Think & Grow Rich Lessons
Daniel Clark Bronx, New York, United States

Posted: 2016-03-30

“Just shut up and pay your dues”.

Oh me oh my.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard this command growing up.  And at no time did I ever feel motivated after hearing it, I just felt belittled, patronized, and frustrated.

In this chapter, Hill observes the following:

“This idea of starting at the bottom and working one’s way up may appear to be sound, but the major objection to it is this: too many of those who begin at the bottom never manage to lift their heads high enough to be seen by OPPORTUNITY, so they remain at the bottom.  It should be remembered also, that the outlook from the bottom is not so very bright or encouraging.  It has a tendency to kill off ambition.  We call it “getting into a rut,” which means that we accept our fate because we form the HABIT of daily routine, a habit that finally becomes so strong we cease to try to throw it off.  And that is another reason why it pays to start one or two steps above the bottom”.

To which I would add that when we stay this seemingly righteous course, the following happens:

You do your job as dictated, keeping your mouth shut, your ears open, never speaking unless spoken to, blah blah blah.  Weeks go by, they turn into months, which then turn into years, and all of the talents that you have had all that time are kept in a hibernation state of sorts.  Then if your skills do finally, somehow, someway catch the ear of the higher-ups, they reward you by saying “nice work, David!”  To which you would say “um- it’s um- Da-Daniel, suh-sir…”

The whole idea of starting at the bottom and working your way up, seems like a very conceded way of thinking to me.  Often, the ones who suggest it to you are the ones who think “well, I had it rough, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t also”.  In my lesson plan for chapter 3, I talked about the cable coordinator who never got to live his dream and became complacent in the mediocre job he had been stuck with.  Now, I did get to do a lot more than I expected to do with him, which I was happy for, but then, he began sending me over to another station in the next town over, run by a former head of NBC.  “Wow!” I thought.  “Now I’m really getting somewhere!”  Wrong.

For most of the time I was with that department, I did nothing but audio operation.  Now I had gone to college to learn about audio, as well as video, as well as editing, and writing, and many other aspects of broadcasting, even directing.  Heck, with my previous coordinator, I WAS doing all of those things.  This felt like a downgrade.  And when I asked my previous coordinator about it, he said that I pretty much had to earn this new coordinator’s trust, which could take a long time.

I thought to myself “I didn’t go to school for five years to put my skills on hold!  I want to use them, while I have the desire to do so”.  Ah, but what did I know at this time?  Surely these people know what they’re talking about because their resumes are bigger than mine.  So if they say that I have to wait a year, five years, or a lifetime before I can advance any further, then so be it I guess.  I began to “but, that’s cool…” my way through life around this time.  As in:

“I’m not allowed to advance just yet, but that’s cool, I’m paying my dues”


“They won’t hear me out, but that’s cool, they will when I’m their age, if I’m still here by then”


“I don’t feel like I’m where I should be in life, but that’s cool, I’ve got well-educated people telling me that it’s normal”

Which brings me to another bit of insight provided in this chapter where Hill remarks that:

“…college degrees are not valued more highly. They represent nothing but miscellaneous knowledge”.

This was shoved in my face time and time again just last year, when it seemed darn-near impossible to secure a job with any company that my skills would have been useful with, despite the fact that I had a college degree, with honors and accolades.  I actually had come to the conclusion that my college degree was seemingly nothing more than a piece of paper with fancy writing on it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am immensely proud of my college degree as well as all of the experiences that I had while in college: if you had told me a few years prior that I would be getting “A’s” in school for doing oral reports on Star Wars (for my film class) and Aerosmith (for my music appreciation class), I would’ve said “yeah, that would be nice”.  Well, that’s exactly what happened!  Ha ha ha!  However, by last year, it just felt like my degree, and my academic accomplishments meant one thing: absolutely nothing.  I felt like I was lied to, that I could’ve essentially spared myself the extra five years and just gotten a job right away, making the same pay as everyone else on the entry level.

I eventually did get a job, thanks to some help from a friend of mine, and it’s doing well by me for the time being, but now, like many of us, I want to take that next big step in my life.  Being a part of the Mentoring For Free community has taught me that I’m too gifted to be working at a dead end job, or at a job where there is little fulfillment either in financial needs or spiritual needs.   We deserve to be earning the riches that we seek, both moneywise and in life.  You deserve to work at earning an income that won’t simply involve “paying dues” but rather “paying YOUS” (that’s right; I said YOUS!) and very well at that!

Here’s to paying Yous!

~Daniel Clark