Monday, March 03, 2014

It’s not about the money ~ My column from Sunday's paper

There’s a game I play with Caillou (our collie) each evening when I step down to feed the deer some corn. I call it “fetch the can.” 

Unlike a tennis ball, the plastic can is too big to fit in his mouth. So when I toss it, he has to wrestle with it for a while to get his mouth around it. I should YouTube this sometime because it’s hilarious watching him.

But once the can is secure, he brings it to me. I’ve never rewarded him with a treat for this trick, but I always praise him profusely.

When he hears me say, “Good Boy, that’s a good boy,” his gait changes. He doesn’t trot back to me. It’s more of a prance and it looks as if he’s smiling. He will fetch that can until my arm’s tired.

For some reason, a quote by Khalil Gibran popped into my head tonight as we played: “There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.”

I think this explains why some of us do the work we do.

I’d say schoolteachers fall into this category. Anyone who thinks they get paid enough probably snorted too much art glue as a child.

I doubt soldiers, firemen or law enforcement professionals think of their motivation in terms of joy, but most of them would agree that they love their work. It’s likely their motivation comes from love of country and sense of duty. 

All I know is that money is not a motivator. Truth is, we probably couldn’t add enough zeros onto the end of a paycheck to properly compensate them for laying their lives on the line each day.

Some bosses believe that the way to make employees more productive and happy is to pay them more, but that old adage simply doesn’t work in real life.

Studies conducted during the last century confirmed that increased rewards rarely correlate to better performance or job satisfaction.

I’m a prime example of this. I had a well-paying job for years. I worked hard because that’s what I do, but getting higher wages didn’t make me happier. I longed for something more.

I love the work I’m doing now, but if I tallied all the hours I have spent writing columns, songs, marketing books, managing websites, writing newsletters, and playing music, the math would show that my wages compare to what workers made back during the Great Depression. 

This past week I got emails from a few readers of my column and they said the words resonated with them. I smiled like Caillou fetching the can.

Young songwriters approach Jilda and me asking about the music business. Many of them have heard stories about songwriters who’ve made a fortune writing songs. 

Jilda and I’ve had songs recorded by artists and enjoyed some success, but with all things considered, we didn’t make that much.

We tell young songwriters to write what they know and to write from the heart. 

But we point out that if they’re going into songwriting to make a killing, they might want to choose another field because like teachers, soldiers and writers, it’s not about the money. It’s about doing the work you love. 


  1. Brings to mind my favorite quote about why I loved teaching. It's from Confucius..."Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

  2. I completely agree, although money is needed it is never what makes us happy... we find out in time that time is what we really want... :)

  3. Unfortunately, I'm one of those who work to live and not live to work. I sometimes envy those who do something they really love. Maybe once I don't have two teenagers to feed, clothe and house, I can move in a different direction.....

  4. I've been in "not for the money" professions since the nineties. Personally satisfying, but I'm still in a "not for the money" job, for the money.

  5. I think many things need to be done from the heart.

  6. "A pleasure shared is a pleasure multiplied" may be trite, but it certainly works for me.

  7. Dear Rick, I so agree with you. Recently I read or saw on television an article about job satisfaction. In a survey--I think it was a Pew survey--workers said that rather than a raised they'd like to be respected, to be complimented for contributing to the success of the business for which they work, to be valued. Peace.

  8. Hi Rick,
    So true. Being paid (however paltry) for what you love to do is reward enough!

  9. If you're doing something you love, then it doesn't seem like work, more a reason for living.

  10. There's nothin' like a collie to get you thinking about loving what you do.



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