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I don't look to jump over 7-foot bars; I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.
-- Warren Buffett
 

 

Friday, February 9, 1996

Slave to the clock

Do you get paid for your time? Most people do, either by the hour, the day or the month. Most people are paid for their services, and that pay is generally based on time. The plumber gets $50 an hour. The convenience store clerk gets $8 and hour. The corporate CEO gets $10,000 a month. The consultant get $5,000 for a two-week project. The lawyer gets $200 per billable hour. The pediatrician gets $45 for a 5-minute examination.

Can you ever get paid enough for your time? Think about it. What is your time worth to you? It is the one thing that you can never get more of. It’s the one thing that everyone has the same amount of. You can’t buy time. You can buy the services of others for a certain period of time, but you cannot buy time itself.

If you can’t buy time, then why are you selling it? Trading your time for money is a trap that’s hard to get out of. Because no matter how much money you’re making, you’ll never be able to buy that time back.

Don’t sell your time. Instead, sell your creativity, your ability to solve problems, your innovation, your insight, your ability to create value and enrich the lives of others.

You only have so much time available, but there are no such limits on your creativity or your innovation. When you begin to offer your talents and abilities, instead of your time, then you break free of limitations.

"That may sound all well and good,” you say. “But I have to show up for work every day and put in 9 hours so I can make the house payment and feed my family."

The good news is that you can break free of the time trap, no matter what your employment or financial situation. You don’t have to be independently wealthy to do this. In fact, most people who are wealthy by their own hand got that way by doing exactly what I’m saying -- breaking out of the time trap.

How do you do it if you work for someone else? It’s easy. You just do it. You adopt the attitude that you’re no longer trading your time for money. That instead, your offering your skills and abilities and creativity and innovation, and in return you’re being rewarded for it. Now your employer may see you in terms of an hourly, or monthly worker. But that doesn’t mean that you have to see yourself that way. Yes, you’ll still need to show up for work on a daily basis. But when you’re there, you can begin to offer more than your time. If you make the decision that you’re no longer getting paid by the hour, or by the month, and start acting like you’re getting paid for the value you produce, then time will soon cease to be an issue.

If you’re getting paid by the hour, then you generally work like you’re getting paid by the hour, and you limit yourself accordingly. Your focus is on the short term, and you accomplish little more than trading your time for a little bit of money. If you think of yourself as a salaried employee then you’ll work like a salaried employee. If you think of yourself as owner of the business, then you’ll produce so much value that you may soon be the owner of your own business.

Time is a much too convenient way to measure work, and it increasingly has little or no relationship to the work being done. Does it really make any sense to pay anyone by the hour? Don’t think of yourself as a salaried employee, earning X amount per month. Think of yourself as a value creator and a value producer. Look for ways to solve problems and to enrich the lives of others. Don’t expect to get paid just because the clock is running. Go beyond the time trap and learn to create true wealth for yourself and for others.

— Ralph Marston

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Copyright ©1996 Ralph S. Marston, Jr. All Rights Reserved. The Daily Motivator is provided for your personal, non-commercial use only. Other than personal sharing, please do not re-distribute without permission.