Lost in Space: Do This Before Making Demands at Work

Lost in Space: Do This Before Making Demands at Work

Lost in Space

Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Ground Control to Major Tom (ten, nine, eight, seven, six)
Commencing countdown, engines on (five, four, three)
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you (two, one, liftoff)

David Bowie, Space Oddity

Now comes Richard Branson who, through his company Virgin Galactic, plans to send 1,500 tourists into space every year starting in 2023. According to a filing with the SEC, Virgin Galactic will have five spacecraft operating, each with six passengers and two crew members. The flights will climb fifty miles above the earth’s surface, the point at which both NASA and Air Force pilots earn their astronaut wings. The trip will offer several minutes of weightlessness and views of the earth’s curvature. Almost 700 people have signed up to ride so far. The price? $250,000 each.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos plan to offer competing space tourism experiences. It could get crowded up there, like the lines at the top of Mount Everest. Bigger picture still, in a related article, Bezos “Wants to Migrate Humanity to Space.” If we’re all headed to space eventually, let’s hope the rest of us can get there for less than $250k!

Speaking of launching people into space, many managers have a direct report or two they would gladly send on a one-way trip to space (metaphorically speaking of course). Some young professionals “pull on a rope not tied” by making demands on the incorrect assumption they’re doing so from a position of strength. They over-estimate higher-ups’ perception of their contribution and willingness to accommodate them.

Whether it’s a large, hierarchical company or a small, flatter one, it’s important to see yourself as those above you do. It’s prudent to do so even if you’re not advocating for something, but critical if you’re about to raise compensation or other matters. Employees are treated differently in terms of compensation and advancement opportunities – more leverage exists for those who are seen as contributing.

To look more holistically at your contribution, like your manager does, consider your replaceability, your cost, and the dollar value of your contribution. Whatever it is you’re asking for, and whether it’s on your behalf or on your team’s, advocating wisely the Look Out Above! way will help you leverage your contribution, preserve your long-term prospects, and give yourself the greatest chance to obtain the outcomes you seek.

Notes and sources: Article by David Grossman, “Richard Branson’s Plans for Space Tourism Sure Are Aggressive,” Popular Mechanics, Sept 11, 2019.

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