Given vs. Earned

Peter H Christian
4 min readNov 5, 2023

Nothing is given, everything is earned since success must be realized. It’s not yours by right, or sense of entitlement.

Giving something to somebody is not necessarily because they did nothing to earn it and you are being magnanimous in doing so.

It is because you like the person and want to show your affection or appreciation to them for just being who they are.

When someone declares that they have given you something (After you put in much time and effort to attain it}, really rubs me the wrong way. Let me give you an example of such a thing that happened to me.

I and my company dealt with a state funded agency that granted certain project funds to companies in the state to make improvements.

While my company visited the prospective companies, determined the needs, wrote the project request, did the project work and then wrote final reports and project documents, the state funded agency took all of the credit for the work done and the results achieved (Jobs created, jobs retained and increased profitability).

With one company we had a tight deadline to do everything in the required time frame so we started our work before the project was approved by the agency. During the approval process the company decided not to do the project. At that point we had expended about $2,000 which I asked the agency to reimburse us for.

“No way” stated the Director. He would not pay for anything not approved. He then went on to tell me that over the course of 30 years, they had “given” me and my company $30 million in funding and I should not quibble over the $2,000 owed to us.

His logic was flawed at best.

First, my company was only 17 years old at the time, so where he got 30 years God only knows. Second, our work with them had reduced each year, so $30 million was a ridiculous figure. It was $10 million at most and that included the company’s contribution which was 50%. Third, remember who was doing all of the work. Nobody had “given” us anything. We worked our tails off while they took all of the credit.

It amazes me that people can be so callous and arrogant. Yes, providing money is important, but that is only a part of the deal and a small one at that.

He then threatened that based on how I responded to this would determine if they did business with us anymore. I didn’t bite and left it there. There no sense creating a rift over $2,000 and a self-centered individual. I was amazed but not surprised at the arrogance of someone telling me that everything I and my company had worked for had been “given” to us.

Success will never be given to you.

I am sure that you have come across or maybe deal with similar people in your life.

They want to take credit for all of the hard work and success you have achieved, while doing little themselves.

Unfortunately, in many cases they get away with their claims and boasting. It is indeed not a fair world and it is people like that that make it that way.

There are many accomplished people who live in the shadows. They contribute much, but get little or no credit for it while others who have no clue about what has been done are getting pats on the back for their supposed great accomplishments.

This should not be a discouragement to you.

When those closest to you know the truth, you will get the recognition you deserve. It may not be the headline recognition the others get, but it is real and heartfelt.

To this day, I get notes from time to time from people who appreciate the work I and my company did for them. They know who really helped them and without who they would not have gotten the success they ultimately achieved.

Most importantly, you know what you did to help others. The effort that was put in and what it took to get them from problem to solution. And it is their success that we bask in. That is something that those who take undeserved credit can never feel as when you are never a part of the road to get you from there to here, you cannot relish the ultimate realization of success.



Peter H Christian

Peter played a key role in the 700% growth of Crayola over 17 years. His first book, “What About the Vermin Problem?” is now an Amazon bestseller.