Paying your dues

A couple of conversations I had lately came together for me.

I had a discussion this week with a friend about baseball.  Actually, I was doing a lot of carping about how the best paid players for the Chicago Cubs, were having awful years.  From Alfanso Soriano to Carlos Zambrano to Milton Bradley, those big contracts haven’t been working out as incentives.  This week we heard about Carlos Zambrano admit to being too lazy to do the abdominal exercises to strengthen his back. Alfanso Soriano is having problems catching balls in the outfield, is hitting below .245 and can’t seem to run out a ground ball to first, yet is still collecting on his 8 year $136 million dollar contract.

Now I am not the fastest runner in the world, but if you were to pay me almost $105,ooo per game, I would happily run my hardest to the first base bag.  Yet on the same team, we have Ryan Theriot, a shortstop who makes $500,000 for the year, leading the team in hitting right around .300 and doing whatever the team needs him to do; sacrifice, steal a base or hit and run.

The second conversation with another friend had to do with a mutual friend who was offered a job that included base pay plus an incentive bonus program based upon the work done by his team.  Executive level job, tough job market, sexy company. But our friend was upset that his base pay was the same as the base pay of those that reported to him.

It seems that some of the folks caught up in these conflicts are laboring under the idea that they have paid their dues and are now somehow above performance evaluation.  Baseball in general has long paid for past performance with no review.  Remember Mike Hampton, hailed as the second coming of Cy Young, who was awarded an 8 year $121,000,000 contract in 2001 and has had a record of 56 wins and 52 losses over the 8 years. Not a real good investment, if you ask me.

If you get a chance, go see a minor league baseball game. Sure the skillsets of the players are not at major league levels, but watch them hustle.  Watch them listen to the coaches.  Strangely, you don’t see as many baserunning mistakes as you do in the majors.  The key fact is that the players are looking for any way to get noticed and perhaps find themselves playing with a major league club. The best way to do that is to perform, listen to the coaches and improve.

My friend needs to not worry about base salary.  If his team does well and the incentives are created with care, he will be remunerated well.

My advice to everyone is not to rest on their laurels.  Play every day as if it counted in the standings and worry less about having paid your dues.  You will do a better job every time by concentrating on the job ahead of you rather than the dues behind you.

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