The Lesson That Changed My Life
My father taught me many things as I grew up. But there was one lesson that has stuck like glue. That one lesson has probably made more difference in the lifestyle that we are able to enjoy than any other.
I was 13, a paperboy, hauling myself out of bed at ridiculous hours to throw papers on people’s porches.
I came home from school one day to discover a printing press being delivered to our front door. Two minutes later, I was helping to carry it down the stairs.
My Dad had just started a publishing business, and he wanted me to quit my paperboy job and learn how to run a printing press.
It sounded interesting, so I worked at it for an evening or two, but then, being 13, found that it was difficult and challenging work, so I went to my dad to quit and start back to throwing papers.
That’s when my dad taught me this lesson:
The amount of money you make in life is in direct proportion to the difficulty in training your replacement.
Now, that’s not easy for the typical 13-year old to understand, so…
He put me in the car and took me to a fast food joint. He pointed out the fry cooks slaving away at the grill, then told me that, other than the manager, there probably wasn’t a person behind that counter who was earning more than 25 cents over minimum wage. Why? Because it would only take an hour or two to train their replacement.
Then we discussed the guys who pumped gas (yes, they still did that back then), checked out groceries, stocked shelves and yes, threw papers on people’s porches.
Every one of them could be replaced with someone who could perfect 80% of the skills necessary to do that job within a matter of hours.
That made the people who do those jobs, quite literally, into commodities. And commodities never attract a premium.
Then we discussed other jobs, careers that required more knowledge and skill to perform.
Jobs like engineers, architects, and ironically, running printing presses.
You can’t just pick someone with skills in those areas up off the street. It takes years to teach someone how to do what needs to be done to get their knowledge and skill to a level where they are proficient.
Those people are not commodities. They earn more, for a lifetime.
I taught this to my children. One of them listened, got an unusual and valuable skill, and paid her way through college earning twice the prevailing wage in that town. She and her husband (who also had a skill) graduated debt-free and even had enough in savings to pay the bills until a the right job offer arrived in this tough job market. All is well (and my grandson is darling!)
Another child ignored my encouragement. And, after many hours of competing with all of the other wonderful, dependable, talented, but non-skilled students, ended up with a minimum-wage job. A great, enjoyable job, yes, but the difference between minimum wage and double that makes a huge difference in a college student’s lifestyle.
Teach that to your kids. It will make all the difference in their life.
But there’s a whole additional level to this lesson. One that applies to you. And me.
What types of people do we pay the most?
There are the Lawyers, and CPA’s, but that money’s paid grudgingly.
Then there’s another group of people who we gladly pay lots of money to. We call them gurus, speakers, consultants…
…people who teach us how to build our business, give us knowledge we want to have and help us achieve our personal goals.
So, instead of earning a few dollars, even a few tens of dollars an hour, these people are pocketing hundreds, even thousands of dollars per hour.
What’s the key lesson here?
I could say that you get paid for your expertise, and that’s partially right.
But more important than that, you get paid more when people perceive you as an expert, as someone who’s worth paying more to because they believe they gain earn substantially more of whatever they desire by paying you lots of money than they’ll earn from keeping that money in their checking account.
That’s called positioning. And learning to position yourself as an expert is even more important than the expertise itself.
There are lots of people who know lots more than some people commonly perceived as experts, but because they’ve not positioned themselves correctly, they get paid much much less.
The net result of doing this is that you begin to achieve what we call expert or guru positioning.
When you become one of those you get to make lots more money.
And, you get to make a much bigger impact on other people and the world around you….
Which is even more fun than making lots of money!
How do you achieve expert positioning?
I’ll give you a hint – people don’t give you expert status.
You create it.
In their minds.
That’s the essence of positioning.
And learning to do that is one of the most important things you can do in building your life and your career.
This one area of study is probably worth more focus and study than almost any other if you’re truly serious about changing your future.
What are you doing to build your expert status and position yourself as an expert?
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