The “I Deserve a Raise” Mentality

There are a lot of people out there that feel they deserve a raise but aren’t getting raises. They have the “I deserve a raise” mentality.

On the surface, their argument is about value creation, but deeper down it is actually about responsibility and resentment.

It is about choices they are making but trying to avoid responsibility for.

Every time you do something you don’t want to do (without accepting you are ultimately responsible for that decision) you are adding to a resentment savings account. When you don’t take responsibility for your work choices you are adding to that balance.

The healthy resolution to this feeling is to look at it and accept the decisions you are making. To accept reality. That everything you do, you want to do on some level, or else you wouldn’t do it.

But most people don’t take the healthy resolution. Most people don’t take personal responsibility. Instead, that balance of resentment is projected onto others. It is turned into the disempowered “they owe me” mentality.

People convince themselves they deserve a raise or a promotion because of sacrifices the are choosing but denying responsibility for.

If they get a raise they get a temporary reprieve but find out quickly that it doesn’t change anything about the dynamic. That they just find new reasons to project that resentment.

If they don’t get a raise they quit. They clear the board and go start somewhere new. But without any reflection or understanding the dynamic that got them there in the first place they will simply end up where they were before.

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield | Notes & Quotes

Do the Work is a short follow up to The War of Art and Turning Pro. I read it this month as fuel to fight against resistance. The key ideas are the same, but the stories and framing are different enough to make the book a fresh motivator for getting up and going to battle with resistance.

Here are my favorite quotes from the book:

“In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these acts will elicit Resistance.”

You don’t experience resistance before watching TV before eating a burger, or before staying home from the gym. It is only when you are trying to make positive improvements for the long term that the volume of resistance cranks up.

“Resistance Is Infallible Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.”

The fact that resistance is strongest for the things that are most important to us makes it a great tool for gaining self-awareness. Obviously, there are things you don’t want to do that aren’t your calling. But those things don’t haunt your dreams. What resistance points towards are the activities and goals you can’t get out of your head, but also can’t seem to accomplish.

“In other words, fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”

“The problem with friends and family is that they know us as we are. They are invested in maintaining us as we are. The last thing we want is to remain as we are.”

One of the hardest things about making positive changes in our lives is the conflict it can cause with the people closest to us. They people who are accustomed to us and instinctively scared of our changes.

“Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.”

“Don’t prepare. Begin. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is Resistance.”

“Research can become Resistance. We want to work, not prepare to work.”

This is one of the areas where I have personally struggled the most. Preparation can be your friend, but only once you have gone a few rounds with resistance. If you are working on something new, or something where the resistance is particularly strong, it’s better to jump right in and direct your actions as you go.

“The universe is not indifferent. It is actively hostile.”

Most people give up when they realized that the world is not going to hand them whatever they want. They settle. They blame the economy, the government, the education system. But true professionals know that to get want you want you don’t wait for handouts and support, you prepare to go in alone and seize what you want.

“One rule for first full working drafts: get them done ASAP. Don’t worry about quality. Act, don’t reflect. Momentum is everything.”

“Suspending self-judgment doesn’t just mean blowing off the “You suck” voice in our heads. It also means liberating ourselves from conventional expectations—from what we think our work “ought” to be or “should” look like.”

“Keep Working, Part Two Sometimes on Wednesday I’ll read something that I wrote on Tuesday and I’ll think, “This is crap. I hate it and I hate myself.” Then I’ll re-read the identical passage on Thursday. To my astonishment, it has become brilliant overnight.”

“There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us. Step one is to recognize this. This recognition alone is enormously powerful. It saved my life, and it will save yours”

“I’ve never read anything better on the subject than this from Marianne Williamson: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


Nuance in Language

One of the small things that I like about Spanish is the nuance you have when making apologies.

At home in Canada, people say sorry for everything.

Bump into someone; sorry.

Need to squeeze around someone; sorry.

Someone’s dog died; sorry.

You failed to do something you said you would do; sorry.

In the US, excuse me is much more common for the first and second scenario, but in English generally we assign lots of different meanings to sorry. In Mexico, it is wonderful to see the range of options for these different situations in the Spanish language.

Bump into someone; disculpe.

Need to squeeze around someone; con permiso.

Someone’s dog died; lo siento.

You failed to do something you said you would do; perdoname.

For years it bothered me when people would say “I’m sorry” when something bad was happening. It is apologizing for something they have no responsibility for. Clearly, they aren’t actually apologizing, they are trying to let you know they empathize, but there isn’t a good common way of saying that, so they say sorry.

When you first learn Spanish in school, they teach you that lo siento is sorry, but it is actually specifically for empathizing with others. Directly translated it means “I feel it”. It is letting someone know that you feel their pain, without apologizing or taking responsibility.

Having more words is not always better, but having the nuance in “apologies” that exist in Spanish does make a noticeable difference in making social interactions run smoothly.

Finding Your Dream Job

My daily blog post for today is up on the Praxis blog. In it I talk about what it actually takes to “find” your dream job.

You won’t find your dream job on or any other job board. You won’t find a job description that ticks all the boxes you are interested in. If you are waiting around for the perfect job to appear, you will be waiting a long time.

To get a dream job you have to start working and create it.

Most people view employment relationships as a fixed unchangeable state instead of a dynamic two-way relationship. As a result, they fixate on job descriptions and discount their ability to adapt and develop over time.

Winning Your Championship

A great interview came out this weekend with Shaq interviewing Kobe Bryant. They talk about their time together and the disagreements they had along the way. It is a fascinating look into their relationship and how they think about their craft.

Something they both share in common is a fierce competitive drive. They both were obsessed with winning championships.

For Kobe especially, winning as many NBA Championships as he could was his goal and he made massive sacrifices in his life to get it. He sacrificed personal relationships, time with his family, physical health, all as a means of getting championships.

But even if you are not a professional athlete, to achieve something meaningful you have to make sacrifices, but what complicates things for most of us is the lack of a defined championship.

Great athletes have a clear goal they are working towards, so it is easier to make sacrifices to achieve it. Outside of the NBA/NHL/NFL, the championship is up to you to define. You can pursue many different ends, you can live a life with no championship, or you can pick one for yourself.

If you are an entrepreneur, maybe the championship for you is an IPO. Maybe it is a $10M exit. Maybe it is hiring 1000 people.

If you know what the goal you are working towards is, you can make decisions about what you are willing to sacrifice to get it.

But if you don’t define what you are after– if you simply float through life with the goal of enjoying the day–you will have no context for the sacrifices you need to make to succeed. You will sleep in, you will take the easy way you, you will avoid hard conversations because they don’t serve you because you don’t have an end you are aiming towards.

One of the many lessons you can take from great athletes like Shaq or Kobe is the incredible value of having a clear goal you are building towards. You don’t have the NBA Championship to go after, but you have the power to define your own goal and start working towards it.

***One of the most enjoyable and insightful parts of the interview comes when Shaq talks about how he would take the offseason off because he knew how hard Kobe would be working.

Sacrifice Is Required For Success

You have to sacrifice to get what you want in life.

Most of us aren’t willing to pay the price required to get what we want though. We want rewards without work.

We wish for easy results because sacrifice is hard. It is hard to get out of bed in the morning and get to work, it is hard to work at 8 pm on a Friday when your friends are going out and trying to convince you to come along. It is hard to achieve something lasting and meaningful.

Success is so elusive for people because they aren’t willing to pay the price to get what they want. They wish success was free and so they sit around complaining instead of working. They wait for success to go on special. They want the Black Friday deal for achieving their goals, but spoiler alert, success will never go on sale. The price will always be high. You will always have to sacrifice comfort, stability, and easy fun to achieve something of meaning.

If you aren’t willing to pay the price, if you aren’t willing to sacrifice to get what you want, it is time to step back and really think about if you actually care about the goals you are pursuing. Because to have an impact, you have to find the things you care enough about to make massive sacrifices for.

You Can’t Sit and Wait For a Good Idea

When you need an idea, you can’t sit around and wait for it to show up.Good ideas don’t come when you want them to. Good ideas come when you are actively engaging with all sorts of ideas, good and bad.

When I am pressed and struggling to come up with something for my daily blog post, I write a list of ten ideas for blog posts. I completely take the pressure off of myself and allow good and bad ideas to get out of my mind and onto paper and 99% of the time there are one or two good ideas in that list of 10.

But it is almost never the first one. Usually, it takes letting out a few bad ideas before my mind makes the connections that I actually find exciting and engaging.

The next time you are struggling to come up with a good idea for something, give up on trying to find a good idea. Just start writing down all sorts of ideas. Turn on the idea tap and let all the bad ideas out. More often than not, you will come up with the idea that you were looking for.

The Power of the Individual

I’m rereading Game of Thrones right now and one thing that sticks out is the subservience of individuals to the family.

All throughout the stories, characters put the interests of their families about their own interests as individuals. Whether it is going to war, getting married, or giving away children so many individuals suffer for the good of the family.

It is common to hear people malign the breakdown of the extended family and communities, but a lot of the lost security and comfort comes with the benefit of individual freedom. We may not have the security of a large extended family to protect us, but we do have the freedom to pursue life for our own ends and we no longer have the obligation to sacrifice ourselves and our happiness for the future of the family.

This certainly comes with tradeoffs, but they are tradeoffs I am happy to accept.

Exercise Your Desires

There are some things in life that we are called to do. A special set of desires that we can’t get out of our minds year after year with a mysterious appeal for reasons that we struggle to wrap our heads around.

Whether it is writing a book, riding a bike across the country, starting a business, traveling to a certain country, or a million other options, these are the special type of desires that get stuck in our heads and no matter how much we argue against them, we can’t get the idea to go away.

Most people are afraid to pursue these desires and spend more time and energy fretting about if pursuing them is the right decision than they would spend if they simply took up the idea and ran with it.

They spend every weekday afternoon thinking longingly about quitting to write a book, wasting their productivity and not progressing, when they could simply spend that time writing a book.

They avoid responsibilities at work because they eventually want to quit and travel, so they don’t make career progress, but they never actually quit to travel.

Fulfilling these deep desires won’t make you as complete as you imagine beforehand, but simply acting on them, successfully or not, will make you free. It will remove the big “what if” question that plagues you day after day and allows you to move on with your life.