A word with many meanings. With our current economic situation I have been thinking about this one word a lot…
What is Value?
After much contemplation over the word value I have determined it to mean this: Something has value if it fulfills a need in the most worthwhile way possible for all parties.
Now let me expand…
We all have needs. From the most basic, such as food and shelter, up to the most complex, such as the computer I am using to write this to you.
Many people help to create these things that I buy and consume. I pay them money to fulfill these needs of mine. I also provide value to other people so that I may earn the money I need to buy the things I value. This makes value seem like a money thing when it really isn’t.
You see, money is simply a tool. The intermediary, if you will, between my value and another person’s value. It is a tool used for sheer expediency and efficiency and nothing more or less. This is why we must seperate our thinking about value from our thoughts about money.
People value different things differently. In a free marketplace valuations are determined based on a number of factors such as supply and demand. There is not one set supply of something and there is certainly not one set demand for something. They are constantly changing.
For instance, I may “demand” a tv priced at $500. Many people are willing to pay $1000 for the same tv. The demand is there but only at a certain level. My actual demand won’t be created until they can supply the tv for less. Until then that tv has zero value for me!
It is important to understand some of the economics behind value so that we can begin to separate things out and make some real sense of what exactly value is.
We create value when we go to work everyday, when we put food on the table for our loved ones, when we volunteer our time, when we make someone laugh to cheer them up, and even when we write or talk about our life experiences so that others can enjoy them and use them to live better lives.
When we give someone our hard earned money in the form of a donation or charity, or in the form of buying them food we are NOT creating value. Why? Because they will buy something that has REAL value with that money, or the food you bought them would be the real value for them, created not by you, but by the restaurant.
I think this is an important distinction to make if we are ever going to understand what is valuable and what is not in this crazy world. Money is not the answer.
What is the answer?
I believe the real answer is to simply ask yourself this question…
How can I best fulfill someone else’s needs in this world in a worthwhile manner?
We all value things differently and we all have our values. It is good and honorable to have values. We all could probably use some more values in our lives, and by that I mean, we could all use more lived out values.
You see, value is not created until there is action. Value is not created when money exchanges hands. It is created before then. Sometimes long before then. Such as when the master craftsman is still in training to perfect his or her craft.
Each person is given a certain amount of ability, talent, and opportunity in life. Some squander it and some use it to the full extent. Often we are unaware of our full abilily to create value.
How then do we create outstanding value?
By pushing the limits and becoming most outstanding at being of service to people to fulfill their needs.
That’s it, now let’s make it happen!
I’ll leave you with a quote by Bessie Stanley that I believe sums things up nicely…
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
– I would reword the final line to make it something like this, “…to have succeeded and to have created much value in the world.”