I have a situation in my work life, which I can’t elaborate on here, but which got me pondering about the value of people and their contributions to the world. You see, I live in the work of IT consulting, where we essentially rent people out by the hour and in so doing, puts an approximation on their value to the company and the customer. If the customer pushes us to reduce our hourly rate, what does that say about their perception of the value of that person’s services?
You see, for much of my adult life, I’ve been a person who was very driven by my work. Being experienced and senior, and being able to draw high rates and provide significant value to customers was a significant driver of my self-esteem. So, when these types of work things happen, it leaves me pondering just a bit about my own personal value. After all, dollars and cents are easy to judge. Other things, not so much.
Now, I’m educated enough (and have done enough therapy) to realize that my contributions to the world are more than just dollars in the revenue column. But those other sources of value are intangibles and let’s face it, if you’re doing low-level work and drawing low rates, it has an impact on the future of your career. So, it left me puzzling a bit over the whole thing and also thinking in a broader sense about how we as a society define the value of people.
For example, nurses and teachers, who directly impact our most vulnerable citizens, draw very low salaries. What they do is vitally important to all of us, at some of the most critical moments of our lives. So I guess that’s an argument that value can’t be judged by money.
At the same time, rock stars and baseball players draw huge salaries and I personally could care less about most of them. So I guess that’s not a good measure of value either.
Mother Theresa touched thousands of lives and never made a dime herself. Again, another example of how your value can’t be measured in salary or financial rewards.
So, all of that said, how do we measure our value? By our contributions? By how we live our lives? By how we treat others?
For me, I’ve decided to treat this work situation as a temporary bump in the very long road of my career and ignore it. And at the same time, I’m going to focus on my impact on others and how I can positively influence their lives to be better and more rewarding.
After all, I don’t think I want my epitaph to say, “She Billed the Most in 4th Quarter.” I’d rather be remembered for leaving the world around me a better place.
“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Up to his nest again, I shall not live in vain.” ~ Emily Dickinson