Why everything is earned, not given


Kevin Mangelschots

We all know someone extremely intelligent, yet didn’t accomplish anything of worth in their life. Most of the time it’s because they’re lazy folks, or because they feel entitled to being rewarded. But that’s not how life works.

It’s because, in life, everything is earned, not given. That’s why discipline is even more critical than motivation to attain our goals.

Life doesn’t just simply hand out rewards. We must work hard, and be willing to go after it to get what we want. We need to put in the effort to satisfy our desires.

Why is everything in life earned, not given?

Illustration of a vicious cycle, showing that if you give respect, you get respect.

Valuable things must be earned because they are not just handed out

In life, everything is earned, nothing is given. The valuable things must be earned because something precious is unlikely to simply be handed out.

Let’s take trust as an example. Trust is earned, not given since it is such an invaluable and important trait for healthy, well-functioning relationships. If it was just handed out carelessly, then it would lose its worth, and others would start to misuse it.

A lot of people have the proclivity to feel entitled to things. Feeling that they are deserving of said rewards. But that’s not always the case. Life doesn’t owe us anything. We are all just a tiny, insignificant speck in time.

But there’s a hopeful message hidden in this seemingly depressing and negative fact as well. Even a speck can cast a great shadow and achieve great things if they’re willing to work hard, intelligently, and willing to stick to their guns.

Valuable things require hard work

Valuable things typically don’t come easy. They require tons of hard work and can require a considerable amount of intelligence to boot.

Not to mention that vital life skills such as persistence, foregoing short-term rewards for long-term rewards, and being introspective amongst many other skills are required to get what we want.

Hardworking people will almost always outwork individuals who refuse to put in the effort or who think they can rest on their laurels. There needs to be a huge discrepancy between one person’s intelligence and someone else’s effort if the intelligent guy wants to stay ahead. Never underestimate the results of hard work.

People typically don’t just hand out things

Most people don’t simply hand out success and rewards, especially not those who feel insecure about themselves.

A lot of people are riddled with insecurities. As a result, they don’t want to see other people succeed, even those who are worthy. Because that would mean they are inadequate, less competent, or too scared to attempt that challenging thing that someone else succeeded at.

You would be surprised how many people are jealous, angry, and sometimes even vengeful and spiteful at other people.

That’s why even those who are worthy of success, rewards, and promotion are not always given the appropriate payoff. And that’s exactly why it must be earned and taken instead of expecting people to simply give it to you. Don’t expect people to just hand it over to you because not everyone will do so, even if you are deserving.

Think of people at your work who perform their jobs to the absolute highest standard, and even more. They stand head and shoulders above their coworkers, yet that one employee who sits on their butt all day and does absolutely nothing of worth gets the promotion.

Picture of a man looking menacing in front of him with a laptop beside him.

The reason the undeserving person gets the promotion can vary. Maybe it’s to get rid of a useless individual, maybe it’s because of politics, because that person is friends with their superior, or maybe it’s because they don’t want to promote the individual that deserves it. After all, they do their job too well.

Think of it from the perspective of the boss. In their minds, letting go of someone who does their job well is detrimental to the company and makes their job harder. That’s why they want to keep their productive, easygoing employees around, even if they deserve to be promoted. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

If we know that we have to work hard to achieve and get the things we so desire, then that will be a large incentive to create a powerful lifelong learning and improvement mindset. Because we need to have that thirst for knowledge to learn something new every day.
This constant, ongoing process of self-improvement will give us the competitive edge over other individuals that we so desperately need to set us apart from the crowd.

Success is earned through hard work

Image of men pouring concrete.

Nothing is given, everything is earned since success must be realized. It’s not yours by right, or sense of entitlement. But most people have a shallow idea about what success is. Most folks think having a lot of material wealth equals success. And while that can certainly be a part of being successful, it’s not the only or even most important thing.
Success is being content with what you’re doing in life, and where you are going. And that can only be achieved through continuous mental, and physical self-improvement. Reaching the goal itself is not even what brings us the most satisfaction, as many people fall prey to depression and lack of purpose when they finally reach that goal(s) that they’ve been working their whole lives for.

It’s the process that’s most essential and that makes us feel good. Seeing that we’re doing something useful, that we’re getting better at something. Feeling like we’re doing the correct stuff to put things right, consequently gives us more control over our own lives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does, “always earned, never given” mean?

Illustration of a man scratching their head while holding a yellow question mark.

Always earned, never given means that the good, valuable things and rewards are not simply handed out just because you feel entitled to them or because you’re intelligent. Even more so, just because you truly deserve something, does not mean that you’ll automatically get it.

It’s about what you do in life. Things need to be earned because the valuable stuff in life requires hard work. It demands effort, and for people to put in the necessary amount of time.

In a perfect world, the appropriate people who work hard, are smart, and do their job perfectly, and then some would be rewarded, while those who coast, and just do the bare minimum, would be punished.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. And thus, the right people aren’t always rewarded. That’s why it must be earned. It’s up to you to get out there and to get what you’re worth, even if people are unwilling to give it to you at first.

What does, “respect is earned, not given” mean?

Image of the quote, “respect is something earned, not something given”, written in white letters on a black background.

Respect is earned, not given, which means that respect is a valuable commodity that isn’t given lightly or without reason.

Respect is also one of those rare things in life that can’t be bought, nor can we force others to respect us. That’s exactly why it must be earned due to displaying traits that are desirable such as being honest, hardworking, kind, and assertive.

All things considered, we must be put well together to be worthy of receiving the respect of others. Or, at the very least, to maintain it.

Why respect is earned, not given

People don’t know you yet

Respect is earned, not given since people don’t know you, they have yet to decide who you are, and what your character is like. This means we’ll have to make a judgment about whether another person is trustworthy or not.

And trusting the wrong people can have devastating results in life. People can manipulate, and misuse you for their gain.

People need to and are going to judge you

Image of a woman whispering to another man about an oblivious young man in front wearing headphones.

People make judgments all the time. We judge things based on their subjective value to us. Likewise, we also judge and decide who we deem worthy of our respect and trust, and who we view as untrustworthy.

We often tell ourselves and those around us that judging others is bad. But how do we figure out what goals are worth pursuing in life, and who to trust if we don’t make value judgments?

The truth is that we judge things and others to figure out if they’re worth investing our time and effort in or not.

You need to be worthy of respect

Not everyone is deserving of respect. Some are slimy, untrustworthy, and lying individuals. These are what I would call despicable people.

To be respected, we need to possess certain personality traits. Traits such as confidence, honesty, and trustworthiness are all vital to be respected.

You need to be competent to be respected

Hand with marker writing, Skill concept. White background.

Competence breeds respect.

Those of us who talk a big game, but lack the necessary skills to back it up, will never be rewarded with respect by those who can read between the lines and can see the truth for what it is.

Fortunately, even if people might not respect you right now, competency is something we can work on. Self-improvement is key to becoming physically and mentally strong. And strength will always be respected and rewarded, even in modern times.

You need to be feared to be respected

Being capable of being aggressive, or rather being assertive, and standing up for yourself is required to be respected.

But, the thing is, if you’re capable of standing up for yourself, then you will rarely have to use it because people know you can, and will use it if the situation calls for it. This will become apparent through your body language and the way you carry yourself during your daily life.

Ask yourself this, why do you have to be capable of being an assertive person who will fight if needed? Because how can you respect someone weak and incapable of defending themselves? That’s just pitiful.

You cannot force others to respect you

Two people engaged in a tug of war.

Respect is earned, not given because you cannot force others to respect you, no matter how much you would like to sometimes.

Respect is one of those rare things that can’t be bought because you ultimately can’t force someone else to respect you if they don’t want to.

The only way to earn someone else’s respect is to act like a person that’s worthy of respect. This means you’ve got to behave as a responsible and fair adult.

Is respect earned or given?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

Respect can be earned and given, depending on the perspective.

I start off respecting all new people I meet, and I go in with the best intentions, thinking that things will go smoothly. In my eyes, you can only lose my respect. However, I won’t simply tell, or blindly trust people I don’t know. That would just be naive on my part. The way I see it, people can only lose my respect, so they have to work and be worthy to maintain it.

Some people start off trusting nobody and demanding others to earn their respect first. But I think that’s a negative and overall pessimistic way of viewing the world and other folks. It seems like you’re inherently starting biased and on a bad note.

So one could say that respect is given, not earned if one starts by giving everyone the credit of respect. Likewise, some people will say that respect is earned, never given because they want others to prove themselves before respecting them.

I would say to start with giving respect to everyone you meet, but make sure that they earn your full respect down the road, and that they are worthy of maintaining your trust and respect.


Most things in life are earned, not given.

Ultimately, we can’t coerce others to trust and respect us. But, chances are large that others will if we focus on self-improvement and being well put together.

Thinking you have to work hard to reap the rewards is a good general mindset to have. Because this way, you have an incentive to apply yourself, and the chances of obtaining what you desire go way up. Much higher than if you just expect everything to be handed out to you out of generosity or because you feel entitled to it.

Call to action

“Take action” written with white chalk on a blackboard.

Try being the best possible version of yourself. Focus on continual self-improvement to better yourself physically and mentally.

Stay true to yourself. Some will respect you for who you are, while others will not. But in the end, if you remain true to your character, the right people will stay, while the wrong ones will walk right out of your life.

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