Thursday, March 17, 2011

Low Expectations

I once heard about a study, which I unfortunately cannot site, in which two job ads were posted. They were completely identical except that one said that they job paid $30,000 per year and the other said that the job paid $70,000 per year. Which one got more responses? The job that paid less got far more responses than the job that paid more. Why? Because people have an idea of what they are worth. If you think of yourself as a $30,000/year person, you won't apply for the $70K job. It's clearly not for you.

America was once the land of opportunity, and it still is, but the current generation has been led to believe that opportunity is no longer available for common people. Either you get lucky and strike it rich or you will be doomed to struggle your entire life. The third option, the path which most successful people have taken to get to success, that of working hard and working smart to get where they want to go, is seen as a non-starter for most people.

This concept is, of course, extremely relevant to my current line of work. American Income is one of those opportunities that, for the right person, will allow them to climb from wherever they are to wherever they want to be. It's not easy. It's not for everyone, and it doesn't hand you success on a silver platter, but it does provide the opportunity.

The problem for me is that most people I meet do not see themselves as people who will ever be successful. If I tell them that they could be making $100,000 per year within two years, they will assume that either the position is not one that they can succeed at or that it is some kind of scam. They would rather work an hourly position for $9.25/hour for the rest of their lives than take a commission position where they can earn what they are worth. This makes sense if they think they are only worth $9.25. Thus, we are in the peculiar position of having to undersell the opportunity to make it sound more believable.

The tragedy is that parents are teaching their children to settle. I don't know if they are trying to protect them from disappointment or simply justify their own failure, but they are hobbling their children by teaching them that they are what they are born as and should never expect anything more, and, worst of all, that anyone who tries to show them better is clearly trying to take advantage of them.

America is more the land of opportunity than it has ever been, if only you are willing to step up and seize that opportunity.

1 comment:

  1. Can a person experience failure if they never had an actionable goal to begin with? How about if they want other people to see them as successful, but they haven’t yet nailed down any specifics? I’ve met many people who have said, earnestly enough, that they want to be “famous” or “rich” or “make history” but when they’re asked “by doing what?” they draw a total blank. How strange! Surely doing useful things comes first, while pay and admiration often (but not always) follow as a consequence. It seems like a lot of people in our culture have missed this point. How it escaped them is an open question.

    On another note, I wonder if you’re looking at low risk tolerance more than low expectations. A bird in the hand and all that. I bet folk’s job searches rev into high gear once that $9.25/hr is yanked away. At least I know mine would… that is, hypothetically, of course… ahem.