A father on his deathbed gave his son a watch. “Here’s a watch your grandfather gave me,” he said. “It’s almost 200 years old. Go to the jewelry store and see how much they give you.”
The son went to the jewelry store, came back to his father and said, “They offered $100 because it’s so old.”
The father said, “Well, try the pawn shop.”
The son came back later and said, “The pawnshop only offered $20 because he has a scratch.”
The father then asked his son to go to the museum and show them the watch.
The son silently questioned his father’s judgment, but still, ready to follow through on his last wishes, he went to the museum. Upon his return, he told his father, “The curator offered me $375,000 to include this very rare piece in their valuable antique collection.
The father replied, “I wanted to show you that the right place will value you in the right way. Don’t end up in the wrong place and don’t get angry because you’re not valued. Never stay in a place where someone doesn’t see your worth, or you don’t feel appreciated.”
I share this advice with my own children and grandchildren, the people I counsel, and anyone wondering what to do next with their lives. As this season’s crop of graduates venture into adulthood, that’s something to keep in mind.
I care about it so much that I’ve written a book, “You Haven’t Reached Your Peak Yet,” filled with encouraging examples of what can be possible when you gather your confidence and take inventory of your skills and unique abilities.
We may think we are worthless, but no matter what has happened or what will happen, we will never lose our worth. We are still invaluable to those who love us. The value of our lives does not come from what we do or who we know, but from who we are. We are special. Never forget it.
We can all use the occasional boost in our self-confidence or self-esteem. Lately, I feel it even more with the state of our country and the economy. Even grown-ups need a pat on the back at some point.
What is really important to you? How do you want to live your life? What are you willing to do – or not do – to have the life you want?
It’s reasonable to expect most adults to do their best to do the right thing. And that has taken on new significance in the world we live in, where our words and deeds are often subjected to cameras and shared online for the world to see. But having an established value system goes beyond that – it takes the guesswork out. Because you have already thought about how you want to live and be perceived, your responses and reactions can often be automatic. You won’t even have to think about your actions.
New graduates, the ink barely dry on their diplomas, begin their careers and hope their studies have prepared them for the challenges ahead. Will they know their worth – and their values – as they enter the world of work and are faced with questions they never had to answer?
Job seekers of all ages, displaying years of experience and the scars of the battle to prove it, are wondering what direction their professional life should take and whether a career change might better suit their goals. Many already know their value, but are they ready to defend their values in a new environment?
And on the other end of the spectrum, those preparing to retire after years of jaw-dropping achievement and utter disappointment reflect on what they are proud of and what they wish they could change. Do they realize the value they have brought to their workplace and to the people they have worked with? Are they convinced that their values were evident and respected?
No matter what stage of life you graduated from, you are valuable. It cannot be calculated solely in dollars or job titles or rewards. Your worth and values matter to those around you.
Mackay’s moral: Stay true to your values and your value will shine through.
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Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Swim With Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”. He can be reached through his website, www.harveymackay.com, by emailing [email protected] or by writing to him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.