Performance. Skills. Salary. Excellence.

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Some people get paid to do what they’re great at doing, some don’t. Getting paid doesn’t mean the best performance. The thing can be whatever: singing, speaking, teaching, blogging, marketing, managing, etc. Here’s the random thing I’m thinking about this Saturday.

How does excellence in performace stack up against one’s skills and paid status? I drew up this diagram to illustrate– those who are gifted (by an act of God or some other metaphysical explanation of your worldview) will always perform better than the best paid professional. This means the gifted have an innate advantage to performance greatness. No amount of money can buy that.

Most professionals will do better than an amateur, because they’re getting more time to hone their skills and performance. The unpaid amateur doesn’t get as much time to get better at what they love to do.

Some are passionate about doing something, but don’t get paid for it- reasons vary. In an ideal world, people should get paid for their passion and skills; in a market-driven economy, money is more a factor of market conditions. Some amateurs are no good at what they do but they sure love doing it. No point bursting their bubble.
What other corollaries or insights do you get from this chart?

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3 Responses

  1. I am in agreement with you and your diagram. It seems to me that’s the way it is when it comes to salary and skill. Isn’t it sad that the most gifted people tend to get the short stick when it comes to getting paid? Hopefully, though, you and I aren’t totally right, and there are some people out there that get paid truckloads for what they’re exceptional at.

  2. Fred Mok says:

    The market compensates the gifted. Lebron James is a professional AND a tremendously gifted athlete. You can’t find a non-professional athlete superior to any NBA player. Markets are fairly efficient. In fact, I would argue most professionals are gifted. Where the market is inefficient is in instances, as you mentioned, like singing or certain athletic pursuits as the film/book Moneyball demonstrates. What makes life interesting, is when an inefficiency is exposed, like a Susan Boyle. She was never previously successful because the market values things like appearance and style but in terms of raw performance, wow.

  3. djchuang says:

    Hey Fred, thanks for your comments. You’ve described how the market should work when it is efficient vs. inefficient.

    I think what I have noticed is that the market doesn’t always pay the highest compensation to the most gifted. So the highest paid basketball player is not necessarily the most talented and most gifted. Another way to say it is: one cannot look at someone’s salary/compensation as a measure of one’s giftedness.

    I would also add that someone can develop one’s skills and exert tremendous effort at becoming the best s/he can be, but all that effort will probably not exceed the skills of someone who is innately gifted in that area of skills.

    And, the market tends to reward based on its values rather than based on giftedness — many gifted artists are not rewarded by the market, the best preachers do not get the most compensation.

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