Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Value – What are you worth?

Over the past couple of months, I have been seized by a desire to make some changes.  That has meant making adjustments to who I am, both cutting as well as adding.

I have taken some new steps.  I’ve attempted to tap into some creative options and energies.  One area that has been at the forefront of my mind is the potential for some other work or extra income.  I’ve undertaken some work on the side of my regular, full-time job.  One could say that it isn’t really a huge leap or shift, as it merely represents similar activities in a different venue or to a different audience.  That being said, it has resulted in a whole series of internal (and sometimes external) self-worth exercises.

When you ask someone to pay you to do something (assuming you can get to that point), you have to outline what you are worth.  And it doesn’t really stop at “Here is my fee” and them smiling and accepting it.  You have to outline the what, the why (usually several times) and the how.  You have to prove, in a sense that you are worth what you are asking.  It is hard. 

Our society has developed individuals that generally follow two trains of thought or that fall into two categories.  There are those that feel that humility or modesty is most important, where the worth of an individual should not supersede that of others around you.  Often, this turns into self-deprecation or undervaluing ourselves.  On the other end of the individual value spectrum are those that have a strong and inherent sense of value.  I suppose one would call that confidence.  Some people exude a sense of superiority.  This mutates into a need to “toot their own horn” or feel like their value must exceed that of others. 

Wherever you fall into the value or self-worth spectrum (and I’ve found it can shift as you progress through life or from situation to situation), it isn’t always easy.  At least it hasn’t been for me.  You have to constantly re-evaluate your abilities, including whether you are actually capable of meeting the value that has been contracted.  You have to prepare, demonstrate and then deliver.  It is tough.  I assume that this gets somewhat easier with time and with experience.  One can hope.

While I don’t feel that modesty is wrong or incorrect, it is a challenge to look past one’s current limitations and embrace what you can become.  What I’ve learned from this whole experience is this:

1)      You (and your time) are worth something – don’t undervalue.  If you have to sort out what that time is worth, consider what you would have done with that same time if you were to do something else.

2)      Accept that it is going to be painful, or at best, mildly uncomfortable to negotiate your value.

3)      Do your best.  When all is said and done, you just have to bear down and get the job done.  Let your work and efforts demonstrate your value and wipe out the doubt (your doubt and their’s).

As I contemplated this topic, a faint memory of a poem came to mind.

Author: Anonymous

Not - How did he die? But - How did he live?
Not - What did he gain? But - What did he give?

These are the things that measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Not - What was his station? But - had he a heart?

And - How did he play his God-given part?

Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer?

To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?

Not - What was his church? Not - What was his creed?

But - Had he befriended those really in need?

Not - What did the sketch in the newspaper say?

But - How many were sorry when he passed away?

These are the things that measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Here are several other quotations that I came across that resonated with me.

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Having a low opinion of yourself is not "modesty". It's self-destruction. Holding your uniqueness in high regard is not "egotism". It's a necessary precondition to happiness and success.” – Bobbe Sommer

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcolm S. Forbes

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

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