you are not worthy enough.

                      Little things like a list of your talents, things you like about yourself that make you stand out, challenges you’ve won at, how you’ve helped other people, and other great reflections are examples of questions you should have answers to. Your strength lies in those questions.

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                      The Dangers of Linking Self-Worth to Things and People

                      You make unhealthy decisions when you keep looking for validation in things and people. You never get to see yourself for the potential-filled and robust person you are.

                      Looking for external validation will only frustrate you. You set yourself up for a chain of disappointments. Place your worth on your insides. It is the key to leading a healthy life.

                      How To Start Increasing Your Self-Worth

                      Now that you’ve seen the vacuums that continuously drain your self-worth, it’s time to learn ways to increase, strengthen, and sustain it. You can start by highlighting the things you previously found your worth in and substitute them for more productive activities.

                      Here are some examples.

                      For the One Who Found Self-Worth in Excelling at School or at Work:

                      Take some time off from all the excessive reading. Engage in an activity that you really like. Learn a new skill, like how to play an instrument or how to dance salsa. Read an unusual book.

                      For the One Who Sought Validation from Social Media:

                      Go offline for some time. Attend hangouts with physical people. Take long and reflective walks. Be intentional about your words and actions. Show your relations and friends that you care for them. Show up physically for people. Be there for them.

                      On your journey to recognize self-worth, never compare yourself to anyone. By comparison, you rob yourself of self-awareness and block your chances of seeing your strong potential. Comparison only measures your worth by other people’s standards. How about creating some rules on your own?

                      With time, it becomes easier to free oneself from the weight that comes with no self-worth. It is easy to do things you believe in than otherwise. Never doubt the process. Reassure yourself that your journey to self-worth will be the most rewarding experience of your life.

                      Let’s take a look at some practical ways to boost self-worth:

                      1. Do a Talent or Skill Inventory

                      Everyone has something good to offer. Humans possess and can learn mind-blowing abilities.

                      What can you offer? Take stock of your skills and gifts.

                      What are those cool things you do effortlessly? When you identify your abilities, you suppress your weaknesses and give voice to your strength.

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                      2. Pardon Yourself

                      You have to forgive yourself for all your shortcomings. Learn from all your past mistakes. If you keep feeling guilty or ashamed, you will never have a healthy sense of self-worth.

                      3. Take Risks

                      The only reason you haven’t done something great for yourself is that you are still wondering whether or not you should do it. Never be afraid to take risks to become a better version of yourself. Stop doubting your abilities and go.

                      If you don’t succeed on your initial try, you would only have learned how not to fail next time. Get up and do great things.

                      Try these 6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances.

                      4. Self-Love

                      Accept yourself for who you are. If you have negative qualities, work on becoming a better person. Never make the mistake of living in denial. You would only be delaying your freedom.

                      Here’re 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

                      5. Surround Yourself with Healthy People

                      Healthy attracts healthy. Healthy habits can rub off as much as negative ones do.

                      Surround yourself with the change you want to see. Be with people who have overcome the doubts they had about themselves and, like you, are also on a journey to recognizing self-worth.

                      Take a look at this article and learn How to Surround Yourself With Positive People.

                      It is crucial for everyone to lead healthy lives physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, and otherwise, by evaluating our self-worth. We have to consciously take steps to build and develop our sense of regard for each other and, more importantly, for ourselves. Healthy self-worth is a source of deep and lasting satisfaction in life.

                      Final Thoughts

                      It is worthy to note that you will begin to lose friends on your journey to recognize your self-worth.

                      People with low self-worth find solace in each other’s company and so your new-found confidence might become threatening. It’s okay. Ensure your growth process inspires them, but do not hesitate to keep a distance from anyone who does not support your growth.

                      More Tips to Improve Your Self-Worth

                      Featured photo credit: Erik Lucatero via unsplash.com

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