My boss took me to Panera Bread to give me the ultimate ultimatum. I had to either embrace my value as one of his managers or take the “you’re fired” option. He specifically said to me, over my Thai Chicken Salad, “You haven’t created Value.”
I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling with developing positive and productive relationships with my co-workers. I wasn’t clear on my objectives, and even though I had a ton of great ideas my execution lacked organization and confidence. I was in the midst of being the newest employee at the bottom of the totem pole in a leadership role that I just couldn’t seem to make work. I was absolutely fabulous at sales, had unique ideas for increasing profitability, and could always envision and be passionate about the bigger picture. So, what wasn’t working?
Even though I said to my boss that day over lunch that I would commit to embracing my value as a manager and come on board full force in my performance … I was totally at a loss as what that meant or how to do it.
So I started with what I knew. What my OWN unique value was. Instead of managing my co-workers, I started managing my own value – my output in direct correlation to my skill set and what made me unique.
I was great at sales but terrible at organizing. So, I started selling more and making sure the sales people I managed started getting more involved with my sales. I learned to delegate the things that I knew I wasn’t as strong in and gave those jobs to people who had those talents. I was great at leading team meetings, so I started doing them more often and getting my sales staff involved. I stopped worrying about who would like me, and started focusing on my strengths. I stopped being bossy and started to lead.
I had to constantly address myself every day at work by asking myself, “Is what I am doing right NOW valuable and am I bringing something to the plate that no one else can bring?” We can all do a certain task the same way, but it’s the uniqueness of those of us who bring our true talents and value to that task that allows for superior performers.
So as I began to see output increase and my own sense of value increase … I began to also see something else emerging. My own confidence. I was beginning to take stock in ME.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better … I was let go. “We can’t afford your salary and are eliminating the management position.” Ouch.
At first, I thought this was a setback. A huge one. I started to doubt the progress I’d made because the end result wasn’t what I expected. However … after a few days and a few good friends to lean on, I realized that it was EXACTLY what I needed. I had risen to the challenge of discovering my true value in who I was and what I had to offer and the time for me to go for my dreams was NOW.
So, I hunkered down with my severance pay and finished my second novel and co-founded a new company, Ignite Your Truth. At times, often isolated, I had to call upon those unique things about myself to remind me that I had VALUE in what I had to offer the world.
I could sell. I could write. I wanted to heal. I wanted to share the message of love and hope. I had a voice. I could speak.
Almost getting fired led me to discovering my innate Value based on my strengths and talents. Getting let go led me to living out my life-long dream of becoming an author and speaker. It is often times not in our enormous successes that we discover the true secret to our inner value, but in the challenges that we are called to face.
So what is the secret to unlocking your value?
Secret #1: Value is in the discovery of what you were born to do and what you have to offer the world.
That doesn’t always mean that it’s losing your job and writing a book or starting your own company. It can mean anything, in every task, during any normal day as well.
Since I work from home now, I’m remembering those days of what it felt like to be a stay at home mom. The dishes, the laundry, the carting kids around … the everyday tasks that tend to get mundane and overwhelming. I’m remembering how I would occasionally feel a little forgotten. Unappreciated. I remember what it was like to dress in my favorite black pencil skirt with my delicious red leather patent shoes …. and then I look down and I’m still wearing my pajama’s and it’s already noon. But, there is even value in that.
I’d worked for nearly 8 hours on my novel and on my website http://www.igniteyourtruth.com one day last week and when I broke for lunch I noticed how dirty the oven was. I felt like that oven. A little forgotten, serving a great purpose, but a little bit of a mess. So, I set out to clean it. I don’t know what happened in that hour but I was suddenly dead set on cleaning that oven like I’d never cleaned anything before. Out of nowhere I sensed value in my doing what I was doing and it felt good. I was humming and singing and scrubbing and at one point I think I even day dreamt about winning the best oven cleaner contest in the world. (this was before 5:00 so I hadn’t even cracked a bottle of wine yet)
That evening when James came home and asked me, “So, what did you do today?” I felt slightly unaccomplished. I felt overwhelmed. Starting a company and editing a novel is draining and it doesn’t bring a steady pay check. I took his comment personally, as if by my staying at home now to kick start my company made me some house wife who sits around and eats bon bon’s all day.
But then, something happened. I smiled. I pointed to the oven and said, “I cleaned the oven.”
Maybe it wasn’t the launch of my novel or the booking of several speaking engagements or a high website hit day. But I’d done something with my whole heart that day, given it everything I had, and I felt damn good about it.
Secret #2: If you do just one thing today, do it with all your heart. You’ll find the value.
- What strengths, skills and unique talents do you have that create value in your work, with your friends and with family?
- How can you start to focus on those to really unlock the secrets to your value?
- What situations have you been in that led you to your value moments?
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