Robin Sharma said “Success is never deserved, it’s always earned”

Webster’s dictionary has very straight forward definitions of the two terms that are clearly distinct and different in their own right:

Deserve is defined as “to be worthy of” or in other words, to be entitled to. 

Earn is defined as “to receive as return for effort and especially for work done or services rendered.”

To receive cause, you exist

I remember an incident, early in my career, when during an employee exit, employee demanded for certain things that according to him he deserved for his service and my Chief Executive responded-“you don’t deserve anything, you need to earn everything”

World over, there are 2 thoughts around dealing with the poor and the destitute.

One thought is to ensure that they get what every human must to leave in a humane manner.

While the other thought is to avoid handouts so people go out and work for what they need and the taxes from the Haves can be used in a more directed manner.

Those with the 2nd thought process think of handouts creating lazy population without motivation to do anything because they know there is a backstop.

They feel you need to earn a living, there is no free lunch, you cant feel entitled to anything in life.

While those with the 1st thought believe that not everyone has the same opportunity in life and hence the have-nots’ need to be supported.


However, what about people who are not have-not’s but have a natural sense of entitlement due to their circumstances or their environment.

All of us have an inflated sense of what we bring to the table and hence the feeling of entitlement.

Stephen Covey in his book “7 habits of highly effective people” wrote about the passbook concept.

In a bank passbook the entry in the passbook matches the money deposited by us.

However, in the passbook of life, what you think you deposited might not have the same value to the recipient and that’s where the gap emerges in what we feel we deserve and what we get.

Work for it

Think about an actor or an athlete or a doctor who is the son of a successful actor, athlete or a doctor-they don’t deserve success because of what the parent has achieved.

It’s a fresh field and you will need to work hard.

You might have doors open for you-best of movie producers, coaches or hospital to work at, but that’s it, after that it’s what you and not where you come from that will determine your success.

No Entitlement in Markets

Same applies to the markets, there is no entitlement.

If you beat the market 1 year, well the market doesn’t care, you will need to keep working to ensure that you come out on top again.

Your past success has no meaning today, every day is a fresh day and fresh challenge.

All your past success does is to give you a template, you either keep working to solidify it or rest on the laurels.

However, as the best of them have realized, the moment you rest on the laurels, you lose the script.

End of the day, like the debate around have-not’s, all we deserve is a chance to compete, success is not a guarantee and will never be.

Happy Reading

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