As I See It: Can We Have More, Sir?
November 4, 2013 Victor Rozek
Of all the relationships we have, few will ever be as demanding, tumultuous, frustrating, worrisome, aggravating, and full of unrequited longing as our relationship with money. Money is a stern and demanding mistress. It leaves you spent and always wanting more. We chase it for a lifetime, but only ever catch enough to continue the chase. And those who catch more than their share, run even harder. It’s a primal force, an elemental attractor, and everyone would love to test the notion that money can’t buy happiness.
In that regard, IT professionals appear to have a leg up in the money-chasing marathon. Negotiating advantage has shifted to employees. The competition for talent is high. Information technology powers the planet and, if the world were a publicly-traded corporation, IT would be the majority shareholder. Jobs are plentiful and predicted to rise. Developing the next generation of mobile apps alone accounts for a half-million jobs. By the end of the decade, IT employment is expected to have grown by nearly 25 percent.
If you live in, say, Nebraska, you’re probably not making crazy money, but if you work in Silicon Valley, you probably are. According to Business Insider, the national average for software developers is $89,000. Software engineers pull in $94,000 and senior software engineers command about $98,000. But, as they say in real estate, it’s all about location. In Silicon Valley that same senior engineer starts out at $165,000. Across the board, IT professionals can increase their income by $50,000 to $77,000 just by relocating. And that doesn’t include top management salaries which have so many zeros they resemble video game numbers.
And, speaking of real estate, the money raining down on Silicon Valley’s workforce has revived a dormant housing market. Earlier this year, Zillow reported that real estate values in 34 of 185 ZIP codes in five Bay Area counties equaled or surpassed their bubble-era highs. Homes are once again selling above the asking price. The rush is on and the IT community is leading the charge. Portions of San Francisco have practically been annexed by Silicon Valley professionals. Up and down the peninsula high-end properties are being snatched up by people who can well afford fat mortgage payments.
And that ability is projected to strengthen in 2014. A national salary survey conducted by Robert Half, a $4 billion staffing firm in Menlo Park, forecasts sunny skies followed by money showers. While, on average, mere mortals can expect a modest 3.7 percent bump in salary next year, IT professionals will be banking an extra 7 to 8 percent. Programmers/Analysts, Data Architects, Business Intelligence Analysts, User Experience Designers, Software Engineers/Developers, and Mobile App Developers can all expect increases in that range. Technical Engineers are expected to top out with a tidy 8.4 percent boost. In particular, the financial sector, healthcare, and the out-of-control surveillance state (in which you, too, can experience the guilty pleasures of bugging Angela Merkel’s cellphone) will be arm-wrestling for talent, tossing money at anyone with high skills and low regard for privacy.
On the face of it, one would think that these were heady times for IT professionals. The industry is fat, happy, and in demand. If the wolf ever comes to the door again, it’s likely to be a door made of some exotic Brazilian hardwood. Tough times are receding in the rear view mirror, the cash is flowing, and everyone is breathing a little easier. As Woody Allen said, “money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”
But getting money is like taking aspirin: it offers only temporary relief. And having it doesn’t necessarily assuage the assortment of anxieties associated with not having enough. Like a mountain that makes its own weather, money creates its own anxieties.
Our relationship to money is largely determined by our beliefs about money. Usually, these beliefs are learned as children in our family system, and are held subconsciously. Certainly, someone from a very wealthy family where money was abundant will adopt a different set of beliefs than someone whose family struggled to make ends meet – just as people who lived through the Great Depression tend to save more than those who never knew privation.
In IT parlance, people interface with the world through their beliefs. About 4 billion bits of information assault the nervous system every second. But only 2 kilobits are actually processed. Beliefs act as filters that determine what’s important; what to let in and what can be ignored. Some beliefs serve as resources (I’m worthy of having what I want), while others limit us (I don’t know how to create wealth). When it comes to producing and/or acquiring money, people generally do as well or as poorly as their beliefs allow.
Because most beliefs are entrenched, we look for evidence to support conclusions already reached. If I hold a negative frame about money, i.e. “Money is hard to earn,” I’ll gravitate toward jobs and investments which will validate that belief. And, because beliefs drive behavior, if earning money should become too easy, I’ll sabotage to make it difficult again.
Some of the most commonly held limiting beliefs about money include:
There are dozens more, all of which impair our ability to tolerate affluence. Although holding a limiting belief doesn’t prevent someone from getting a raise, it will almost certainly be a small one and they’ll be prone to languish at the bottom of their salary scale.
Holding limiting beliefs guarantees two things. First, they will suck the enjoyment out of having however much money is available. The anxieties resident in those beliefs will overwhelm whatever joy money may bring. Second, they will slow–or halt–career advancement because the discomfort and incongruity of having money will increase with every promotion until it becomes intolerable, or until the belief changes.
The late, incisive George Carlin said: “It’s about what you’ll do for a dollar, and what you’ll do with a dollar.” But that depends on what you believe about a dollar. According to projections, this coming year IT professionals will be given an opportunity to test their relationship to money. It’s a boom time. Careers will flourish; some fortunes will be made. Prosperity is there for the taking. But whether we enter a period of great possibility with excitement and gratitude, or anxiety and unease, is a matter of individual imprinting.
Attitudes toward money are complex and varied. Some cheat to get it, others steal, still others kill. Most work for it, fret over it, and never seem to have enough. Coco Chanel had a very enlightened viewpoint on the subject. “There are people who have money and people who are rich,” she said.
It’s good to understand the difference.