Would you pay a premium tax (toll) to get out of rush hour traffic?
The traffic is so bad in Austin, Texas that the town has finally decided to do something about it – they’re building a new lane in each direction. Here’s the catch: It’s a toll lane. But not just any toll lane, it’s a toll lane that changes its rates. The rates, however, aren’t based on day of the week or time of the day, but rather on the average speed in the ‘express’ toll lane.
It took me a second to figure this one out, but the price goes up when the average speed drops below 50 mph.
Chew on that for a second. The slower this new exclusive lane goes, the more it costs to get in it. In economic terms it’s called peak-load pricing and it got me thinking – what other things are priced that way? What other areas of our finances do we trade money for time so that others (those who don’t pay anything) get a better experience (in this case less traffic in the ‘free’ lanes)?
What this means is important: A tool more often used becomes more valuable.
I’m reading a book called Talent is Overrated. It describes a concept I’ve understood more and more as I’ve aged. The idea called “talent” means little when compared to another factor: time perfecting the job.
Notice I didn’t say “time on the job.” That’s seniority, which is irrelevant. You can sit and bullshit while being paid for thirty years and learn zippo at your chosen career. As you spend time actually honing your skills you improve. Talent is what brings you to the task….it’s more fittingly thought of as “aptitude.” Because you enjoy a particular activity, you’re more willing to spend the time it’ll take to practice. Want to be a better golfer? Practice golf perfectly for a few hours a day. Want to write better? Read and practice writing activities to create perfect sentences and paragraphs. Soon you’ll be among the best. That guy whacking a bucket of balls? He’s wasting his time. The woman churning out another crappy blog post on how to make your own computer from tractor parts? It’ll be as bad as the one on why you don’t need to hire an electrician.
When it comes to your main breadwinning activities, spend your time wisely honing your skills. When it comes to everything else, like riding down the highway, trade money for time, but only if this time will be used to practice more. The sooner you tackle your unique ability, the more your wallet is going to thank you. Soon you will find, that like Austin expressways, your fees are going up because your skills are being used more frequently.