In the world of work, you will always be paid in direct proportion to three things, says Brian Tracy in ‘Something for Nothing’ (www.jaicobooks.com). “First, the work you do; second, how well you do it; and third, the difficulty of replacing you.”

The key to your future, therefore, is to choose the right job for your special talents and skills, become very good at doing that job, and then make yourself indispensable, he explains. To earn in the current, continually changing marketplace, each person is responsible for regularly upgrading the skill-set, the author advises.

We create our own jobs, no one can make another person more productive, he avers. “A company can only create an environment where a productive person can utilise more of his potential to contribute value. But the individual is always personally responsible for his level of production and the amount he earns or fails to earn.”

From the day you take your first job until the day you retire, no matter who signs your paycheque, you are the president of your own entrepreneurial business, selling your services into a competitive market, urges Tracy. “As the president of your own personal services corporation, you are totally responsible for training and development, productivity and quality control, personal promotion, and financial management.”

The book looks at the common craving of ‘something for nothing’ as an obsession with free money, a virus that can destroy the economy. When people strive to get rewards without working, riches without contribution, recognition without achievement, or power without service, they are manifesting the dark side of greed, the author rues.

On the other hand, “when the entrepreneurial and creative energies of people motivated by greed are directed and channelled into productive activities, greed becomes a powerful and positive social good. It drives people to innovate and create newer, better, faster, and cheaper ways to provide products and services for others.”

A blunt point from Tracy is that people at work generally like to take it easy. He bemoans the fact that once a person has a job and feels relatively secure in that job, what happens is a movement up the hierarchy of needs to comfort and leisure, with the employee doing everything possible to enjoy more comfort and leisure at work.

The book cites an alarming finding of Robert Half International, that fully 50 per cent of working time today is wasted, mostly in idle chitchat with co-workers, personal business, and extended coffee and lunch breaks.

“The average workweek in America today is 32 hours, even though most people are paid for 40 hours. Not only is much of that time wasted, but the time when the employee is actually working is often spent on low-priority tasks that contribute limited value to the employer.”

In a chapter titled ‘welfare, entitlements, and society’ the author differentiates between short- and long-term approaches to benevolence. The former is about taking money away from people who have earned it and giving it immediately to people who need it at the moment, whether or not this robs them of their self-esteem and makes them dependent on government in the long-term, explains Tracy.

In contrast, the long-term approach to benevolence believes that the best welfare programme is a good job. “The best citizen is a proud, independent, self-reliant person who is in control of his own life. People who think long-term do everything possible to encourage a vibrant business system that creates jobs, growth, hope, and opportunity for more people.”

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