1 min read

Cheating the System

When I had a real job, I didn't value the work I did.  I didn't think the company did anything important and I thought the work I did could be done by anyone.  That's not to say I had low self-esteem, I just thought the work could be done by a monkey and I was the fastest and smartest monkey.

Because I didn't value my work, I felt like I was cheating the system.  I was lucky to be the cog in the system because I was a high-paid cog that could be easily switched out.

Side Story:  In an early job, we had a weekly sales meeting, covering the volume that each salesperson had produced over the past week.  One week, the big boss threw a fit and vented, "Do you know what fungible means?  I should take each of your names off this report and replace it with a number!"

This environment leads to two outcomes:

  1. Maximize the situation.  Make as much money with as little effort without getting fired.
  2. Fear when the spigot gets turned off.  Target an amount of money you need to be "safe".  

Unfortunately, this number will always increase as you make more money.  My career became focused on maximizing the amount of money I made.  Value and money were intertwined in my head.  I had imposter syndrome because I couldn't reconcile that I produced no value but made money.  Throw in the fact that most people look at finance as prestigious and you start to understand what "Golden Handcuffs" are.

A consequence of feeling you're cheating the system is that you're more likely to be in a scarcity mindset.  You start thinking everything is a zero-sum game.  You stop believing there's a relationship between being rewarded and creating value, and stop thinking that you can create anything of value.