When we challenge our assumptions about our value, we can see ourselves in a whole new light. This perspective shift can be powerful.
During a recent customer engagement, I had a conversation with an employee in the company’s housekeeping department. “What one word describes your value?” I began. His answer? “Trash.” Uh Oh. I didn’t know if he thought he was trash, his company was trash or his life was trash. After our Value Mapping session, which takes people through a quick but very deep self-reflective process, his outlook changed.
“You know, for 30 years I’ve thought of myself as a trash man,” he told me. “Yet when I really look at the impact of my work, and the problems I’m solving for people, my real value is that I make a better day for others. Because of what I do, they like where they work. It looks good, it smells good and it’s clean. I’m in charge of helping make people happy!” He popped me on the arm and thanked me. He felt empowered in his job – probably for the first time. That was a huge change of perspective for him.
That’s why we need to sit down, challenge our assumptions, and really look closely at the value we bring to the table as expressed in terms of impact. We need to enable employees to understand their value as much as we need our customers to understand our value to them.. With that fresh perspective, they’ll be more motivated and they’ll show up with more purpose and passion.
Ditch the Distorted Assumptions
Are you missing the mark when you describe your value? It happens more than you’d think. We assume we understand the depth of our value. We use Facebook to announce what we’re doing, or we put up a profile on LinkedIn. We let what we do define us. Those distortions are limiting, and they don’t always reflect the real, unique value and impact we possess because it’s all about “what we DO” versus the “IMPACT of what we do”. That’s what drives value…impact.
So how do we discern and then communicate our value? How do we learn whether our assumptions are correct? Here are some steps you can take to answer these questions.
- Ask yourself: “What one word best defines my value?” and “What’s my impact?” The answers will not be found in your job description. It’s part of every leader’s responsibility to understand their own impact and give others the freedom to explore their value. Omar Ishrak, chairman and CEO of Medtronic, is a good example of this. The company has landed a place on Fortune magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies list multiple times. Ishrak and people who work at every level of the company understand their value. It goes far beyond job roles or products. They seek to “contribute to human welfare” and they strive to “alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life for patients.” (source: http://www.medtronic.com/us-en/about/mission.html)
- Share and discuss your value. Ask others about your impact. When I started my company, I asked 50 different people – friends, family, business colleagues – the same question: What value do I bring to our relationship? This led me on a path that allowed me to see my value and then share it as I formed my business model.
- Write down words that define your value. Think of your customers, internal and external – what specific, authentic words describe your value to them? Collect those words. Use them to alter your perceptions and assumptions. Using the words that describe your value allows you to cultivate a different perspective and state of mind you can begin to take action on.
Once you start to challenge your perceptions of your value, new doors open. When you are more aware of your own value, you become more alert to opportunities in your personal and professional life. Understanding your value is incredibly empowering. When we help customers through this process, they tell us it is emboldening and enlightening, just like the janitor discovered. What’s more, it gets them looking at decisions and opportunities through a much wider lens.
Al is the founder of Value Mapping™ and has been a passionate brand enthusiast and consultant for over two decades. Everything Al writes is designed to help others reach their potential and become wildly happy. Contact him directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or check out www.valuemapping.com.