Every day each of us looks for rewards. We hope to get rewarded for a job well done, a big sale, a hug from a spouse or child, but we often feel that we don’t get the rewards we think we deserve. Our paychecks seem to get smaller while our children get bigger; we need our paychecks more and our children need us less.


Rewards are difficult to quantify and often what we do today may not pay off until next week, next month or next year; or it may not pay off at all. How do we even measure it? Is it the money we are paid, the love we receive, the car we drive or the house or neighborhood we live in?


I have always known that the more I look for them the less I receive. If I am working towards getting some type of recognition or ‘fame’ what I get is disappointment and failure. It’s like praying for patience; your higher power is likely to give you something to be patient about!


When I let go and I let life happen, it does. When I did the Free Business Portraits for the Unemployed I expected nothing in return. I wanted to give back to those less fortunate than I am and I know how it feels to be suddenly out of a job, the emotional toll it takes. I felt that if I could do something nice and help people smile when life was difficult then I would feel good about what I was doing and I did.  Even the local media got involved and my name was all over the world for a lot longer than just 15 minutes.


So many people told me that this was the best thing I could do for publicity for my business. You know how much work I got as a result of that? Zip, zero, nada. But that was OK because that isn’t why I was doing it. When I looked for a reward I got none, when I was doing it just to help I got famous.


Many times we don’t know what we get when we put out the positives and good efforts. Sure we might get a raise next year and sure our children may care for us when we get old, but do we know that is going to happen? Sometimes we don’t even know we are doing the next right thing.


I think it was 10 or 11 years ago and I was still in the corporate world; I was working for a software firm in Philadelphia and I was in charge of the support department. I forget why but I needed another tech and in those days techs weren’t as easy to find as they are today (amazing what changes in just 10 years), especially ones that understood large format image printing.


I noticed this one man working in our shipping department and while I was helping pack up a large shipment I asked him some basic questions about computers. He had no formal computer training and had never held a support position before but he knew instinctively how to logically troubleshoot and come to a solution.  A true “diamond in the rough”; but there was a problem.


This young man had a run in with the law. He had been arrested and was awaiting trial and he was pleading guilty. He would most likely get probation but that conviction would make him ineligible  for the position per company policy. Something told me that his past didn’t matter. What had gotten him to this point in his life was just a path and it was what made him the man he was, but it didn’t define the type of man I was looking at. I took a risk and I fought to get him on my team and I won. I won with conditions of course; if he failed, I was out of a job too.

I took a risk and it paid off in a great way. He eventually became the supervisor of that support team and he made IT his career. He was a true success story and I was glad to know him. I never thought anything of it really though, I knew he was going to do well and I knew he had the knack to be good at it. When he was successful I felt it was as it was supposed to be, that was all there was to it.


This past weekend I found out there was more to the story. You see that man invited me to his wedding and again, we have stayed in touch over the years so no big deal. I hadn’t met his wife to be yet but I had heard a lot about her. At the reception he introduced me to her and what he said floored me. He said, “This is the man that believed in me and put me on the right path.” His new wife knew immediately who I was. I was blown away.


I didn’t expect that. I wasn’t prepared in any way to be a part of the turning point for him, I was just doing what I always try to do: the next right thing. He made something of the opportunity; he did what he needed to do and he made the life for himself that he has today. I am humbled by the words he used to introduce me to the love of his life.


I didn’t do anything, he did it all. Then he gave me the rewards.