Richard Feynman’s Thoughts on Honours

Recently I’ve been watching and re-watching Richard Feynman’s talks edited by Reid Gower on YouTube. It’s a masterful series of dialogues that takes you into the inner workings of one of the brightest minds of our time. The video series is in four parts, each with their own topic. Today, I’ll be talking about the second installment, “Honours.”

What I learned about the real genius of Richard Feynman is his ability to pursue things in his life driven only by his own curiosity and desire for fulfillment in its purest form, that is, with complete disregard and even disgust for honors, accolades, “approval” from others.

The pursuit of an objective WITHOUT some sort of subconscious desire to satisfy our human pride is so rare and hard to accomplish, but I think it’s important that we try because it is so essential to long term success. We can apply this to dance — real and original works of art are created when we, as the hip hop community says, “dance to express, not impress.” We see this in all instances where we see a person achieve amazing things not because they desired greatness, but because they simply loved their craft. Think Steve Jobs, The Beatles, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Jordan, Keone & Mari, entrepreneurs…the list of these lovers goes on.

tl;dr – I think the biggest obstacle in my life is overcoming my craving for pride. Much of my mindset has been wired to be in pursuit of extrinsic rewards, not so much pursuit of genuine interest. Feynman has helped me grasp that the more practical approach, and the ultimately more rewarding approach, is to find worth and happiness in myself in and in my work, and to resist using actions as a means to extrinsic “victories”, blue ribbons, gold medals, and dollar signs. Pride is a very scary beast that easily creeps into our hearts and can take control of the “what we do” and “why we do” in our lives. Conquering pride is the definition of true freedom and pure intentions.


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