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As he lay dying, a father gave a watch to his son. “Here is a watch your grandfather gave me,” he said. “It is almost 200 years old. Go to the jewelry store and see how much they offer you.”
The son went to the jewelry store, came back to his father, and said, “They offered $100 because it is so old.”
The father said, “Well, try the pawnshop.”
The son came back later and said, “The pawnshop offered only $20 because it 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, willing to act on his last wishes, he went to the museum. When he came back, he said to his father, “The curator offered me $375,000 to include this very rare piece in their precious antique collection.”
The father responded, “I wanted to show you that the right place will value you in the right way. Don’t find yourself in the wrong place and get angry because you are not valued. Never stay in a place where someone doesn’t see your value, or you don’t feel appreciated.”
His message is a commencement address of sorts, no matter what your stage of life, job situation, or even age. I share this advice with my own children and grandchildren, people whom I mentor, and anyone who is wondering what to do next with their lives.
I feel so strongly about it that I wrote a book, “You Haven’t Hit Your Peak Yet,” filled with encouraging examples of what can be possible when you collect your confidence and take inventory of your unique skills and abilities.
We might feel that we are worthless, but no matter what has happened or what will happen, we will never lose our value. We are still priceless to those who love us. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do, or whom we know, but by who we are. We are special. Don’t ever forget it.
We can all use a boost in our self-confidence or self-worth occasionally. Lately, I’m sensing this even more with the state of our country and the economy. Even the great ones need a pat on the back at some point.
What is really important to you? How do you want to conduct your life? What are you willing to do – or not do – to have the life you want?
It is reasonable to expect that most adults will do their best to do the right thing. And that has taken on new importance in the world we live in, where our words and deeds are often subject 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.
So, we go back to the “commencement” address.
Newly minted graduates, the ink barely dry on their diplomas, are starting careers and hoping their educations have prepared them for the challenges ahead. Will they know their value, and their values, as they move into the work world and face questions that they have never had to answer?
Job hunters of all ages, flaunting years of experience and the battle scars to prove it, wonder what direction their work lives should be taking and whether a career change could best fulfill their goals. Many already know their value, but are they prepared to defend their values in a new environment?
And on the other end of the spectrum, those who are preparing for retirement after years of both stunning achievements and utter disappointments, reflect on what they are proud of and what they wish they could change. Do they realize the value they brought to their workplaces and the people they worked with? Are they satisfied that their values were evident and respected?
No matter what stage of life you are graduating from, you have value. It cannot be calculated only in dollars or job titles or awards. Your value, and your values, matter to those around you.
Mackay’s Moral: Stay true to your values and your value will shine through.
Reprinted with permission from nationally syndicated columnist Harvey Mackay, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” and the new book “We Got Fired!…And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us.”


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