Return and Reward


By Tash McGill

iStock_000019200541Small “You’ll get what you give.”

“You’ll get back out what you put in.”

“You’ll reap what you sow.”

“You get what you pay for.”

There are lots of ways that we imply that action or investment should generate a return or reward. That philosophy underpins many of the daily interactions and decisions we make.

It’s not just about how much effort we invest in something, but also how much effort we invest in people and relationships. We reassess our commitment and friendships when we feel like we’re giving it more than the other person. We determine the priority of tasks in our work days based on how much it matters – or, what the consequence is (lack of return or reward) if I don’t get it done.

Mostly, society has accepted this principle at large as a pretty normal way of being. Society isn’t often wrong, right? Except, well – except in a bunch of cases.

Like charity, or in what it takes to be a hero. There’s a conflict of storyline going on between what it takes to be a hero and how society tells us to make decisions about where we invest ourselves. What it takes to be a hero, or a good human – is the willingness to invest without return or reward.

Willing to lose it all. 

Stepping into a fight, prepared to take a pounding. 

There’s a lot of stuff in life you can renegotiate, put on hold, come back to later when the investment feels a little easier. But a hero responds regardless of the ‘timing being right’.

So we skew the storyline and make it all about the good feeling you get when you do the right thing, or the even better thing. We all need to be better humans – so we sell the return and reward story again, to make it about the good, good feelings.

You’ve probably just completed the Famine with your group. You’ve got some fundraising followup to do and then you’ll be running into the next big activity or plan. The good feelings won’t last long. How could they last long enough to get you through all you’ve got left to do.

But there’s another story. Heroes are born out of habit, more often than not. So the investment you’ve made in sacrificing food or technology for 30 hours, organizing those sleepovers and fundraising – it’s building a habit. A habit of being a better human.

Habits last longer than feelings. Habits get you through when feelings of motivation fade to feelings of exhaustion.

So I pose to you: you’re getting just the right kind of return and reward for your efforts. You’re getting a habit of not needing to get what you give, just of being a better human. That’s awesome, because we really, really do need more of you.