I was watching the movie, The Firm, with Tom Cruise the other night.

If you haven’t seen the movie, Cruise plays a highly sought after law school graduate being courted by high priced law firms with offers of money, cars, and perks of all kinds.

Sort of like the NFL draft looking for the best and brightest first round draft choice.

What Makes Someone That Valuable?

I can understand paying a CEO big bucks because they don’t reach that pinnacle of consideration without a proven history of success.

But someone just out of school? The ink on the diploma hasn’t dried yet and they’re offered six figures in salary and perks?

OK, you got good grades. Does that mean you’ll automatically be a great scientist, lawyer, engineer, computer programmer or mathematician?

Apparently it’s worth it to offer that kind of money for an unproven entity. And usually it’s a no cut contract for a specific length of time.

The value of the person is their potential. The growth of the individual. No lawyer wants to stay an associate. The real money is being a partner, to have your name on the door and the firm’s letterhead.

Or, down the road a judgeship or Supreme Court.

Can You Make Yourself More Valuable?

When you walk in the door each morning to go to work — it is something special? If it’s not, then why not?

Going to work everyday just to pay the bills for 50 years seems like a real waste. But millions of people do it.

If you’re going to be a professional athlete all it takes is about 20 minutes more each day than the other guy puts in for about 15 years or so.

It’s said that to master anything takes about 10,000 hours. Doing something for 8 hours a day would take a little less than four years to be better than most at something.

Doing it part time, four hours after work, would take almost 10 years.

It’s no accident that people say time is money. If you’re willing to put in the time you can have the money.

Four to six years of law school, seven to 10 years of medical practice, five years of writing computer code, six years working as an apprentice, or six to seven years of engineering school.

Being a good welder, car mechanic, carpenter, takes time and experience. No successful person I know of was able to shortcut the 10,000 hours.

Some Final Thoughts

The average life span of most people is mid to late 70s. The first 20 of those years you spend in school — absorbing dates and places.

You’ll probably spend another 15 years going from job to job gaining some work experience. Now you’re at 35 — Half your life span.

How valuable are you? Still wearing a name tag?

What've you learned that makes you valuable enough to move up the income ladder? Have you used your 10,000 hours wisely or do you have to start now?

If you have to start now you have little chance of mastering anything valuable before you’re 45-50.

That means you might have only 20 years to formulate some kind of retirement plan. There’s a good chance you’ll be working long after you sign up for Medicare.

Sit down and access where you are right now. It may be hour one for you or hour 9,999. I hope it’s the latter.

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