In a recent twitter post I quoted a former mentor of mine saying,
“You’re currently being paid exactly what you are worth.”
I received a quick response from a follower of mine:
“Harsh but true.”
I was slightly taken back by the response because I made the post with a positive, motivational mindset. I guess its just how you look at your current situation.
If you are not currently making what you feel you are worth, then I guess the quote would be a little harsh. But the many times I have used this quote with employees or with myself, I have always looked at it a little differently.
It is a common mistake for us to confuse our self-worth with our worth in the business world. Your self-worth is your personal image or confidence in yourself and I hope you have a very high self-worth and value your unique individual talents and traits. However, your worth in the eyes of your employer or potential employers, clients, etc. is much different. True, your self-confidence can certainly help raise this worth, but it is not the final or most important factor.
I’ve always had a pretty decent level of self-confidence and I know I can be of value in almost any company because I dedicate myself, I work hard, and I always strive to learn more and grow. But I’ve never allowed that self-confidence to convince me that I am worth more than I actually am. I know that I can always improve and grow and I use this quote to remind myself of that every now and then. More importantly, I try very hard to be honest with myself and the honest truth is that most companies don’t need me. They may need someone with my skills and traits, but that doesn’t mean it has to be me. There are a lot of people out there who work hard, dedicate themselves to their projects and team, and who always strive to learn more and grow.
So why me?
Therein lies the key to making yourself worth more. What sets you a part from all the rest?
Here’s a hint: it’s not your college degree. One of my favorite sayings has always been “A college degree guarantees you one thing; you have a college degree.” In today’s competitive world a bachelor’s degree is carrying the same weight a high school diploma carried 10 years ago. Yes, it will get you in the door, but you need to remember when you walk into an interview, there have been 50 other college grads there and will probably be another 50 after you.
So I ask again, why me? Why you?
What will set you apart is you. Your personality, your social skills, your experiences, yourself. So now look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What am I worth to a company?”. Be honest. Its okay if you decide you’re not worth quite what you originally thought. That is actually good. That means you can be honest with yourself. Now figure out how to make yourself worth more to them.
Here are a few things that are good “worth-builders” for you:
(not sure if “worth-builders” is a word, but we’re going to go with it)
1. Management Experience (Leadership Experience)
Lets be honest; leadership is not for everyone and not everyone will be able to lead, regardless of how many books they’ve read. Businesses need people who can lead people. It doesn’t necessarily matter what level of management experience you have, but having at least some will boost your value in the eyes of potential employers. Since I was 18 and got promoted to Shift Manager at my local Arby’s, I have never worked a job where I was not in management. That position did not carry a ton of responsibilities, but it did give me experience in training, disciplining, supervising, and leading others. It also opened my eyes to the backend and bottom line of the business. I credit my success so far to my experiences there. If you don’t have any management experience, get some. How do you do that? Well, working hard and dedicating yourself to your duties is one way, but I’ll be posting another piece soon on that topic so stay tuned.
2. A Positive Attitude
I once had a employee tell me that I was the only manager she ever looked forward to working with and that when she would look at the schedule and see I was the one on her shift she actually got excited for work. I was obviously very flattered, but also a little confused. I was nothing special. I just came to work, had fun, and got my job done. I asked her why she felt the way she did about me and not the other managers what she said has stuck with me ever since. “You just make everyday better. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life or how you feel, you never let it change how you are here. You’re always so positive and it just seems like you care about us.” Having a positive attitude can change everything. Your mind is more powerful than you think and it can help you overcome so many obstacles. Leave your problems at home or in the car; scream at the mirror before getting out if you have to, but leave it out of your workplace. Instead, bring in positivity and watch it spread. Find ways to make others smile. And if you can make your boss smile, thats a good thing too.
I have a background in the music industry and one of my least favorite terms is “sell-out”. Most people use it to describe an artist who has become famous by losing sight of themselves or forgetting where they came from. I’ve never viewed it that way. I’ve always looked at those artists and thought, “yea, they sold out. They sold out to getting to where they can share their art with everyone.” Maybe they didn’t do it the way I would, but when it comes to music anyone who says they don’t want to be famous is lying to you. They want to be famous because being famous is how you share your art with the most people and how you do it for a living and forever. When it comes to your professional career you need to sell out. Whether you answer phones, sell door-to-door, or simply get coffee for your boss and his/her colleagues, sell out to it. Dedicate yourself completely to being the best at what you do. Ashton Kutcher had a pretty great speech at the Teen Choice Awards in which he said quite a few notable things, but one that you should remember is this: “I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than.” So no matter what your current job is, use it as a stepping stone to get to where you want. Dedicate yourself to it. People will notice, even if you don’t notice them noticing.
4. Willingness to take Criticism and Grow
If you think you deserve to be paid more than you are, step back and ask yourself why you are not there. Do yourself a favor; if the first thought you have is because of something someone else did or does, stop and think again. People are going to drag you down. It happens. The best way to change that is to get past it by improving yourself. If you don’t know why you haven’t gotten that raise or that promotion offer, find out. Ask your supervisor for some time and ask them what you can do better. Make sure that you listen with an open mind and take everything they say seriously. Then make yourself a list of everything they say and build a plan to improve on those things. Regardless of whether you agree with them or not, find a way to improve those areas and track your growth. You’ll have a way to show them that you can handle criticism, you want to grow, and you are dedicated to being better.
5. Ask Questions
I worked with a financial marketing firm when I was younger. One night a group of us were working pretty late to get a large amount of applications filed and submitted on time to meet a deadline. A co-worker and I decided to step out and get some food for everyone. I poked my head into the office of one of the high level executives to see if he wanted anything. He placed his order and I jokingly said “Can I get the keys?” while putting my hands out, prepared to receive the keys to his newly acquired Mercedes (which was priced close to $100k). The look on my face had to have been priceless when the keys hit my hands. I looked at him in shock and said “Seriously?”. His response changed my life forever; “That’s the power of asking.”
Best. Food. Run. Ever.
Do not be afraid to ask questions. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend asking to drive your boss’s car, but ask questions and get answers. It will show that you want to learn and you will do just that, learn. There are so many missed opportunities to learn in life simply because we’re too afraid to ask the questions. Don’t miss the opportunity. Ask questions and get yourself answers.
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