“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Henry David Thoreau

In the grand, often bewildering bazaar of professional life, we all eventually stand at the crossroads—juggling the fiery torches of ambition, the rubber chickens of expectation, and the occasional bedazzled unicycle of opportunity. It’s a performance, a spectacle, and at the heart of it all lies a question so profound, it could very well be scribbled in ancient runes across the entrance to the Department of Labor: Are you the shining knight of expertise galloping into the fray, or are you… the bargain bin special?

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s an undeniable charm in being cost-effective.

I, myself, have often basked in the glow of a good deal, reveling in the sheer economic poetry of paying less for more. There’s a certain artistry to it, akin to finding a vintage wine at the price of a boxed white Zinfandel. But when it comes to the grand journey of your career, you’d rather be the Château Lafite Rothschild of your field, not the “Two-Buck Chuck.”

Being hired for your expertise is like being the guest of honor at a banquet where the main dish is trust, and the side dishes are opportunities to grow and shine brighter than a disco ball at a ’70s theme party. It’s a testament to your hard-won battles against the dragons of doubt and the hydra of hard work. You’re not just a name on a spreadsheet; you’re the go-to wizard, the Gandalf of your very own Middle Earth, minus the pesky orcs and the arduous journeys on foot.

On the flip side, being chosen for your affordability is akin to being picked last for dodgeball because you’re slightly less likely to trip over your own feet. Sure, you’re in the game, but the glory of victory feels a bit tarnished when you suspect your teammates are just grateful you didn’t cost them the match. It sets a precedent, a sort of low-bar limbo where the question isn’t “How high can you go?” but “How low can you stoop without grazing the ground?”

So, as you stand at the crossroads, juggling your aspirations and weighing your options, remember that the value you bring to the table isn’t just in the heft of your wallet but in the depth of your expertise.

Let your career be a gallery of masterpieces, not a clearance sale. After all, in the grand, ongoing show of life, wouldn’t you rather be the headliner than the understudy waiting in the wings?

And if ever you find yourself doubting, just remember: the world is full of Two-Buck Chucks, but there’s only one you. Now, go forth and sparkle with the expensive, ineffable brilliance of a well-aged expertise.

The standing ovation at the end of this particular performance? It’s all yours.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.