I HAVE A 20-YEAR BET going with my friend Sandy from way back in the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center days. We each bet that we will out-earn each other following our respective life/career philosophy.
We each begin in more or less the same place. Start working at St. Joseph’s Hospital at the same time. Our salaries are roughly the same. Our organizational “rank” is about the same. Both of us have a nuclear family of four – older daughter and younger son.
Sandy’s thesis is: Stay in the same place. Keep the same job through thick and thin. Earn annual cost of living increases. Learn things through professional conferences. Seek advancement within the same organization.
Patrick’s thesis is: Move a lot. Make more money because the next job pays better than the old. Learn by doing. Get promotions by obtaining more responsibility in the next job.
For quite awhile I am out ahead. Occasionally Sandy catches up and then I leap forward with my next move, swamping her incremental gains at St. Joe’s. Sandy gets promotions. Eventually attaining a very senior position reporting directly to the CEO.
Patrick and his long suffering family live in lots of interesting places and we all have lots of interesting experiences. Spouse completes a bachelor degree on tuition remission. Number one child completes a bachelor degree almost tuition free. I’m in the right place at the right time so far as my choice of nonprofits is concerned.
Even with these advantages Sandy is steadily catching up. And the coup de gras most definitely comes when Patrick stumbles in his philosophy. We end up living in the same place for 11 years and nobody in the family wants to move somewhere else. The Sandy philosophy wins (the bet) because it is sustainable.
Oddly enough, I know Sandy will vigorously defend my approach at the same time that I am vigorously defending hers. I admire her steadfastness and consistency. She admires my adventuresome spirit.
Which one of us is “right?” In many ways I would argue that I really haven’t had a lot of choice in the matter. Both of us have gotten the calls from the headhunters. But for me, moving really is important to my learning my trade. At SJRMC I make a decision that I want to be a development professional but where am I going to learn how to do the job?
Still, I don’t want to take anything away from Sandy’s triumph. Starting out I believed Sandy would do better if she followed my prescription. Now I know she has done the right thing by following her heart. And I have done the right thing by following mine.