But, I Paid My Dues!

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This man (Lloyd, assistant with a Stanford MBA) can quote from the entire stack [of movie scripts], that is what he is willing to put in for his own success. He’s paying his dues. When have you paid yours?- Ari Gold, Entourage

I don’t think often we are aware of when we are “paying our dues.”  When people make the claim that they’ve paid their dues, it smacks of self-entitlement.

As if something is owed to them because they did something they felt warranted whatever reward/promotion they sought.

No one owes you anything.

True, one should be aware of the value and contributions you bring to an organization, and not be afraid, tactfully to bring those to the attention of the powers that be, but generally, if your good, if you’ve got “it”, you will be recognized and elevated.

But not before someone believes you are.

Get that.  You present through actions, someone else decides that you have paid your dues (though you could decide to quit, I guess).

I like analogies, so here’s one.  You want to make varsity on your ______ team/squad, so you train, hard.  You miss out on dates, you miss out on family time, you have only one thing on your mind.  And when the time comes, you don’t make varsity.  You may think “But I did everything I was supposed to, I paid my dues!”

It doesn’t matter.  The coach, for whatever reason, didn’t believe you were ready.  You don’t decide when enough is enough (if you are choosing to work in an organization or firm).  You do evaluate your past moves, adjust where necessary, and persist towards your goal (this is fundamental in life, and in your career).

At 26 years old, I’m still in that “verge zone.”  And I enjoy it.  Along the way I’ve accumulated some great (at least learning) experiences.  Have I paid my dues?  I don’t know.  I do know I have made hard decisions concerning my career goals.  Where they the right ones?  Only time will tell.

Remember this: It’s not a matter of dues being paid, but of you becoming someone who is worthy of that next step.


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