Million Dollar Consulting® Mindset
From Alan Weiss
Volume 4 Number 5
Welcome to the fourth year of Million Dollar Consulting Mindset. Our mission is to spark new thinking and ideas for creating a thriving business and rewarding life. As always, I'm happy to answer questions if you send them to me and specify they're for MDCM.
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Why Do We Undervalue Our Worth?
Every so often some journalist on a slow news day calculates the "worth" of the human body, somehow finding a dollar summary for the various minerals and chemicals. It's not much. In fact, it's far less than the cost of the items in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," which are also totaled up by people with too much time on their hands.
I've found that our true worth is in our value to others, our contributions, our interactions, our creations, and our legacy. There should be no dollar amount for that kind of worth, but instead ongoing gratitude. A woman in the San Diego Airport, purchasing a great many things, saw that I was only buying a newspaper as I patiently waited behind her. "Put his newspapers on my bill," she told the clerk ringing up the items, "so he doesn't have to wait for all this." She refused my offer of payment and made my day.
This issue is not that we undervalue other people—who wouldn't be gratified and impressed by such a simple yet thoughtful act as buying the newspaper—but that we undervalue ourselves. I've coached entrepreneurs, business executives, solo practitioners, and even other coaches for almost 30 years. My experience is unequivocal: Most people (you read that right, most people) don't hold themselves in high enough esteem. They undervalue themselves.
Understand your self-worth
Part of this is because they were told with the cold rapidity of an assembly line when they were young that they were damaged in some manner, and they've never recovered from the pounding. It's also because fewer people have gone through the tough times that create an annealing process in the recovery—for example, emerging and succeeding after the Great Depression or World War II. Part of it is due to a current, crazed egalitarianism that proclaims we all must be equal and therefore any one of us is only as good as the weakest amongst us.
My message for you is simple yet difficult: You can't contribute at your maximum capacity, can't reach your true potential, can't optimally help others unless and until you build and understand your own self-worth. This is a heady prospect, and one that some may call arrogant.
I call it confident.
People feel best when they perform best, and they perform best when they feel best. The easiest way to break into this success cycle is on the performance side. (The "feel best" side is in the purview of the motivational speakers and "rah rah" crowd, and the empirical evidence is that improvements emanating from those experiences are shallow and short-lived, whether employing hot coals or sweat lodges.) The pragmatics of the "perform side" are to build skills. The more skills you build, the better you'll perform and the better you perform the better you'll feel about yourself.
What skills should you learn? The best are those skills most widely applied, e.g., better to learn the decision making process than how to make wine at home. The most important of all in my experience is language skill: vocabulary, metaphor, example, analogy, and so forth. These verbal abilities will enable you to influence, persuade, sell, and impress. And they will provide the means to confidently—not arrogantly—identify and understand your true worth.
We have an esteem problem in our society. Self-worth is not a finalized condition, but an active and moving realization that must be nurtured every day. You can always step back from being overconfident. But it's extremely difficult to climb out of the abyss of low self-esteem.
© Alan Weiss 2014
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© Alan Weiss 2014. All rights reserved.
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