I think that if I relentlessly pursued what others rewarded me for then I would become a much more effective person. Even more people would then perceive my effect and many more would be influenced to think well of me, raising my status and improving my odds of both a) successfully producing a long-term lineage and b) influencing the behavior of both existing people and future generations.
All this applies equally well to everyone. It is the basis of all successful species and is built into all successful cultures. While we may not want fame specifically, especially if we are not ready for it, we all inherently follow our rewards, and effectiveness is the basis for our most basic reward: the chemicals from our brain and body.
It’s a feedback cycle:
- Be effective (accidentally or otherwise)
- Be informed of your effect
- Be rewarded by your brain/body in proportion to your relative effect
- Adjust as needed (accidentally or otherwise)
- Back to step 1.
Fame is an unlikely extreme; the vast majority of people never get anywhere near it despite aspiring, wanting, or fantasizing for even a taste of it, hanging on to each tiny taste of fame (each burst of effect) as a highlight of their life. At the same time, it’s rare to see someone famous just stop and retire, or a pro athlete exit at their peak, or an extremely wealthy person cash out their investments and give everything away anonymously. If it were the natural thing for such a bright light to suddenly go dark, it wouldn’t be news when it happened.
In general I see effectiveness, which can be measured to a reasonable approximation, as the basis for evolutionary reward. It’s the most fundamental selection function and it operates as a scale-free pattern.
We each innately react to a special class of outside influences in a way that produces a reward in the person who originated that effect. Put another way, we know we are effective when others react in a way that a) we can perceive and b) our brain rewards us for. If we follow the reward in a healthy way, which is to pursue the same or greater degree of reward, not the ever-lesser rewards of addiction, then we will experience a compound effect. Also known as “the rich get richer” , a power-law distribution, or innate inequality.
I don’t see that we have any choice in the matter; this pattern is built into us from the beginning, even before life began. Gravity, one of the fundamental patterns of the universe, exhibits the same basic pattern. A clump of matter is only as effective as it can get other clumps of matter to accelerate toward it. As a clump grows, it attracts larger and larger clumps from greater distance. The process never stops. And it’s a rare event for a star to go dark or a planet to disintegrate for no apparent reason.
So yes, I am saying that existence is directly proportional to effectiveness. To have no effect at all is to have never existed. To have great effect is to achieve the potential to influence the behavior of a thousand future generations, each new generation in turn rewarded the same way and for the same reasons. If effectiveness was not innately rewarded, we’d cease to exist. Same for an atom, a protein, a rock, a star, a galaxy, or the universe itself. It’s a scale-free pattern.