Think back to the last time you did something for someone else simply because it was the right thing to do. Things that you were able to leverage into a career or monetary gain for yourself don’t count. I mean something that helped someone else, that you didn’t tell anyone about in anyway afterward.
If you’re having a hard time thinking about an example, it’s probably because either
- You’re a sage who has completed so many random acts of kindness that you can’t pick a single one;
- You have never done such a thing.
If you’re in the second camp, you’re not alone. We all do things for the reward. We win a tournament, we get a trophy. We do extra work, we get a promotion. We finish the “Boss Hog Challenge” at Marco’s Seafood and Pork Restaurant, we get our picture on the wall.
It’s how our brains work. Some type of feedback is necessary to let us know whether what we just did was a good or bad thing.
It’s important to note though, that we already get that feedback internally. We feel good when we help somebody or win a game or complete a goal.
Why do we always have to have extrinsic rewards? Why do we need something tangible that we can point to and admire? Why do we need to have something we can list on our resume to show what a great person we are?
What if instead, we did things for the intrinsic reward?
If we did the right things just because we know it’s the right thing…I’m not even sure what that world would look like. But I’d sure like to see it.