Tuesday, 20 November 2007

What's in it for Me?

Tonight I went to the school with my husband and sister-in-law to hear Barbara Coloroso speak. What an amazing evening. When I heard she had been scheduled to come to town, I was quite excited. I have never read any of her work, although I have had one sitting in my pile of books to read for some time now, but I did see her on Oprah many years ago. It was especially exciting that she came to our little town of 2000 people.

One of the things she talked about really caught my attention. She discussed how we are a society that has taught our young people to do everything based on rewards. When children are in school they are rewarded points or prizes for good behavior. At home they are given allowances just for helping around the house. When these same young people get to college or university, they are still looking for the reward. What job pays the most? What is in it for me? She said when we reward children in this way, we are teaching them to think only of themselves and how they will benefit. Instead we should teach our children to do things for the kinds of feelings they get, and by doing so teach them to be caring human beings.

That got me thinking. My kids are often rewarded at school, in church and at home. I even reward myself. "If I lose so much weight, if I write so many words, etc...I will reward myself with ___ because I deserve it." In some ways I have forgotten how to do things just for the joy of accomplishing something and the satisfaction of a job well done.

There are many times when I question my desire to be a writer. I spend many hours writing and editing and daydreaming new ideas. So far I have very little to show for it. Often I ask my husband if it is worth the time and the effort I am putting into it if I never get my books published. He always tells me to keep going and I do. This is what I realized tonight...even if I never sell a book and always write only to have close family and friends read it, the monetary reward really isn't that important.

I love writing. I love telling a story and hearing the delight in my readers voices when they finish something I've written. Yes, it will be wonderful when I finally get published (positive attitude here), but that is just the icing on the cake. The true reason I do it is for the satisfaction of putting my words down and learning new skills in the process. In the end I have to do it because it is part of who I am and I love doing it. And if you can do something you love, isn't that the real reward.


Maria Zannini said...

>>And if you can do something you love, isn't that the real reward.

I love this attitude!

There is a definite ideology going around that "we" deserve instant gratification.

For myself, I do a good job out of sense of pride and honor--not because I'll get something out of it. Life isn't fair and no one owes me anything.

Good on you, Stephanie.

A. Riley said...

Very much agree with you Stephanie. I enjoy writing. Sometimes I'm bored with it, sometimes I feel like I'm making myself do it when I don't want to.

But I've heard somewhere that the best job is one that you would still do even if you never got paid. And I would be a writer the rest of my life and be okay if I never got paid. Of course, I would LOVE to be paid for it. But like you, as long as I'm happy and maybe I can give my friends and family something enjoyable to read, I'm satisfied.

A. Riley said...

P.S. I'm also doing the positive attitude thing. It's no longer "if I get published" - it's "when I get published".

Tristi Pinkston said...

So true! We need to do things because they're the right things to do, not because we're going to get paid for them in some way.

marlene said...

But the interesting thing is, since loving what we do becomes the ultimate reward, how can we "escape" being rewarded so we do things for the right reasons? As a teacher I spent some time thinking about motivations, even tried to understand how Heavenly Father motivates us. He does use rewards and punishments as a motivational system to teach us correct conduct and attitudes. If I have understand it correctly, with those who are hardest to teach he is very direct and precise about the punishments and rewards and many of the punishments are severe, but as we mellow and begin to follow and understand His teachings He uses more and more positive experiences to lead us to do better and better things for which He gives us more and more and so on. Often at first we are motivated by threats and fear (children), then by praise and rewards, then by true love for Him and others.
When we reach that state where we are acting truly out of love for what we are doing or for others, we don't consider our fears or the rewards about doing it but just the joy that can seem to become overwhelming, and, yes, it becomes a part of us.

Thank you for this timely reminder to me. A friend suggested last night that I write down exactly why I want to publish and to whom because I am questioning some things about my current market. This blog has really helped me put things into a better perspective.


marlene said...

Maybe I should rephrase that: there is a difference between external, physical rewards and internal emotional and spiritual feelings. It is when we feel the rewards coming from within ourselves and Heavenly Father that we are truly getting to the point that we can be motivated by love (or something like that).

See, you really do have me thinking. Thanks again.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Glad I could get you thinking. Your comment also got me thinking. Really the internal rewards are the most satisfying anyway.

marlene said...

Thanks for the review on Grave Secrets. I'm especially glad it is getting some attention for the family history aspect.

Also, please (if this is appropriate and will comfort her,)tell your sis that she and her family are in our thoughts. It take a long time to get through the process, and the holidays can be the very hardest.

It took me 15+ years to get Grave Secrets published, so just keep working on your book. It is worth it.

And again, this blog about rewards is still working on me--actually giving me some peace about a decision! Thanks again.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Thanks for the kind thoughts for my sister. I will pass them on.

As for the book, I don't know if I have the patience for 15 years, but I'll keep working at it.

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