Imagine you are an architect. You build a magnificent bridge that will enrich the lives of many and beautify the neighborhood; a true wonder. But there’s a special clause in your contract, requiring you to choose exactly one of the following rewards. Whichever one you pick, the other two will be forever removed from you. The choices are:

  1. A million-dollar bonus payout. (If you don’t choose this option, you don’t get a dime for your work.)
  2. The bridge gets named after you, with a large life-like statue of you in front, so that you’ll always be famous as the creator of something everyone loves. (If you don’t choose this option, no one will ever know you built the bridge; its builder will forever be “anonymous.”)
  3. You get to see the bridge every single day, and hear the cheers of the people as they use it, shortening their commutes, walking its pedestrian walkways, watching the sun set over the water, and being enriched. (If you don’t choose this, you’ll never be allowed to use the bridge yourself or even go near it, so you’ll never see the people enjoying it.)

Which would you pick?

We all seek rewards for our tasks – often some combination of those three fundamentals. The ideal is to get paid for something, get recognition for it, and enjoy the satisfaction of the impact of our work. But the ideal won’t always be present! Though it probably won’t be this extreme, sometimes you’ll need to make hard choices between potential rewards. You should be comfortable making those choices because otherwise, someone will make them for you.

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