There is a type of person who, if he renders you a service, has no hesitation in claiming the credit for it. Another, though not prepared to go so far as that, will nevertheless secretly regard you as in his debt and be fully conscious of what he has done. But there is also the man who, one might almost say, has no consciousness at all of what he has done, like the vine which produces a cluster of grapes and then, having yielded its rightful fruit, looks for no more than a horse that has run its race, a hound that has tracked his quarry, or a bee that has hived her honey. Like them, the man who has done one good action does not cry it aloud, but passes straight on to a second, as the vine passes on to the bearing of another summer’s grapes.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1969), 79.

Four lessons:

  1. Don’t toot your own horn. There is a time and a place to talk about the good you have done–but those times should always serve a greater end than gaining glory for yourself.
  2. Don’t secretly keep score. A quid pro quo mindset is not generous.
  3. Don’t crave thanks. I know we all need it–we all feel that it is too scarce. But the problem is that the need for thanks is insatiable. So, while we must be generous in thanking others, we must also train ourselves not to crave it for ourselves. For this craving will only lead to resentment and burnout. We must be content with the thanks we are given.
  4. Move on to the next good thing. This will help keep us from getting stuck craving glory and thanks for the things we’ve done in the past. You may even get to the point that you have a hard time remembering what you did “back then” as you look forward to the next good thing.