You Only Get Out Of Life What You Put Into It

You Only Get Out Of Life What You Put Into It

By Amanda Fox

There is the long held belief that you can only get out of something what you put into it. When I was kid, my dad used to explain this concept to me by saying If I only had $100 in the bank, they would only let me take $100 out. A few years later, I got my first credit card and realized I could get money I didn’t even have with one swipe. In a way, I was being given things I hadn’t earned that some of my other friends had to work, scrimp and save for. A couple weeks later I realized that came at cost when I got my first bill – a cost I wasn’t particularly fond of. Lesson learned. I’m not going to talk to you about financial responsibility today, but I am going to talk about getting out of life what we put into it.



Should we expect rewards just for showing up?

Times change, and as they do, so do the people that live in them. The most marked trait I have noticed as changing among the people from my grandparents generation to our young people today – as well as my own generation to be fair to a certain degree – is that we have different expectations about what life owes us. Think about that for a second – what life owes us.

I am a believer in the concept that we only get what we earn – unless you win the lottery. Where I differed from many of my peers growing up, however, is I was never a fan of the “participation” award when I played sports. I always wondered why the kid that barely showed up to practice and didn’t try very hard got the same trophy as the kid that was the best. Why did the team that finished last get the same award as the team that finished first? Why do away with All-Star teams so that no child would be sad by not making the cut? Didn’t that also punish the kids that worked hard and take away some of the motivation to try to be better?



What kind of message were we kids getting? I knew kids who got the nice trophy same as the top finisher who walked away saying “I don’t deserve this.” I also knew some that walked away on cloud nine. I called it the “Dire Straits Syndrome” – Money for nothing and chicks for free. Then there were the kids that busted their butts and had nothing more to show for it than the kid that spent most of the season complaining and throwing fits about not playing enough, not playing their favorite position and of course being bitter and angry.



The learning experience of trying should be it’s own reward

Whenever I would dare to question this, I was always told that winning wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was trying. My answer to that was usually a dare to say that to Chesty Puller’s face. Would Chesty tell his Marines that it was enough to try hard and be not only satisfied with that, but rewarded for it the same as those who did get the job done? Don’t misunderstand me -putting in honest effort is essential to life. Trying is good. Trying on it’s own, however, doesn’t mean we automatically deserve anything aside from the experience of trying itself.

Just because I never bought into that “showing up is everything” mentality didn’t mean a lot of the kids I grew up with didn’t. I began noticing that in HS when I heard grumbling among people over why they didn’t make a sports team or cheerleading squad or whatever it was. Being an admittedly mouthy kid, my answer of “because you didn’t earn it” was not met with much enthusiasm. I was admonished by faculty more than once for that type of response. I never understood why sugarcoating everything was so prevalent. Why rationalize with answers like “there are only so many spots on the team” or “maybe it’s just because you’re a sophomore and there are a lot of seniors getting a shot.”

I’d still insist it was because they weren’t trying hard enough. It was kinder than saying “you suck”. Not all of those people that didn’t make it sucked – some had incredible talent. They just never bothered putting in the time to develop it. They didn’t want it bad enough. They didn’t want to log the miles or swing the bat until their hands were thick with callouses or learn the routine until they could do it in their sleep. They felt like they were owed those spots when in reality, all they were owed was the opportunity to compete for them. Ask any pro athlete – talent will get you noticed, but it takes talent and hard work to get you to the bigs.

Again, during college, I saw tons of people that couldn’t understand why they didn’t land the jobs with the big companies doing interviews on campus. Being a mouthy young adult, I’d often give them reasons like they were paying for the belief that “C’s get degrees same as A’s” was crap. Sure, you got a degree – and you finished in the bottom quarter of your class. Just getting by wasn’t good enough. IBM, Morgan Stanley or any of the players back then didn’t owe anyone a high paying job just because they graduated. They rewarded the people that busted their butt and proved they were likely to be productive, bankable employees.



Yes – some kids do take to social media to demand what they feel they are “owed” by their parents

This is my question – why do we often believe that we are “entitled” to everything? When did we, as a society, go from a belief that all we are owed are equal opportunities succeed to feeling that we are entitled to be rewarded for everything we do whether it be of actual value or not? When did we shift from a culture that rewarded our children, for instance, with nice things for getting good grades, doing their chores and showing their parents respect to a generation where a twelve year old will get an iPhone only because their parent are terrified their kid will go on Facebook and post “My parents suck for not getting me an iPhone!! I hate you!!”We’ve all seen those posts before – at least on memes.

And that brings us full circle. You only get out of life what you put into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s school, work, relationships or parenting – you can’t dial it in and expect great things just because you showed up. You have to earn great things. You have to do actual work.

Sound off! Let us know in the comments what you think. Are we becoming a society in which we feel we are entitled to good things rather than a society that believes we have to earn the good things we want?

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  1. Thoughts for Thursday and every day….personal responsibility. If you have created a debt pay it. If you want to buy something earn it. Grandmother used to say….Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

    If you could see the folks that come to me in a week asking for money…..and stood outside and charged them each a dollar….we could go on a cruise by the end of the week. I will not starve to feed others. I will teach them how to make bread.

  2. Dianarusso says:

    Good argument, makes a lot of sense x

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