I hear that from people who feel or who, in fact, have gone above and beyond their normal social and economic responsibilities. The investment of their resources or their time or their abilities has, for them, gone unrewarded – in the simplest of ways: acknowledgement and appreciation. The disappointment is not theirs alone. One’s heart is in their disappointment. Most everyone shares in it. The focus of the conversation is on them. They have become the victim of their own generosity. Their plan of engagement has exploded against them.
For example, a woman expended considerable effort at her place of employment above and beyond her normal duties. The clients of her employer were more adequately served. When all was said and done, a co-worker was praised lavishly for it, and given a promotion. As she recounted it, not once was her effort acknowledged, or, appreciated. She promised herself never to ever allot that kind of effort again. Because that is the thanks you get.
I have thought about this many times. I have drawn from her experience several epithets to guid my own life. Their generosity was motivated by the thanks they expected to receive. Not receiving it, they become disappointed in the results, and, they promise themselves never to do this kind of service again. They will adhere to the responsibilities they know are theirs to perform, where they will not and do not expect to be lavished with acknowledgment and appreciation.
I, too, found myself in similar situations. Then I thought I,too, should no longer go beyond my responsibilities. But, I was not satisfied with what I foresaw: a world of automatons going about their lives doing solely what was described at their duties, responsibilities, or tasks. Such a world would be devoid of patience, understanding, appreciation, and satisfaction. It occurred to me that my first mistake was to do something with the expectation of acknowledgement and appreciation. I thought, if the thing was worth doing, that was reason enough for doing it. No thanks required. The world would be a better place, and, I would have my dividends in the doing of it. The return on investment is immediate, and, depends less on the involvement of a third party, whose ability to see, and, acknowledge and appreciate the author for his effort is an unknown quality..
As well, the thought entered my mind, that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly, rather than not at all. Not that one should not do the thing to the best of one’s ability, but where that best is not the very best that anyone could possibly do, and, no one else would perform the task, the world becomes a far better place for all of us.
With this focus you will be amply satisfied with the thanks you get.