The Value in You

I’ve borrowed this title from my good friend Roxanne St Clair who created a pack of 52 inspirational leadership cards with this title.

Several years ago, when I was working as a consultant in the rail industry, I remember a quite appalling meeting that by coincidence took place after a major train crash in which several lives were lost.

Some ‘actuaries’ were attempting to make an argument about cutting back investment in the infrastructure and citing a level of ‘affordability’ in terms of the number of lives that might be lost by not making further investment.

Needless to say, this ‘argument’ was very quickly dismissed as there is no justification in placing any sort of comparative financial ‘valuation’ on life.

We cannot place any form of monetary value on any individual’s life as such, but we can place a ‘value’ on what a person has ‘done’ with their life and is currently ‘doing’ with their life.

Although you and I have heard of the ‘rich list’ which indicates how much certain individuals are ‘worth’ in monetary terms based on the amount of money they have accumulated this is not an indicator of their ‘value’.

Many of the people in those lists have done very little of real value to society as a whole.

What is the ‘value’ in you, or me?

Unlike the ‘rich list’ it’s not about what we ‘have’.

It’s about who you and I are.

It’s about what you and I do and why we do it.

It’s about what you and I give to the rest of society.

Not what we ‘give back’ because we can only give back something that has been ‘given to’ us rather than something that we have ourselves created, learned or earned by doing what we do.

What we are able to ‘give’ depends on who we really are, what we do in the world and why we do it. That is what creates the ‘value’ that we ‘give’ to the world.

Maybe not the ‘whole’ world, but to ‘our’ world, the sector of society with which we engage at the moment.

You and I give out or ‘provide’ to those who engage with us whatever it is that we do, say, write, draw, sing, perform and so on.

We do a ‘job’ and we perform a task.

What it is that we do in this sense depends on our value.

Our value to those we engage with to do whatever it is we do in terms of what we provide.

But there is a Law of Reciprocity which says that we cannot give without receiving – ‘Give and ye shall receive’

What we give depends on our value and so does what we receive.

But there’s a catch.

What we give depends on our value as we perceive it in ourselves, what we receive depends on the value, not of us, but of what we give as perceived by others.

My mentor Peter Thomson says, “Money is the silent applause for a job well done”.

People will give you or I an amount of money in accordance with the value they perceive in what we do or how well we do it.

This is where it gets interesting.

Most people see the ‘value’ to them of entertainment such as watching sports or music or TV as very high, likewise holidays and special events which take them ‘away’ from their real life.

They are happy to see sports and entertainment ‘stars’ appearing on the ‘rich list’ for giving them an opportunity to ‘escape’ their lives for a short while.

On the other hand, they resent paying for some of the things that actually keep them alive, like food, heating and lighting and so on – always looking for a ‘cheaper deal’.

People expect their health to be ‘free’ to the extent that the costs of the health service (in the UK) have to be raised through taxation.

Not everyone, but ‘most’ people.

When you and I attempt to place a value – in monetary terms – on what we give, the products and services we provide, we have to look at it from two points of view.

What it ‘cost’ us in terms of acquiring the knowledge, experience, vision and creativity to develop and provide our unique version of whatever we give – in other words it’s value to us; and then how the value of what we give is perceived by those who are receiving it.

Of course, it depends on what it is we are giving.

Is it the same thing as someone else is providing, or is it something different, something that is unique to us?

It’s probably impossible for two offerings to be exactly the same – let’s take a can of beans as an example.

The can of beans is exactly the same brand, size and price in shop A as in shop B. But shop B is closer to you than Shop A. Which can of beans has the greater value?

And would you be prepared to pay a tiny amount more for the product you can get by walking to the corner store than the same product at the supermarket 10 miles away?

Yes, there are ‘other considerations’, but when you come to ‘pricing’ the value of what you give, then this is part of the algorithm.

What is the value to the purchaser?

Whether it’s products or services that you give – you provide, what is the value in YOU that leads people to engage with you for what you give rather than someone else.

You and I need to know that value.

And we need to ensure that the potential recipients of what we ‘give’ know it as well.

What is ‘the value in you’?