A boat on a river
Table of contents
There is an interesting chain reaction happening in the world that affects us all - rapidly advancing science causes rapid development of technology. Businesses that follow and apply the latest scientific discoveries to their technological processes are more competitive and successful on the market compared to the ones that don't (and which eventually disappear from the market). Now, those successful businesses need employees that can keep up with that advancement. This is the reason why employees who constantly invest in their knowledge are more interesting to business owners and get better job offers.
Why we work?
Most people will say the answer is pretty obvious - to earn money. With money, we can buy things we like and pay for the services we need. But, for some people, money is not the only driving motivation for work. For example, people like Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, and some others, did their work because they were passionate about it and they really enjoyed doing it. I believe there are probably even more reasons to work. Some of us don't even like to go to work, but we have to because we need money. And, if we have to go to work every day, it would be good to try and maximize our profit in return. In other words, if we have to spend the third of our lifetime on work, wouldn't we like that time to be spent profitably and earn a lot of money in return?
Why we improve?
Given that the profit equals the salary minus the amount of our effort invested in work, we could increase the profit in two ways: 1) by increasing the salary or 2) decreasing the amount of effort invested.
Some of us tend to follow the reasoning like "they can't pay me low enough as much as I can lower my efforts at work". But, sooner or later, those kinds of people end up being rejected not just by employers, but also by their colleagues, usually because it becomes difficult to accept a person willing to take something for granted without giving something in return. Especially if one tries to imagine having their own company working with such an employee, those kinds of rejections quickly emerge. So, if we choose to try and maximize our salary, to make a good use of those 8 hours we spend at work every day, we need our services to have a bigger value in order to sell them for a bigger price. The more skills we have and the more advanced they get, the more valuable and expensive our services are. Eventually, our 8 hours a day can be utilized in a very profitable way.
Why we improve constantly?
Once we achieve the desired price for our services (salary), why don't we stop improving? Is it because of our greed to earn even more money? Maybe. But for me, it was something else.
"Which way is the right way...?"
There is an analogy I discovered a while ago when I was thinking about this topic and it felt like a good example that could help us understand the need for the constant improvement in our lives. Imagine yourself sitting in a small boat on a river, heading up against the river stream. If you don't paddle at all, the river will take you back eventually, so you always need to paddle at least a little, just in order to stay at the same spot. It takes even more paddling to advance up the river, and when you take a break, the river will slow you down and eventually start dragging you back. The river represents all the people around us advancing in their life, due to the technological and business advancements, caused by the scientific discoveries. If we don't improve ourselves, given that the others are improving themselves, we’ll eventually end up being pushed back. We have to improve constantly at least a little bit, just in order to stay where we are at this moment. And, it takes even more paddling to get us to the point where we want to be.
Why we choose not to improve?
But, not all the people accept the fact they need to change. Some people are too rigid to change until they are really forced to. An example of such people is the older generation of the population which comes from times when things didn't evolve this fast and where they could spend their entire career in one company, doing one job, not having to improve at all. So, now, they might feel a bit of inertia holding them back and preventing them from introducing any radical changes in their lives, unless they really have to, like when there is a potential threat of losing their job.
Other people are simply ignorant of the fact they need to improve. For example, the explosion of social networks made some of us addicted to "likes" and "notifications" as a form of instant gratification, which makes us feel wanted and popular. This feeling is so powerful and goes as far as becoming an addiction. One example of such an addiction is the case where people were renting a luxurious airplane, just to take photos of themselves inside the plane, in order to show the others how they enjoy their life, which was usually far less luxurious instead.
"Isn't life great?"
With such addictions in place, we usually fail to see our actions are dopamine-based and short-termed. Over time, we get used to only valuing the short-term shots of happiness and we become unable to endorse any long-term concepts, like a constant improvement, due to the feeling we don't have time for that because there is always something more interesting to do instead. Unfortunately, these addictions usually lead to very serious issues, which eventually prevent a person from having a normal and happy life.
Adding to that the fact that today we are surrounded by so many free and easily available internet resources, from which we can learn something new, we might easily get an impression that we don't really need to make so much effort to improve, when a lot of easily accessible knowledge is in abundance around us and we can use it when we really need to. But, once we get to the point where we need to improve, we begin to realize how hard and time consuming it actually is. At that point, some of us find it easier to blame everyone else for our own failures, rather than ourselves.
In all these cases, it's far more helpful to accept the fact that we need to improve, instead of wasting our time justifying our lack of improvement.
Will we improve?
I honestly hope that the majority of people today, who don't improve constantly, are probably unaware of that science-technology-business chain reaction and as soon as they realize it, they might start changing. We can, of course, choose not to improve and still be happy, but there will always be that feeling of stagnation in life, where everybody else around us is advancing and we are just passively looking. At the end of the day, we all have our way of life, but if you ask me, I’d rather choose my path in life, instead of letting the river decide that for me.
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