Success and the Parable of the Fireplace

Chuck Frey
4 min readDec 8, 2020


A savvy strategy to bring more “fire” to your career and life

Imagine sitting in front of a cold fireplace and demanding, “Give me warmth!”

Ridiculous, right?

But many of us do this when we expect our employers to pay us more money but don’t offer any value up front. Or we rationalize that “They’re not paying me enough, so I’m not going to do any more.”

Both approaches cause us to end up in the same place — frustrated, disillusioned, with no more money in our pockets. Sitting in front of our own metaphorical cold fireplace, grumbling about the unfairness of life.


Because that’s not how compensation and success work.

The law of compensation

If you want warmth from a fireplace, you must first put in wood and kindling. For best results, it should be arranged with the kindling and some newspaper at the bottom, with bigger branches on top of that and finally one or two logs to top it off. This carefully arranged collection of firewood ensures that the little bits will catch fire first, followed by the larger pieces of wood.

In no time, you’ll be warming your hands in front of a roaring fire.

It’s the same way with work: First comes contribution, then compensation.

If you want to make more money, you need to provide more value to more people. It’s as simple as that. It’s cause and effect. As a general rule, you’ll discover that your compensation increases in exact proportion to the value you provide.

How savvy people outgrow their jobs

Don’t believe me? Think about colleagues you know who got promoted instead of you. Chances are, they got the job because they outgrew their current position. They learned more, did more, volunteered more and cared enough to bring their best ideas to work.

Doing more than you’re paid to do, coming up with an innovative insight or offering to take on a challenging project inevitably attracts the attention of senior management. It differentiates you as someone valuable, irreplaceable and indispensable. And it increases…



Chuck Frey

Thought leader in mind mapping, visual thinking and creativity for 15+ years. Relentless explorer, learner and dot-collector. I help you elevate your thinking.