Rewards and Contributions
Estimated Lesson Time: 3 minutes
When taking my daughter to the mall some years ago, we came across a vending machine filled with little candies. She ran up to the machine, lifted up the metal flap to the dispenser, and poked her little fingers all around searching for the candy. I had to explain to her that she needed first to put in a quarter, then turn the knob, then get the candy from the dispenser. It took my then two-year-old daughter a couple of trips to the mall to catch on completely, yet so many people spend their entire lives shaking the vending machine without putting in the quarter and turning the knob. Certain deterministic factors aside, our rewards in life are directly related to the amount we contribute, and those who seek something for nothing will generally get the equivalent of what they are willing to contribute—nothing.
In our vending machine analogy, think of the quarter and turning the knob as the contribution. Our contributions in life begin with some type of investment. The most common form of this investment is investment in ourselves, as in college, adult education classes, independent study, and/or personal development of any kind. Then, contribution needs action. A parent or teacher invests his time in the education or character development of a youth, whereas a salesperson may invest her time in making sales calls. Teaching and selling is also taking action while investing. Finally, after the quarter has been put in, and the knob has been turned, we get the candy. Then, and only then, will life’s rewards ultimately follow.
Not all rewards are financial. Do not be discouraged if your contributions produce little or no financial reward. The chances are, your contributions are being rewarded by earning the respect and admiration of others, fame or recognition, the feeling of accomplishment, fulfillment, inner peace, or some other non-monetary reward.
Those who are willing to contribute nothing usually fall for anything. The world is full of these people with a strong desire for instant gratification. These are the people with the “get rich quick” mentality who desire all the rewards of life but are not willing to exchange patience, risk, or effort. This is the group that many deceptive advertisers and marketers secretly refer to as “suckers.” It is difficult to browse the Internet and not see an obnoxious flashing ad that says, “You are an instant winner! Click here to claim your prize!” These ads are so common because they work; people actually do click on them, give up their personal information, and buy $100 worth of junk they do not need in order to get their “free” coffee mug.
If you want to get something out of life, you have to put something in. Be not only willing, but be enthusiastic to make a contribution to this world. Every one of us has something special to offer whether it be the ability to educate, motivate, create, protect, lead, solve problems, comfort, or entertain. Focus on your contributions, not your rewards, and the rewards will follow.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)