Why You Should Be Proud of Your Work — In Minecraft and in Real Life
A few years ago, while playing Minecraft on a public server, I decided to take a break from mining and exploring to try something I’ve never spent much time doing: building. After spending hours gathering resources and working on my first build, a hotel, I took a step back and admired my work.
Although it pales in comparison to some of the builds made by the enormous Minecraft community, I was very happy with it, considering it was my first try.
Soon, however, fear set in. What if the server went down? What if I logged off and never saw my hard work again? This reminded me of a time in grade 5: a Rube Goldberg project. It sounds dumb, but I believe that my story has merit, and I hope you have a read.
If you’re unaware, a Rube Goldberg machine is a complex chain reaction that accomplishes a simple task (e.g. turning on a light, cracking open some pistachios). Our grade 5 teacher assigned the creation of a Rube Goldberg machine to us, and over 3 weeks, we worked in groups to create them using objects brought from home (marbles, dominos, hula hoops etc.)
There were some mechanics of my group’s machine that I was especially proud of: I had a McDonald’s Astro Boy figurine that shot a spring-loaded projectile when the button on its back was pressed, and so we figured out that knocking it onto its back could turn redirect motion in an attractive way.
The important part was the end of the project. Our teacher told us that we would present our machines to the rest of the class, and then we would dismantle them.
This caught me off guard: weeks of work would just be lost? When it came time to show off our machine, I got one of the few classmates who had a phone (this was ~2010) to record our presentation. I never followed up to ask for the recording, and in retrospect, I think that I just wanted our Rube Goldberg machine to exist past its destruction.
At the time, it surprised me that no one felt as attached to their work as I did. Looking back now, I see that the way I felt was what pushed me to work hard all throughout my education.
Sometime in high school, my dad brought home a metal paper rack, something like this:
I stored report cards, bank statements and random documents on it at first but at some point I decided that I would put work that I was proud of on the top rack. Slowly, I filled up the top rack with essays, art, and other projects that I had worked hard on.
The simple fact that I had a place to store things that I was proud of made me want to fill it up: I found myself putting in more effort, and taking creative routes to otherwise mundane projects.
This obviously isn’t a fix-all for your motivational needs. The actual hard work was a necessary part of this process. However, I really think that the ability to keep track and take pride of your work is a principle worth exploring.
Every so often, I look back at all the work that I am proud of, and seeing all the effort and creative ideas of my past self, in a way, validates my current self. It’s as if having all your achievements at the ready nearby makes impostor syndrome seem farther away. I suppose this isn’t a revelation: people hang up their degrees and achievements on walls. Why isn’t it common to have our best work on display too?
This philosophy has manifested in other parts of my life. For example, I started making creative content on my Youtube channel a while ago because I liked the idea that after uploading, a video was permanently accumulating views and increasing in value. Because of my commitment to making work I was proud of, I never uploaded anything that wasn’t thoroughly reviewed and improved on. My Youtube page is now a digital “top rack” that showcases the progress I’ve made in learning to edit, and my hard work has paid off with a couple of stand-out 50,000 view videos.
Now, the title talks about Minecraft, and I don’t want to disappoint people who came here for it. The reason this article became more important was that two days after I started writing this article, the server I was playing on got griefed, meaning that someone maliciously destroyed large portions of the server and the save had to be rolled back to a backup that was before I built my hotel. My hours of collecting materials and building the hotel were lost. I was pretty sad at first, but I realize that by including that picture at the top of the article, I‘ve been able to immortalize my work, just like I wanted to do with the Rube Goldberg machine.
To part with you, here is a summary of what I want to share:
- Take pride in your work — it’ll make your work better
- Have a place to display the work you’re proud of
- Don’t intentionally ruin other people’s hard work. Ever.