If I asked you the question “What is your self-worth?”  what would you take into consideration?

Would you think about how much you earn or how much you own?  Would you think about what’s in the bank, or how much you owe the bank?

Or would you dwell on what other people might think you’re worth?

How long did it take you before you valued yourself?

Not just in this exercise above, but in your life?

The trouble with external valuations – like everything in a market – is the value can rise or fall without really having anything to do with you.

We’ve been judged and labelled all our lives 

Sporty, smart, arty, eccentric, funny, beautiful, introvert, extrovert, people person, shy, bossy, go-getting.  These (e)valuations are set by other people, or agreed by us in some kind of unconscious negotiation with other people.

Rescuing knight - self-wroth value yourselfAfter a while we may even take on that label; wear it like a suit of armour.  You might begin sentences with:

“you see, I’m an X kind of person.”

We limit our self-worth by overlooking our value

Being an “X kind of person” makes sure that we limit ourselves before someone else does.  It’s a bulwark against rejection.

It’s why I think psychometric tests are such comfort blankets for corporations; they’re grown-up labels where it’s ok to put people in boxes.  The focus is on a fixed point. Nowhere are we considering our value; what we’re offering or what we have in common.

Most of the coaching conversations I’ve ever had – whether I have been the coach or the one being coached – has begun at the point of being frustrated or comforted with a label.

The biggest value of coaching or therapy is that it allows us the space to examine our own assumptions and unpick the tapestry of labels and self-limiting beliefs we’ve stitched together over time.

How to set your own self-worth and value

Setting our value, establishing our own self-worth, is not an easy task.  Especially when we’ve got used to other people doing it for us.

We could all value these things more:

  • Our time
  • Our relationships
  • Our health
  • Our emotions
  • Our environment
  • Our skills

When we say we have no time, or that we have no choice but to eat junk or skip exercise class, we’re really saying we don’t value ourselves. Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly describes this as the “epidemic of scarcity”:

“For me, the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It’s enough. I’m enough.”

We have choices

Victim self-worth value yourselfWe choose to have that extra doughnut or glass of wine.  We choose to say “yes” when we mean “no”. 

We choose to get on that galloping horse and if we don’t like it we might look to blame someone else.

The problem with work

We may moan about workplaces not being motivating places.  We may know that the number one reason we’re likely to leave is a bad boss.  We may know that we need both support and challenge, but how many people ask hiring managers and HR the kind of questions that will expose how much the company really thinks they’re worth?

Most people ask about commission, promotion, pension and health schemes.  Of course these are important, but they don’t speak to what you’re really worth.

Questions to test value in companies

So, how about asking a different set of questions?  You could ask them during the interview process, or when you are weighing up the choice to stay or find new work.  It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start:

These are just a few that come to mind.  If you can think of other ones, do leave me a note in the comments below.Invest in yourself

Invest in yourself

You can’t really expect any company to invest in you, if you’re not prepared to back yourself.  These are the questions you need to ask:

This is the growth mindset

Carol Dweck’s term for those people who take responsibility for their own learning, and who don’t fear or shrink from what others might term failure, is “growth mindset.”  Brené Brown focuses on a different part of our anatomy when she describes “wholeheartedness”:

 “There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.” 

So now, tell me again, what is your self-worth?

I would highly recommend journal writing. I joined one of Moyra’s journal safari sessions a couple of weeks ago and have been keeping a daily journal ever since. The main benefits for me is it’s helped me to keep perspective in these times, not to be too hard on myself and be thankful for the things I have achieved.

Justin Ellis

Innovation & Strategy, British retail bank