David Heinemeier Hansson

June 15, 2023

Acting your wage will atrophy your abilities

Abilities unused will atrophy, so putting in anything less than your best means giving up on what you’re capable of. You can’t save talent or energy for better days, only watch it go to waste. This is a hard truth to accept if you don’t think your company has earned your best.

And companies make employees feel like that all the time. This is part of what drives the whole “act your wage” rebellion. Why should you put in your best if work never seems to return the favor? It’s a perfectly human response of spite in the face of unfairness, but you can’t avenge your grievances by squandering your potential.

The years will wash away quickly. If you wait for the perfect company to reveal your peak potential, it may never come. Or by the time it does come, you’re not ready, because you’re no longer who you were. You let it slip. That’s a tragedy.

Whatever the situation, whatever the company, you should show up with your very best. Not for them, but for you. Use the discontent to become better, then bolt to another camp when the opportunity presents itself.

Besides, you’ll appreciate a good place so much more if you’ve made it through some bad places.

Don’t play yourself by living down to their expectations. Show yourself the path out by shining bright whatever the weather.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.