- Roy H. Williams
"Every life has a scoreboard and how you choose to keep score is up to you."
- Roy H. Williams (yeah, same dude)
Has your life been auctioned off to the highest bidder? And what if you had a competing bid denominated in non-$ currency? Time, for instance? Or fulfillment?
It's a fact that the majority of Americans (I'm not sure if similar studies have also been done in other nations) feel more strongly about loss than about gain. Also true: fear is a greater motivator than reward. So if presented with the exact same opportunity, but from different perspectives, people will be far likelier to choose one specific scenario over the other [again, even though the payoff is exactly the same], yet make a different choice when the tables are turned. Here's an example:
You make $5,000 a year at your teaching job. You are offered $7,500 a year as an accountant, due to a sudden shortage of accountants. You know you would not enjoy the accounting job at all, that it would require far more hours per week and weeks per year (only 2 weeks vacation? PER YEAR? Are you kidding?), and that it would require a 1 hour and 40 minute round trip commute each day, instead of the 10 minute drive to the school. And you love teaching.
But you would be increasing your salary by 50%! What would you hypothetically choose?
Teaching. Not everyone would stick with teaching instead of going to accounting, but under this scenario, the majority would.
Now let's reverse it. You make $7,500 a year as an accountant. You don't enjoy it at all, the hours are long, and the commute is bad. An administrator friend offers you a position as a teacher, due to a sudden shortage of teachers, and knowing that you've always wanted to be a teacher. But it only pays $5,000 a year. Do you take it?
For most people, the answer would be no. They would feel that they could not afford to take such a large income hit, even though they'd love to do it and the quality of life would be far better - not to mention the summers, spring breaks, and winter breaks at home with the kids.
To be sure, a good deal of the decision comes down to sticking with what you know, being a typically risk-averse human. But if you would make the decision to stay a teacher, due to the high value of the non-$ currency that goes with that sale of your life, why would you stay with accounting for merely extra $ with none of the non-$ currency offered by the teaching profession? Is your life really valued in $ and nothing else? If so, then it can have a concrete value assigned to it (pathetic and disheartening, yet still true). But if not, if it can only be properly valued with a combination of $ AND intangibles, then it could be argued that its value is immeasurable (ask any accountant how impossible it is to value "intangibles" for accounting valuations).
For all the talk about how under-valued teachers are, I think we don't consider the most critical part of the valuation process. We only account for the $ value of teachers, since that's what we most readily understand and assess. But the non-monetary value to society, to the kids, to the family of the teacher, and most of all, to the teacher her/himself, is priceless.