The warning was stark and direct; when you do something, never do it because you think you will be rewarded. Do it because it is right. The action in and of itself is your reward.
There are days that I forget to keep this warning close to my heart. I like being rewarded, especially when I try to do the impossible and it works. I hope to be recognized, for the best of what I do and the intent that is present in the rest. In corporate warfare, along with life, results and intent are not enough.
It is easy to let the situation get to you. If feels unfair. It seems unjust. I listen to the views of others on my team and I see my thoughts on display in their words and emotions. I find myself reminding them of the reasons we pursue our vision. Reward and recognition are not the key drivers.
I am not the first to confront this demon. Others before me have faced everything I have and more. In one situation, an old man turned and made a blunt assessment; “So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.” (1 John 3.13) It was true then. It is true now.
The challenge comes in the dark night of our souls when we are deeply tired. The battle seems too great. The obstacles are more than we can handle. In those moments, I remember the eyes of a boy living without his mother. They twinkled and inviting me into his journey. They smiled with the appreciation of being noticed and hugged. They lived in the moment that had been given.
I think of recent tragedies when the lives of young men were cut short. We have lost something with their absence. The memory of their smiles reminds me that life is never about the reward to come. Life is about living in the moment that we have. In the now, we hold the freedom to choose, to act. It is living’s heart.