Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is your work? If you think it’s the place you go every day, you’re being too literal. Your “work,” in this case, is that which you pursue with passion. It’s using your talent, whatever that may be. If you use your talent, I will know you – the real you, not the cookie-cutter corporate you or the idealized, sanitized you.
Truly using your talent – “[d]o[ing] your work” – can be frightening. Despite all our cultural talk about the importance of being an individual, we are a nation with a few originals and millions of copies. If you are a copy, you aren’t reinforcing yourself – you are reinforcing the original.
When you stop imitating and start using your talent as you were always intended to, you step away from the crowd and become something original. It can be frightening. Some copies will try to stop you by telling you not to make a fool of yourself. Others will mock you. Most of them will pretend that you haven’t changed at all, even when the evidence is laid before them. However, the originals will recognize, befriend, and encourage you.
And so, here is the challenge Emerson has laid before each of us:
Use your talents, become an original, and discover your true value.