The need for the reward

A reward can be a strong motivational driver

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. – Henry Ford

My Master Thesis in Management is about a new Software Development methodology designed to achieve the ambitious goal of doing more than delivering projects on-time and on-budget. We also strive to improve the competitiveness of the team, unleashing innovation and constantly becoming better at our craft!

To accomplish such ambitious goals we need to have a motivated team. So how do we can motivate them to become more?

The need for recognition or reward…

… from people

When you do something for the recognition or reward of other people you’re allowing yourself to become vulnerable…

Let’s say you’re a coach and your noble mission is to unleash people’s full potential and inspire them to change the World. Or you’re an employee trying to make your workplace a better place to be. Or you’re a team leader trying to build a great team.

How would you feel when the people that are hearing and seeing your way of living and working aren’t responding  the way you believe they should? Let’s go even further and say that they even betrayed your trust!

How would you feel?

Disappointed? Unappreciated? Even angry?

I’ve felt that way myself. But how dare we?! How do we dare to believe that people should behave in a way WE feel it’s the best because they’ve heard or saw our example? Doesn’t those feelings show that we were expecting a different outcome?

Notice that there’s a difference between expecting and hoping. Here’s the definition of both words:

  • Expect: to look for with reason or justification;
  • Hope: (Archaic ) to place trust;

When we expect we’re looking for a logical reason for something to happen. That’s why he get so many negative feelings when that desired outcome doesn’t happen! That’s why some people get so angry with God or the Universe when something bad happens…

“I certainly don’t deserve this. Not after all the good I did!”

I’ll let House illustrate that point even better:

Foreman: You can’t blame yourself for her death. This wasn’t your fault!
House: THAT’S THE POINT!! I did everything right, she died anyway! Why the hell do you think that would make me feel any better?!

See the point? The reason House became so upset is because he was expecting that his actions produced a different outcome. Every time we feel that way it’s time for a EGO check: believing that we have complete control over how things happen in Life is delusional and a sure sign of a EGO out-of-control.

Now, I don’t want you to believe in destiny. I certainly believe that our actions affect how the future is played. I just don’t believe that I have complete control over it. All we can do is to improve our chances!

I also believe in the concept of perfect practice: improving our performance based on instant, constant and unfiltered feedback. So while I don’t expect a certain outcome I do hope for it.

The difference is subtle but powerful:

  • when you’re expecting something to happen, you’re EGO is in charge and your feeling of self-worth and happiness with be attached to the outcome. And we all know what happens when our EGO is in charge… that’s the fastest way to become a self-serving leader. We already have plenty of those!
  • when you’re hoping something to happen, you’re EGO is in check and you’re feeling of self-worth and happiness isn’t attached to what happens. You didn’t quit! After you’ve done everything you could, the best you could at the level of wisdom and awareness at the time, you let yourself go of the equation.

Bob Burg talked about this in a wonderful post, that you need to read, called “Emotional Posture“:

…you’d prefer your desired result to take place and — if it does — that’s terrific! However, your personal happiness, joy and peace of mind is in no way dependent upon it. – Bob Burg (April 2012)

b) … from GOD

And who knew more about God’s rewards than His son: Jesus?

Ken Blanchard said it best when he shared his view about the reason why Jesus did what he did:

I think the reason why Jesus came to Earth was to give us a heart attack. He wanted to share his LOVE with us!

So what was Jesus leadership point of view about rewards?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”- Mat 6:2

The important question that Jesus raises here is this: who are you trying to please? Who are you placing first in your Life?

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” – Mat 6:3

The picture that Jesus is showing us is just how far we must go to keep our EGO in control. Even a noble act like giving to the needy can be corrupted if we “let our left hand know what our right hand is doing”. Is the same thing when we do something because we expect a reward from that action.

For Jesus, who is the only audience that we must please?

“So that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Mat 6:4

What a wonderful way to live. Not seeking the rewards of men who can easily fall prey of their self-serving EGOs and be unfair, lie to us or just don’t care about what we do until we do something wrong. They’re just like blind men.

“A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? – Luke 6:39”

But if we seek the reward of our heavenly Father who is righteous, perfect and that unconditionally loves us, not only we will making Him smile in Heaven but also make a better World on Earth!

More than soft skills

Research shows that this talk about rewarding people is more than soft skills!

People whose goals involved personal growth and the community were much happier than people who sought money or fame. This sounds a lot like the hedonic/ eudaimonic divide. “By attaining the ‘American Dream goals,’ [big house, fancy car, designer clothes]” said the study’s author Edward Deci, “you are actually feeling less satisfied in the need for autonomy and feeling effective in the world [because you are dependent on external measures outside your direct control], and that leads to more ill−being.” – What We Know Now About How to Be Happy (

Zig Ziglar, a man that dedicated his Life to help people become more and keep them motivated on their journey to the top, talked about how we should look at rewards:

How this concept changed my Life?

12 years ago, just when I stopped trying and expecting to find the Love of my Life, I found it. Or did she found me?

I don’t know. But here’s what I do know: I wouldn’t be writing these words to you and be who I am today without her! She really makes me become a better person and I’m SO grateful for having the privilege to share my Life with my beautiful wife: Carla Coelho!

Back to you. It’s in your hands heart!

Let’s be honest: the only reason we feel that we need recognition from what we’ve done is because of our EGOs.

I don’t want to sound like I’m perfect or a guru that is has never fallen for this trap. I did. However, I do practice every day to be as aware as possible of my thoughts and my actions, so I can control my EGO.

What I believe that we should practice is to keep striving for excellence and not for the recognition or reward from anyone. The reward is in the practice itself. The reward is becoming better versions of ourselves and, thus, making the World a better place by the positive influence that we can make.

Don’t do things for the reward of people nor for the reward of God. Do it because that’s who you are! The reward is what you become.

Master this and you’ll master Life!

What about you?

Share your voice! What are you’re beliefs about rewarding people? Are you driven by the reward or by the journey?

P.S: 14-06-2012