“You’ll get what you give.”

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

“You’ll reap what you sow.”

There are lots of ways that we imply that action or investment should generate a return or reward. That philosophy underpins lots of 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’s the consequence (lack of return or reward) if I don’t get it done.

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

Like charity, or when we try to describe 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. To walk up to the card table, prepared 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. Because we need more heroes and we need better humans. We all need to be better humans – so we sell the return and reward story again, to make it about the good, good feelings.

Trouble is, adrenaline works its way out of the system, endorphins drop and eventually, the good feelings will fade. How could they possibly last long enough to get you through all things we need to do when you’re an above and beyond kind of person?

But there’s another story yet to tell. Heroes are born out of habit, more often than not. So the investment you’ve made, the sacrifice you’ve given to go above and beyond when it wasn’t required – 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. Habits kick in and push you through the motions when your spirit is no longer willing.

So I pose to you; you’re getting just the right kind of return and reward for your efforts, every time you invest in something outside of yourself. 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.