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No. 734 / On giving yourself a promotion

The goal of the firm is simple—more output. And how that output is measured is called productivity. Which means, the more you produce per minute, the more productive you are. So, if you want to elevate productivity, work harder with increased skill.

But what happens when the firm reaches its limit of skilled, productive workers? Well, usually the next step is to find people or systems that can do those same tasks but cheaper, faster. Which doesn’t bode well for you, does it? Especially when the firm invests in technology that replaces cheap workers altogether.

How did we get here? And how do we ensure that we don’t get stuck in this productivity trap—which inevitably leads to becoming replaceable?

1. Invent a new technology. Your values skyrockets if you’re the one that comes up with the next innovation.
Or (the simpler solution),
2. Figure out better things to work on. Make your own list, stop merely reacting to everyone else’s.

What if the very thing that separates the remarkable careers from the frustrated ones is to stop working on everyone else’s task list and start figuring out a more useful contribution, instead? Sure, in the short term, you might take a hit, and your ‘productivity’ will look like it’s suffering, but if you do choose to invest the time and effort now into a better direction, it’s likely you’ll find it.