"The times, they are a changing." Bob Dylan wrote those words more than a half century ago, but they are at least as accurate now as they were then.
"The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind." That was Bob Dylan, too, at about the same time. In today's economy, that one is more true.
We are no longer a Western economy or even an American one. We are truly connected to each other in a global way. Meteorologists tell us that the wind blowing through the California Redwoods one day is the same wind blowing across the plains of Siberia the next. So go on and get used to it. Take a big, deep breath of Siberian air. We are all in this together.
Lets go back a few years beyond Dylan. Try this, from Hamlet …
"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing … end them."
When situations change (as they always do), the rules are sometimes changed as well. What was red one day might be green the next. What was down is up, right is left, and we can become so discouraged and confused that we are tempted to simply lie down, cry, and resign ourselves to a lifetime of slings and arrows.
Truth, on the other hand, never changes. Life's principles remain steadfast in good times and bad. Therefore, I am reminding us all that now is not the time for fear or inaction … now is the time to "take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing … end them."
Yes, you will need to act. But first … think.
Prospering in today's economy will require an extraordinary examination of your personal commitment to "the truth" as it relates to your industry in general and your own business or job specifically. In dealing with clients from many different backgrounds, I have noticed that quite often, we do not make decisions according to what is true. Rather, we make decisions according to what we want to be true. Or what we wish were true. This is usually a recipe for disaster.
Remember the eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not kid thyself.
Simply put, in today's global economy, what is your value? How much are you worth? The question is worth the time you might take to get an accurate answer. Most folks are subconsciously asking the questions "How much can I get?" or "What can I persuade someone to pay me?" or "How much can I charge?" or "How much do people like me traditionally make?"
The question that will lead you to the best decisions, however, is "What is my value to this situation, to this person, to this business?"
Know this: the only people who will never fail—even in bad economic times—are the people who accurately discern their value or the value of their product and can prove that value to their customers. Yes, sometimes value is a perception, but even perceived value can be agreed upon by millions of people at once.
As an author and speaker, I am tasked with the dual responsibility of knowing the value of a specific product (a book) and of a service (a speaking engagement). To find the answers blowing in my financial wind, I need to be certain that I know the truth about my value in these areas. Can a person pay the price of The Traveler's Gift and after reading it, feel happy in the knowledge that he or she got their money's worth? Was the value there? Was what they learned and were able to apply in their life and business worth twenty dollars? If so, the books will continue to sell.
If a company pays a certain amount for me to speak or do a seminar and they can track the production and profit that occurred after I spoke, does that benefit me or is it a harbinger of bleak times to come in my career? Did they ultimately make more money with my information and direction than they paid me to speak? Was the value there? If so, I will continue to be booked.
In tough economic times, I suspect there are few corporations who can afford to have a speaker merely as entertainment or "because we've always had a speaker". Therefore, I must honestly ask the question, "What is my service worth? Am I providing value well beyond cost?"
We want to provide value in all areas of our lives. We should strive to provide value as a neighbor and friend, as a member of our church or civic organization, and to our families. I want to provide value to you. That is a primary motivation for me as I post these blogs. I must continue to show value to my wife. So far, she has stayed with me for almost twenty years and seems to be happy. So there must be value to her in our relationship beyond the vows we took. (Frankly, I am thrilled with the value Polly continues to show me!)
Obviously, in a correspondence of this sort, we are all working together. I don't know enough about your life's situation to guide the specific questions you must ask in our current economic climate. I only know that you must ask questions. Seek the truth about yourself, your products, your service… The quality of your answers can only be determined by the quality of your questions. Do you want good answers in your life? Ask good questions.
And start with this one … How much am I worth?