“When you’ve done well and another has benefited by it, why like a fool do you look for a third thing on top — credit for the good deed or a favor in return?”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 7.73
As a stoic, when you do the right thing, you do it just because. Because it’s your duty, and because it’s the good and right thing to do. Because you can’t do otherwise.
You don’t do it for the recognition, or for accolades or awards. You don’t do it because you’re attaching some strings and hoping for a favor in return. You do the right thing because… well, it’s the right thing! No matter if someone else benefits from it, you’re not looking for any special credit or return.
And when you see someone else acting selflessly in this way, doing the right thing from their own sense of duty, and perhaps at great personal cost — how do you feel about this person? You hold that person up as an ideal, someone to be admired even though they weren’t seeking admiration, and someone to be emulated (although they might disagree out of humility).
Now think of someone who does do it for the credit. They do the right thing because they’re expecting a big payback, or some sort of personal benefit. Maybe they’re crowing about what they’ve done, sort of humble-bragging and conveniently leaving a pause for you to sing their praises. How do you feel about them, what’s your reaction?
And which one do you want to be?