Thursday, June 10, 2010

What Are You Worth?

Some time ago, Seth Godin (the father of the "Tribes" and "Ideavirus" concepts" wrote a great little piece about what are you worth (see: Hourly work vs. linchpin work)? In this article he goes on to suggest that what makes you worthwhile is not so much how rare your skills are, but if there are no ready substitutes, what are you really worth? Essentially, if you have the ability to bring in an additional $1 million dollars pretty easily for a company, or sell 20% more seats for a concert quickly, or save a company 25% of their operating budget?  What is that REALLY worth? $100K, $1MM or more? This is an excellent question.

This reminds me of the story of Admiral Nimitz and the mechanic that after WWII the aircraft carrier Enterprise was having a problem with its boilers. This mechanic had retired in the Philippines, and after exhausting every possible solution, the crew finally contacted this mechanic and flew him to the carrier. Once he got there he asked a few questions and then proceeded down to the belly of the ship. After about 10 minutes, he comes upon a set of pipes, takes out this sledge hammer, and gives a few really good hits on the pipes. Amazingly the ship is again at full steam! At which time, the mechanic hands Nimitz a bill for $10,000. Nimitz is outraged, and being the crafty Admiral he is asks the mechanic to itemize the bill. At which point the mechanic takes the bill and writes: “Use of hammer: $1.00; knowing where to strike: $9,999.00.”


It is precisely this ability of knowing where to hit that makes a person valuable. As I like to say, “Being good is making it look easy, but getting good is never easy.”   What are you doing in your life to get being good and earning what you are REALLY worth?  Here is a clue, working for someone else you will most likely never know.

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