Why Jimi Hendrix Never Liked Compliments

Don’t get fat and satisfied

I don’t really live on compliments. As a matter of fact, they have a way of distracting me. I know a whole lot of musicians, artists out there who hear the compliments and think “wow, I must have been really great” and so they get fat and satisfied and they get lost and forget about their actual talent and start living in another world.

I’m not one to argue with Jimi Hendrix.

But yeah, we all love compliments. Receiving them may not be easy for everyone, but we sure do like it whenever we get a pat on the back.

I’m guilty of it too. Compliments make me feel good about myself and the work I have put in. It’s really nice to be complimented for things that have sprung from your brain and you’ve worked your ass off for to get right.

But, truth be told, the best work and greatest improvements I’ve made when nobody seemed to care. When I was still dedicated to be so good, no one could not give me compliments. When I still had a point to prove.

Acknowledging the compliment while keeping it moving

Okay, let’s be honest, my life is not filled with compliments and admirations like the lives of superstars are. I’m hardly Jimi Hendrix or some other hardworking genius. Still, I have had the pleasure of being complimented on my writing, guitar playing or even my soccer skills (long time ago!) every now and then.

The secret for me has always been to write and play for myself. For my own satisfaction and to reach the potential I have assigned myself. Not some potential or belief someone else has projected onto me. When you really dedicate yourself to something, you automatically know how much time and energy you put in. But more importantly, you als know how much time and energy you didn’t put in. If you’re being truly honest with yourself, you understand exactly how much potential you’ve left untapped.

People giving the compliments do not necessarily know what you’re capable of. When people applaud an article I wrote that I hardly gave my best shot, there’s a real chance that this compliment satisfies me and makes me complacent. Especially if someone is singing my praises hard (hardly ever happens, though…). And that’s bad news for anyone who’s going to read my future writings. The best thing to do is to just acknowledge someone said something nice, and then keep it moving.

As I proposed in ‘Archiving It Up‘, it’s important to catalog your work and achievements. Don’t collect the praises, just the work. This collection of your very own work and achievements in combination with a honest look at yourself perfectly shows where you actually stand. Maybe it’ll give you a satisfied feeling, but I think it won’t. Not if you take a minute to really think about it. If anything, it should make you hungry to work on the weak corners of your body of work and expand on the strong ones. Compliments should have vanished from your mindset by then.

And back again you’re into your own little corner where the world still hasn’t seen your true potential. Your still trying to prove how good you are. To the world, but more importantly, to yourself. And maybe, just maybe, when you’re all old like 80, you can start living in that ‘other world’, and become fat and satisfied. When you’ve actually deserved it.


Side note: Whenever someone compliments you it’s important to thank the person for singing that praise. It’s truly humbling for someone to actually go through the length of complimenting you for something. And of course, I’m talking about meant and uncalled for compliments here. A forced compliment that’s part of a social contract is often just politeness. Still, always be thankful, because it can be hard to distinguish between the two types. So thanks if you like this post.

Title photo credit: flickr