Paying Your Dues — Fact or Crap?

Ever have someone lecture you about paying your dues?

It’s remarkable how often “you need to pay your dues” really translates into, “I had to go through hell, so I’ll be damned if you get off scott free.”

Think about the antiquated system of rotations for doctors, where people are required to work 36 hour straight, even though the effects of sleep deprivation towards the end of the shift are probably worse than being drunk. We would never tolerate doctors swigging tequila straight from the bottle before performing surgery, so why the heck should we tolerate what is essentially a hazing system to cause needless deaths?

On the other hand, CEOs and top executives regularly make critical business decisions without having seen an actual customer using their product in years, possibly decades!

We all have to pay our dues in the sense that we need to invest the hard work it takes to truly understand the issues. But paying your dues isn’t something that you do once when you’re young, and then get a free pass on for the rest of your life. Paying your dues is a continuous process that applies to everyone. We should all be paying our dues every single day.

(Originally posted as a comment on Penelope’s blog.)

P.S. Sorry for the light posting–things have been extremely busy!

10 thoughts on “Paying Your Dues — Fact or Crap?

  1. I don’t buy into the fact that you have to pay your dues. And I agree with you that once you have you aren’t given a free pass.

    I find that people who suggest that I pay my dues are often those who see success coming my way apparently at less of a price then they had to pay.

    I also think it’s an interesting way to marginalize points of view, contributions or even opportunities that could be very rewarding.

    Thankfully, for example, investors don’t ALWAYS demand that a CEO has a successful start-up under their belt to start a new company.

  2. There is a bit of jealousy and other ancient human motivations behind the idea of “paying dues”.

    And a bit of regret: if you see someone who’s clearly much younger than you and much more successful than you, you’re going to regard it as reflecting badly on you. My mom always said that when Clinton was elected, she was annoyed: it meant that she was not likely to be President someday, because Clinton was younger than she was (and was the first president who was.)

  3. The funny thing is, when I see how incredibly successful my younger friends are, my reaction isn’t “They should have to pay their dues,” it’s “Curse my parents for giving birth to me 10 years too early!”

  4. Justin K

    Just read that Scoble is using UStream. That’s awesome news!

  5. James Haverfield

    I agree with your statement of paying your dues. It is something that everybody whould do at least once in their lives. In our present day many people are clouted by jealousy and greed. Multiple facets of their daily actions display that and, slowly but surely, our standards of honor and dingnity are lowering. Now it has come to an almost desparate situation.

    Paying your dues is an action associated with the very honor and dignity that is so horribly lacking in our society. It is an act done with the highest sense of morals.Paying your dues should not be something that is done to take advantage of others. Paying your dues is a sign of a person’s level of sophistication. Those with a secure sense of themselves and of thier own lives are the people who most often pay their dues. Then of course there are the people who may have financial and personal difficulties but still manage to pay their dues.

    In the sense of paying your dues “manage” is not a word one should ever use. As human beings (I agree with Chris) we must all pay our dues. Firstly, it is a symbol like no other of our humanity as an individual in this world. Second, I believe that everything has a balance. “Give before you take.”

  6. Sometimes people say “you need to pay your dues” as a kind of shut-down — you know, a “shut up, kid” kind of thing. But it’s often reflects a vague sense that the person isn’t aware of the world around him, isn’t listening and watching before speaking. For me, it’s not about age or even experience. It’s about attitude.

  7. Lynda Marsh

    Paying your dues is having a sense of justice. I agree that everybody should pay their dues from time to time. Excellent blog, Chris.

  8. Carey Spears

    I am very fond of reading your blog. I too believe in capitalism. As for paying your dues, I believe that it is something that everybody should do. Good luck with your further adventures!

  9. Glad you liked the post, guys!

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