“Money earned ethically is a byproduct of value creation.”
I credit that quote to Joe Polish, although I don’t know if he’s the first who said it.
It is, however, generally true in my experience.
You can make money unethically through exploitation and coercion. But that is, in all reality, a relatively small portion of the amount of money that changes hands.
For example, do you feel like the last outfit you bought was exploitation and coercion? Or do you feel like you went to the store, picked out what you thought was a good outfit at a good price, and willingly spent your money on something where you knew what you were getting? With very few exceptions, that is the majority of commercial transactions — aka, money-earning.
The big question then becomes: how do you create more value?
If you want to move yourself up the income pyramid, and make more money, you have to look at ways to create more value in the world.
For this, I’m going to turn to Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels…
And show you how they mirror value-creation opportunities that you can apply yourself towards.
It’s been a while since I mentioned them, so here’s the list…
— Capability or Competence
As a quick refresher, the higher levels influence the lower, but not vice versa. That is, changing your beliefs will almost always lead to some changes in your behavior and environment, but not necessarily the other way around.
Now here’s something interesting.
The lower down your work or influence is, the less value you create. The higher you go into the Logical Levels, the more value you’ll create.
I’ll explain — starting from the bottom.
- Physical labor changes the environment and things in it, and is considered the lowest-level of value creation…
Note here: When I’m saying “value creation” I’m not inherently calling people who do physical labor, for example, invaluable people. Rather, I’m focusing specifically on economic or monetary value. That is, the amount of money a buyer is willing to pay for this kind of work.
Let’s look at common physical labor jobs. Manufacturing. Construction. Driving. Retail work. Food service. Answering phones. The vast majority of front-line work when it comes to creating or delivering products and services. Content writing and reporting.
These jobs usually start at minimum wage, and don’t go much higher.
Why? In many cases, it’s mostly because there’s very little leverage. That is, the value of a person’s work doesn’t extend much beyond the immediate work product. If you’re building houses, for example, you’re impacting the lives of one family at a time. Even though their house is important, your impact is hyper-local and limited, which also limits the total value it creates.
The other factor at play here, with even the more leveraged jobs, is that the barrier to entry is lower and so supply and demand are kept fairly-well equalized. That is, a writer who simply has to compile information (rather than introducing new thoughts) can usually be replaced fairly readily, so their desire to earn more is offset by someone else willing to come in and work for the same or less.
- Management changes behavior, and is one level up in terms of value creation…
The next level up in economic value creation is the class of workers best-termed “middle management.” That’s the group of people who are in charge of making sure the workers doing physical labor are following set policies and procedures.
In this role, their work is more leveraged, because getting a team to perform better has more of an impact that simply increasing your own personal performance. And yet, the value is also typically limited by the fact that in this role, you’re mostly doing what others tell you to do, following the directions, policies, and procedures they give you.
- Communicators change capability and competence, and are yet another level up in value creation…
Stepping up we get into the realm of most good (not great) writers and copywriters, as well as organizational leaders, good speakers, good salespeople, and more.
Communication is an ultra-valuable skill, because if you can change the capabilities, competence, and output of everyone who is managing behavior and working on things out in the environment, you have powerful leverage.
Many really-effective executives and leaders fall into this role. By managing the managers, they help an entire company or organization create more value, and increase in income and worth.
From a copywriting and marketing perspective, this is a powerful place to be, because you can influence your market to believe in new opportunities, and to adopt new behaviors, including taking you up on your offers.
And yet, this isn’t the highest-level value creation…
- Creative imagination shapes beliefs, identity, and spirituality, and leads to the greatest value creation…
Here I’ve lumped the top three levels of the Dilts’ Logical Levels together. A truly great, generational business leader will often impact their market at the level of identity, and even spirituality. (Just think of all the Apple fans out there, and their cult-ish reverence for the late Steve Jobs…)
And yet, you don’t have to go to quite those levels to create massive value.
Creative imagination is the skill of a great entrepreneur, category-designer, preeminent market leader, or any other visionary leader who creates a massive impact.
They look out into an imagined future, create a vision of some new reality they’d like to see created, and do the work to make that happen.
This often involves organizing ideas, people, and resources together, and getting them to work together in pursuit of this future goal.
This is the most leveraged area of value creation that is possible. Because this utilizes all the resources and value creation at all the other levels, in pursuit of a higher vision.
It’s often just one person’s creative imagination — and at most, usually a very small team — that is the spark that becomes a massive flame of change and value in the world.
Yes, others’ work is the fuel for the fire. Every employee who adds value contributes to the greater whole. But without a spark, a pile of wood remains a pile of wood. It’s only with that spark that it becomes a roaring inferno.
Here’s how you apply this…
When you’re thinking about the work you can do, you are most likely thinking about some combination of working on your environment, the behavior of those around you, or the capability and competence of a group.
Spend more time thinking about how you can create new beliefs, new identity, and even reach into new spiritual inspiration.
It’s in those moments that you will be creating the most value for others. When that comes to fruition, a higher income is inevitable.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,