Good morning. Today we’re going to talk about value. Back in early March, I did a presentation at a conference where I was speaking about knowing your value as a business owner. When we know our value as business owners, this affects what we charge, the types of people we attract to work with us, the types of customers we work with, our profitability, cash flow, it affects everything. And when we don’t know our true value, we tend to do things like discounting, hiring people who are not necessarily a good fit for our culture, or the type of work we want to do, or the type of business we want to have.
And so we get into the situation where, yeah, maybe we’re making money, and maybe we have employees, but it’s not a very happy place to be. It doesn’t feel supportive, empowering to you or to the employees, and then ultimately customers can feel all that. So when I did this talk, it was before this pandemic really hit. And one of my questions was if everything disappears tomorrow, do you know your value? If the money stops coming in, if the customers stop hiring you or paying for your services or products, if nobody will work with you, if everything you own disappears from a monetary perspective, if your 401k drops drastically, what’s left? Who are you without all of that?
I think our identities can get very wrapped up in the “stuff” we have. I call it the external parts of our lives such as the house we own, the cars we drive, our 401K balance, our savings account balance, what types of furniture we have in our house, or what types of clothes are in the closet? Where do we eat? What experiences do we have? How do we travel? Do we go to the most expensive places all around the world? Does that make us feel valuable? Does it make us feel important because we have that stuff? And so when that stuff is gone, who are we without it?
I realize, this is a big question I realize and it’s not something you’re gonna answer in the next five minutes. But it’s a question that I’ve been wrestling with for a long time. I grew up with a lot of money. My dad was a very successful entrepreneur, which was great in many ways, but in other ways, I think it confused me as to what my value was. I very much put my value stake on what I was doing. I grew older and went to college, got a degree, and then got jobs. How much money I was making became very important, what my actual title was, became very important.
For me having a business was a very important thing because my dad did and it made me feel like I was productive and successful if I had my own business. I would say most of my businesses, in the beginning, didn’t make any money but I still had a business. At some point, about five, six years ago, everything sort of fell apart. I lost a couple of very big clients so my income dropped drastically. I lost a relationship that was very important, so I had to move out, find a new place. And none of it was what I really wanted to happen. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I became very depressed.
As I was in this pretty dark place, what actually started happening was I started turning to my spiritual practices, more and more. I worked on really being present, focusing on the moment, practicing gratitude for what I did have, and trying not to focus so much on what I didn’t have. Slowly but surely, I started to feel this connection with myself that was much deeper than just what I was creating in the external parts of my life. I didn’t have a relationship, my business wasn’t doing very well, I didn’t have any money. I had a lot of debt, an old car, nothing was very fancy. All of that at first made me feel bad about who I was, but as I grew deeper in my spiritual practices and started really connecting to the core of who I am, the less and less that “stuff” meant.
Now, this was a long process. It was actually a gradual awakening to what was important and what was actually needed to feel joy, peace, and contentment. I started to become more aware of the right choices for me based on what I wanted to create in my life. I was driven by intention, peace, and joy. Things started to slowly get better with my business, it started to grow again. I found a new relationship. Then a couple of years later, I went through this same thing, almost exactly, all over again! I obviously still had a lot to learn in these areas. I lost that relationship and ended up in this very deep well of fear. Because of the fear, I stopped really working on my business. As I did that, my income all but disappeared.
All of a sudden, I was in the same place again. Too much debt, not enough money coming in, no relationship, same old car, so very similar situation. Again, I started going more deeply into my spiritual practices such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, just being in nature, being present with what’s around, the trees, and the birds, and the sky, and the clouds and just feeling what was coming up. That was probably my most important lesson. How to feel the fear, process it, and release it. I wasn’t feeling it and letting it paralyze me. I was feeling the sensations the fear created in my body, which allowed me to actually process it and let it go. It was a practice that I did every day, consistently. Eventually, again, I started to become more and more connected to who I was.
This time it was even deeper because I was not only working on the mental part, the meditation, the mindfulness, but the feeling and emotional part of myself. It was much more holistic, encompassing everything. I did this practice, religiously every day, for about a year. Now, things are very different and they feel very solid. I feel like I’ve broken through some really tough patterns.
I’ve actually paid off most of my debt. I’ve made more money in the last year than I’ve ever made. I’m in a wonderful, healthy relationship now. So, it’s all about how the internal parts of ourselves have to shift so that the external part can truly change.
What we tend to do is just focus on the external parts. We get a new job; try to make more money; we get a better car or house, or we believe we need a new relationship. But just changing the external, doesn’t change the internal. And this never creates change for good. We will always slide back into our old challenges and patterns. We have to change the internal first.
When we focus on the external, we just hop from thing to thing, but that doesn’t usually make it truly better. It’s like the book says, “Wherever You Go, There You Are”. And it’s true. Every situation I’m in, or every new place I move to, or every new job I take, it’s still me, and I still own my issues.
Doing this internal work really helped me get clear about who I am, what my value is as a human being, and how to actually live a life that reflects my value.
Finding my true value has led me to make different choices with how I run my business. It has affected who I want to work with, the people I want to hang out with, what types of people do I want to surround myself with, and what activities do I want to engage in. It affects everything.
The more I learned about my value and can feel it, the better things get. I’ve seen the same thing happen with clients as well. In the beginning of working with them, they didn’t really know their value, and their businesses struggled. As they became more and more clear that they are valuable, they are important, and that their business can reflect that value, they became more aware of who they truly are, they made better choices, their businesses grew in new and healthier ways.
I would like to encourage you to think about that right now. If you have lost a lot because of this pandemic, which a lot of us have. If you’re angry, if you are not content, if you are not at peace, take a look at that. If there’s frustration, anger, anxiety, and fear, take a look at that. It could be a signal that you’ve been finding your value from the success of your business, the money you make, the things you purchase. What if you found your value in who you truly are? How would you act differently, behave differently? What different choices would you make?
You are here with specific skills and abilities and experiences, and you put all that together, and that is unique to you. What is it you’re supposed to share with the world, with your community, with people in your family? I don’t know what it is. It could be on a large scale, it could be on a small scale, it doesn’t really matter. It’s more about connecting to you and your source and then sharing that forward with the world. Think about that. Share any comments you have below. Post what your value is and what are you here to share with the world.