I do a mental eye roll whenever I hear someone say, "You get back what you put in." It's a presumptuous comment to make about anything, even if it's spoken in the spirit of encouraging someone to do their best so they can reap the rewards of their hard work.
Here's why I don't like this misleading adage:
1. By the logic of "you get back what you put in," when someone doesn't get the end result they were aiming for, must that mean they didn't utilize enough of themselves into reaching their goal? Of course not. So this saying sets someone up to feel like they didn't try hard enough when in reality, they might've done all that they could.
2. What if someone worked and worked and worked towards a goal, and the prize they feel is due to them is forever out of their reach? The "you get back what you put in" finger wagging in your face can leave someone feeling like they have been cheated, as if the universe now owed them something big.
3. It can tear someone up inside when they observe another person getting what they themselves had labored and sweated away for, and the cut goes even deeper when the "chosen one" appears to have been less deserving of the prize.
Self-doubt, entitlement, and bitterness are undesirable pieces of baggage for anyone to lug around.
Here's how I would put it: Sometimes you get back what you put in, and sometimes you don't. You don't always have full control over the results of your efforts.
What do you think of "You get back what you put in?" Have you ever NOT gotten back what you put in? How did you react to that disappointment?