Picture yourself in this scenario: You are at work sitting around a conference table with the CEO (or some other high level manager) and a few of your coworkers. You are discussing something that will literally make or break the company. Make the right decision and your company flourishes. Make the wrong one and, well, you might be passing around your resume.
Aside from the CEO/manager, there is one person in that room that makes the most money – let’s say around $20,000 MORE than the others in the room.
After two hours discussing ideas, the CEO/manager pulls one of you into his office. He says, “Bill/Sally, I respect your opinion more than any other in this office. You heard all the ideas. You know what is at stake. What do we do?”
Understand that the person who was pulled into that office was NOT the person who makes the most money from that meeting.
Now, it’s question time: Who would you rather be? Would you rather be the person who makes the most money, but may not be as highly respected, or would you rather be that person whom the CEO/Manager respects and values more than anyone else in your office?
According to several studies, like this one, most people value respect more than pay. That is, in this scenario, most would rather be that person who gets pulled into that office and asked to help make a decision with profound consequences for the company.
To me, this is a double-edged sword. I, like many of my readers, have prioritized retirement. In five to seven years, you and I will probably be retired. Long careers are no longer desired. If early retirement is your game, then maximizing your income and saving as much as possible during your working years is critical to meet your goals.
If I dreamed of retiring at 60 – like most Americans, I think this question would be quite easy to answer – I want respect. I want to be the person who helps make critical decisions because I know what that experience is preparing me for (like that Director-level job that I quit last year). That could turn out to be the single best (and most lucrative) opportunity that you may ever get at the office.
But then again, retiring in five years also means that I need to save as much as possible while I am still working, and the more I make, the more I save. Maybe that highly paid person in that meeting is years closer to financial independence than the highly respected person. Is that more beneficial?
What say you? If you were in that meeting, would you rather be the highly paid, or more highly respected, person?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.