Teaching things to my son is sometimes tough. Not tough because Ben has a bad attitude or he doesn’t listen. It’s tough because I often lack the right package to deliver to him, or I’m not communicating my point very well. That’s why I spend these mornings coming up with something valuable to share; I work on my skills so I can have something to share.

One thing that I’ve changed in my life is not to play music or audiobooks when I’m in the car with Ben. Not for long trips but trips under an hour or so. I try to shut off radios and things when I’m 1:1 with him. It’s the perfect time to talk and get to know my son better each time we drive around.

Yesterday, I was teaching him this philosophy: “You don’t get paid for your time; you get paid for your value in the market.” I joked with him and said, “America is not a bed. It’s a ladder.” It’s a ladder that we can climb, and we climb it by becoming more valuable. I told him about how I started my career making $5.25 an hour as a pizza cook for a small family-owned pizzeria in Frankfort, IL.

He understood right away that I only made that much because I hadn’t become very valuable to the marketplace. I explained that I didn’t really think it was a great idea to pay kids $15.00 to work at Wendy’s because I wasn’t sure if they were valuable enough to make the business money and take home $15.00/hr. America is a ladder, and you climb the ladder by becoming more valuable to the marketplace. Now, that’s not to say people aren’t valuable as parents, as church members, as community members–no, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that if you aren’t bringing value to the marketplace, then you shouldn’t get paid more. If you become more valuable to the marketplace, then you’ll make more money. So, you don’t get paid for your time; you get paid for your value in the marketplace (also called reality).

I asked my son, “If I was still a pizza cook at Enrico’s Restaurant 30 years later, should I be paid more?” He took some time to think about it, and he said, “no.” I said, “why?”, “because you’d still just be a pizza cook, right?” Exactly. Why pay me more just because I’d chosen to stay in the same job? I wasn’t bringing more value to the marketplace! Maybe over those 30 years, I could make a pizza in 15 seconds instead of 20–sorry, no one cares! That’s not adding any value.

What a shame it would be if I started and just finished my career by being a pizza cook–Well… that’s not what life is about. That’s not what America is about. We have to all start and grow; we all have to become more valuable to the marketplace if we want to become more successful.

Here's the secret. Learn how to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. Work hard at your job, sure you'll make a living; if you work harder on yourself, you'll make a fortune. You can't become wealthy on-demand, but you can become more valuable on-demand. You can always pick up that book, take that extra class, and get to work on yourself at any time.

Take an assessment of your situation. Are you expecting more and but not bringing anything more? Waiting for the market to change, the economy to change, the company policy change? If so, remember this: You’re waiting. For me, it’s easier to climb than to wait; it’s more enjoyable for me. America is a ladder. You don’t get paid for your time. You get paid for how valuable you’ve become in the marketplace.

Let’s get to work team! Have a great day. I’m sending love to you people!

Featured Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash