Raising the Bridge

In a recent post (Raise the Bridge or Lower the Water?) I referenced the fact that financial independence involves raising the bridge (increasing income) and/or lowering the water (decreasing expenses). And, the fact that we can get there by taking either approach, but the path is MUCH shorter if we work it from both ends.

Since the prior post “began” coverage of lowering the water, we’ll now “begin” to cover raising the bridge (increasing income).

A key factor in raising our income is, well, doing MORE and being MORE than we are paid for. Said another way, we need to grow in, and then out of, our job! If we choose to do ONLY what we are paid for, then we are being paid for all we are worth, aren’t we? How can we expect a raise or promotion if we are ONLY doing what we are paid for? We haven’t shown any ability or motivation to get to that next level.

I’ll never forget a meeting I had with an employee, in which I asked her “Where do you want to be in 3-5 years?” She quickly and enthusiastically responded with “I want your job! What will it take to get there?” That was the best answer I could have hoped for, because if there wasn’t someone lining up to take my job then – I’d be stuck. I’d be stuck doing the same job with only “incremental” raises that come with that position / level in the company. I hate being stuck! Instead, I was able to leave that position in good hands  (in a relatively short period of time) and obtain a significant raise with broader responsibilities (because I too, had become bigger than my job).

So, the question: How do I go about growing in, and then out of, my job?

In addition to doing more than we are paid to do, on the job, we need to invest in ourselves, off the job.

A guideline I’ve heard is we should invest 3% of our income in our own personal development. The medium can include: books, audio programs (a car becomes a “university on wheels”), seminars and training programs. Most companies will pay for “some” of these. We just need to ask (and push). When an employer won’t cover the costs, we can pay for it out-of-pocket. It is our future, so we can’t use the excuse of “my employer won’t pay for this.” Another option is to find a new employer who WILL pay for continuing education. We do have a choice!

Certainly domain knowledge and expertise is important. But, are these the only factors? Absolutely not. My experience jives with the following quote:

I will pay more for the ability to deal with people before any other ability under the sun.” ~ John D. Rockefeller

There are numerous resources to develop interpersonal skills. The absolute highest recommendation I can make on this topic is that we must each read, re-read and re-re-read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.


If you really want to take things to the next level attend a seminar on the topic. Again, your employer may pay for this, but if they won’t; go for it (out-of-pocket). Be Brave!

In future posts I will cover other approaches and key skills that are crucial to raising the bridge (increasing your income).

Note: I am in no way affiliated with “any” training or personal development firm and therefore reap no benefit by you attending, other than making the world a better place 🙂 I am making this training recommendation simply because it is an extremely powerful tool to catapult you in your career!

6 thoughts on “Raising the Bridge

  1. beaverfood says:

    Good points!

  2. Bill C says:

    Great post! Sharing this on FB.

  3. […] Interpersonal – The ability to work effectively with other people. […]

  4. […] as a country, we can do more (better) than handing out free money: We can teach people how to “raise the bridge” (earn a living and increase one’s income) AND “lower the water” (decrease […]

  5. […] Interpersonal Management – To define and manage a project requires that you effectively engage and interact with others. I once checked a reference on a PM candidate I was considering. His prior boss said: “This guy is an outstanding PM. He will definitely get the job done. The ONLY issue is that he will leave behind a scorched earth.” I didn’t hire this guy. I want someone with the skills to build relationships to get this (and the next) project done in a way that everyone feels good about; not run over and/or completely burned out by. […]

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