What You Think You Deserve vs. What You Have Earned. A Tale about Hard Work

My personal experience has taught me that if I haven’t received from life what I think I deserve, it is most likely because I need to do a better job at earning it.

I was resting before my next fight during my latest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament when a mother of one of the kids, who was competing in the children’s competition,  approached me, looking quite desperate, looking for feedback she told me that she needed my help.  Her son had just lost his first fight against a more skillful kid and she insisted on showing me the video of her son’s fight to see if I could give her tips on how to improve his technique.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a sport that does not believe in talent. One improves by training constantly. There is no secret formula for overnight improvement, just like life.  I looked at her and noticed that she was very concerned and recommended that she should have a talk with her son’s coach to understand the process and let him take care of his progress.  She replied, “I want to help him but I do not know how”.  I am also a father and completely understood her position.  We do not want our kids to go through unnecessary hardship.

The Path of Growth

I have not known a single person who decides to endure hard work just for the fun of it.  There must be a greater motivation that will drive us into hard work. In other words, we will not purposely do something, (What) unless we know what the reason behind it is. (Why).  This should be the general rule we use to prioritize our efforts if we are thinking about improvement, right?  But, think about it… How many rules do we follow in life on a constant basis and we have no idea why we do it?

I remember when growing up, we spent a lot of time at our grandparent’s house and there were so many rules to follow; no speaking at the dinner table, always drink all of your boiling hot cup of tea after breakfast, when seated never put your hands on the back of your head.  After a couple of years, I was old enough to question my grandmother about all these rules and she just answered, “That is the way I was raised by my mother”

We continuously mistake hard work with the number of tasks we do every day, regardless of whether or not we even understand why we do it, instead of measuring hard work with the impact our actions have on others.  We grow by adding value to the life of ones around us.  When we start questioning ourselves or our organization about what we deserve to receive, it is always healthy to run an assessment of how much value we add to the life of those around us.  Do not get me wrong, hard work still needs to be hard, but is it meaningful to others?

Feedback is the compass that guides us

Once I heard a story about a man whose wife was divorcing him and he couldn’t understand why.  He went to a friend and asked him how could this be happening to him when he had been a good husband and father.  His friend replied with a question:  Have you ever taken the time to verify this statement with your wife and kids?  He did not have an answer for that.  How many people do you know who walk around saying how good of a worker they are, how good a husband/wife they are or father/mother and so on.  Have you ever had a friend ask you “am I doing a good job as a friend?”  and if you have, consider yourself lucky.  The reason for this is that nobody wants to fail at what they do and if they do fail, they do not want to hear it.


Maybe we should all run an experiment. For 2 weeks we should ask one person around us on a daily basis if we are doing a good job adding value to their life.  We should include friends, partners, kids, co-workers, employers and parents.  The findings from this experiment can be quite revealing.  By then, you could have a more realistic view of what you deserve.  My personal experience has taught me that if I haven’t received from life what I think I deserve, it is most likely because I need to do a better job at earning it.  Do not expect to withdraw from life what you have not deposited – just like a bank account.

Why not?

I have been involved in sports for most of my life and had the pleasure to train with many top athletes.  From this experience, I can conclude that there is a common denominator in all of them:  The hunger for more.  There are the ones who are the first to show up for practice and the last to leave, the ones who run in the rain, the ones who will never say no to a final round even when they can barely walk.  I can recall that in one race a teammate was winning by a very comfortable advantage.  The person coming in second place wasn’t even in sight. He then decided to give his greatest effort with only one kilometer to go, to shoot for his personal best.  He finished in bad shape and almost passed out.  When we approached him to help, one of the teammates asked “why did you do it?” and he replied, “why not?”

How many times have you gone above and beyond your job description and given your best effort to help others just because you can and someone has come and asked you “Why do you do it?” and you replied, “why not?”.  If you have experienced this and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with it, keep going that way and I promise you, you will never have the feeling of deserving something you don’t have.  Cheers!


Author: Ricardo Mock

Africa 24/7 Marine Manager at Maersk Line, Cape Town. Psychologist, Certified Crossfit Trainer, Health Coach and Motivator. Experience working in Project Management (Operations, Human Resources and Sales), innovation driving change. Specialties: Project Management, Sales, General Operations, Lean Six Sigma (LSS GB Certified), ERP´s implementation and Change Management. MBTI Profile: ENFP-T

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.