I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but very early in my career I developed a philosophy about work that has turned out very well for me. With the benefit of hindsight (30 years), here is how I describe my philosophy:
Make Sure That I'm Worth More Than I'm Paid
It's a contrarian view of work when you think about it.
The more normal view is to make sure that you are paid what you're worth. This is a normal approach since it says that if your role or value is $100,000, then you should be paid $100,000. It speaks to our common desire for fairness. One person/party should not "get over" or take advantage of the other person/party.
Another view that is very common is you should try to be paid more than you're worth. Why not? If someone will pay you more, then they must think you are worth it. If they will pay you more, you should take it, right?
These are three very different philosophies or approaches that, in my opinion, are very important to think about and understand in your career or your business. Then decide which one you should adopt as your guiding principle in the work that you do.
The Value vs Pay Quadrant
The approach you choose impacts how you provide value at work. Whether as an employee or entrepreneur, how you purposefully go about adding value and being paid will make a big difference in how you feel about your work and the financial rewards you receive during your working/business life.
I like to look at it as a Value vs Pay/Compensation Quadrant.
When you provide a very high level of value and you are well paid, you are in The Sweet Spot. Your primary thought process is how do I add even more value?
When you don't provide much value to an employer or a customer and you are not paid well, you are in the Weakness section. The worst of both worlds. It is easy for people to get trapped here because they feel taken advantage of because of their low pay/revenue. It is hard to think about adding value at a higher level if you think you are getting screwed as it is.
When you add value at a high level but you are not paid well, you are in the Strength section. Most people in this category are doing something they enjoy and they get a kick out of doing it at a high level. The problem is they have not figured out yet how to make the money follow. It's a position of strength because you are good at adding value and once you improve your ability to turn that into higher pay you will move yourself over to The Sweet Spot.
When you add little value but you are highly paid, you are in the Worry section. You know you are getting over on the boss or the customer and you are always looking over your shoulder. You know they are going to come to their senses… you just don't know when.
Common Sense vs Wisdom
"Common sense" says that the way you make more money is to, well, ask for more money. To put your focus on moving yourself to the right on the quadrant.
It's the "OK boss, give me a pay increase then I will take on the new role/position you want to put me in.
It's a "move to the right first (get more pay), then move up (add more value) approach to work. That's the "common sense" view.
But wisdom says you should first focus on moving up the value line… then to the right on the pay line. You should focus on adding more and more value then make sure that the pay catches up to you after some time passes.
Consider for a minute where you are on the quadrant. You personally.
Then pick your best customer and see where you are on the quadrant as a company with them. Do the same for your worst customer.
You can do the same kind of exercise by picking your best team member and look at the value they provide to you vs their pay. You will get a quick sense for their philosophy of work by looking at where they land on the quadrant.
More to come on this subject! J
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