If people viewed their jobs the way they viewed their hobbies or favorite sports teams, or their kids' sports, they could make multiple times their current income.

A lot of people are competitive in areas that don't matter, like club tennis or Little League, but not at work. That same drive should exist in the office, where you're actually getting paid to produce.

Too often people think that somehow, because everyone needs a job, it's not a try-out sport. They see it as the tee-ball league where everyone gets a trophy and a party at the end of the season. But it's not. Everyone has to earn it.

In sports leagues, people hire coaches and personal trainers. They practice on weekends to prepare for a big game. Guess what? In your career, it's always a game. You practice while you play. 

The people who get promoted and make more money are the ones who understand that the competition doesn't stop.

Here's the reality: a company's responsibility is to make money. Employees need to bring their A-game every day to make that happen. If you owned a company, what approach would you want your employees to take? Would you be ok with them strolling in at 9:30 am and leaving at 4:30 pm? Would you want them to go above and beyond for clients and customers, or would you want them to give the bare minimum? Guarantee no one would want someone who wasn't giving it their all.

In kids' sports, private coaches are everywhere. Parents want their kids to make the team and be the best, so they hire the best people, invest in the best equipment and have extra practices. They take those extra steps to stay competitive.

If people aren't taking extra classes, getting degrees or certifications or going to networking events, they're not staying competitive in the workplace. Yet, they'll complain that the company they work for isn't investing in them.

The simple fact is people have to take ownership and control of their career. Hire a career coach. Learn new software skills or get certified in areas related to your job. That's how you stay competitive.

If you like this post, follow @TomGimbel for more.

Published on: May 31, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.