Why I Haven’t Been Asking For What I’m Worth
I woke up one morning last week and realized I’m not living at full intensity in some areas of my life.
I’m letting myself down because I’m not asking for what I’m worth and it’s causing stress, discomfort and restriction in my mind and body.
From a business perspective, I recognize the value of charging for what I’m worth while embracing my fears at the same time. This can be easier said than done.
Asking for what I’m worth isn’t a random number, nor is it about how much I can charge. I’m committed to delivering the highest amount of value possible to my clients. That’s my starting point for how much to charge. Each client has unique needs and my proposal depends on how much work is involved, the complexity of their situation, and time considerations.
My client receives value when I coach them deeply to gain personal insights, which facilitate transformation and improves not just their health, but all areas of their life.
The value I offer people I work with comes from years of life experience, on-going higher education, practical application and client results, and, over the last 14 years, well over $200,000 invested in all aspects of developing my skills and growing my business.
What Are Your Fears Around Asking for What You’re Worth?
I’m not afraid of a rejection in the form of a “no.”
Of course I don’t want to hear a “no,” but who does? However, a “no” won’t make me shrink back into my shell unable to speak to the next person. A “no” is an opportunity for that person to engage me at another time, or for another person to say, “yes.”
My fear comes from not believing whole-heartedly in my worth and skills based on stories from my past. (Wow! That just showed up in the real-time writing of this post!)
I grew up as the weakling, the sickly child, the hyper ADHD kid, the outcast, the faggot, the dyslexic, and the almost-failure at high school (I barely graduated with a 51% average).
In the summer after High School (1984) I came out and embraced my sexuality. I worked for over a year and then backpacked across Europe, Israel and Egypt for four months. Back home I went to cooking school (1986) and easily made the Dean’s list. I loved cooking but discovered that I didn’t want to be a chef. Next, I went to university and was again on the Dean’s list for every undergraduate year. I eased into a Master’s of German Language and Linguistics and was awarded a full scholarship and teaching assistantship. Finally, I applied to study in Germany and was awarded a full scholarship that covered my expenses for a year abroad (1992-1993).
My focused actions over eight years of higher education lead to being rewarded for the value I delivered in the form of a consistent A- average.
A Simple Trick to Deal with Self-Doubt
When you doubt yourself try this exercise.
Make a list of positive aspects for the area in which you think you’re weak, no good, or however you phrase it.
When I did this exercise and listed my intellectual triumphs, above, I thought, “Damn! Was I ever smart! Why am I doubting my abilities?”
This was an important self-realization. It’s not that I was stupid at high school. I was a loner from grade 9 to 12 and wasn’t very happy until grade 13 when I finally made a great group of friends. Five years of high school proved to be a learning environment that didn’t work well for me.
When I pursued higher education and took courses that I was totally passionate about, I got an entirely different result. I was able to learn in a way that best suited my learning and comprehension styles.
But I left out the failure part of that story…
I Thought I Was a Scholar
I never completed my Master’s degree because my thesis topic was too challenging and I couldn’t prove it.
The proposal that won me the full scholarship could have been revolutionary, if only I could have proved it.
After almost two years of trying different approaches, including two different thesis topics, I finally quit when my advisor and mentor, Jutta Goheen, told me it was ok to stop. She told me I didn’t have to please her (even though I wanted to, because I admired her) and that withdrawing from my Master’s didn’t constitute being a failure (even though I felt like the biggest loser). I felt like I wasn’t smart enough (yet again) to finish my Master’s.
In the two year period after returning from Germany and eventually quitting my Master’s I felt like a failure and I suffered a mild depression. My relationship with my partner ended badly, mostly because I was so unhappy that I stopped loving myself. When you can’t love yourself, you can’t completely love anyone else.
That period of my life was a huge blow to my ego and self-esteem. I left high school feeling like a stupid fucking loser. I had almost eight years of proving to myself how intellectually capable I was, only to quit and once again feel like a stupid fucking loser.
Re-frame Your Past Stories to Move Forward
I realize I have a lot of stories wrapped up around my “smarts” that have been holding me back. I probably always will, but this self-reflection, in the form of an article, is my way of working through these stores so I can re-frame them.
So how do you re-frame your past stories to get a different result?
FIRST, OBSERVE WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED.
I maintained a consistent A- average in every year of post-secondary education and was awarded various scholarships and bursaries because of my grade point average. That’s a huge achievement! That is something I need to remind myself of when doubting myself.
SECOND, WHAT WAS THE PROCESS THAT LED TO THE ACHIEVEMENT?
The process of scholarship involves years of applied study, research, regular discipline, deep comprehension, attending course, writing essays and exams.
This process took place for hours every day, every week, and every month, cumulating in the achievement of an A- average every semester.
It is this eight year process that I need to recognize and celebrate as my accomplishment, not the single moment I decided to officially withdraw from my Master’s.
Recognizing my success is found in the process, the daily actions that lead to my accomplishment of an A- average is an important and necessary distinction.
I didn’t fail because I wrote a bad thesis. I didn’t fail because I was lazy and didn’t do my research. I didn’t fail because I withdrew from my Master’s.
I didn’t fail on any account!
Instead, I excelled in the process of being a student. I created a thesis proposal and was awarded $10,000 (back in 1992) to study in Germany. I did the work, read, researched, created outlines, attended classes, met with my advisor, attended a conference, and did a month of research at the University of Amsterdam. After about five months I came to the realization that I could not prove my thesis.
WORTH AND FAILURE ARE DEEP EMOTIONS
Self-worth involves many emotions. I had associated scholarly success with being able to label myself a “Master’s Graduate.” I had created emotional attachments to that outcome and to future stories of being awarded a full scholarship to pursue my PhD at a prestigious American University. Oh the hubris of proving how smart I was!
Going deeper into emotional intelligence in the area of self-worth and failure is the subject of another article. The point here is that it requires a certain amount of discipline to distance yourself, to pull back from your perceived failure and to observe it in a logical way.
This is what I’ve done by observing the process involved in my scholarship. It has helped to create a lighter feeling within me as I write this. In fact, I just took a deep, slow, filling breath, and then I let it go. I let go of the heaviness of that failure story. It’s never going to affect me in the same way again.
Making Money Has Nothing to Do with How Smart You Are
My story about “how smart I am” has been holding me back the most around creating money in my business. Not feeling worthy is a kind of lack, and that lack has translated into a lack of financial abundance.
Abundance is a mindset, it’s the awareness and acceptance that the fullness of life is both within you and all around you. As Eckhart Tolle says in, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,
“Both abundance and scarcity are inner states that manifest as your reality.”
When I stated thinking about his last week I had $500 remaining on my credit card. I sat wondering how I was going to create more money this month to pay my bills. Ironically, my biggest upcoming bill is for my involvement in a Business and Money Mindset coaching program!
I’m taking complete ownership for my actions, choices, thoughts, and word selection. I own this old story and I can re-write it!
It’s important to make the distinction between process and outcome.
With the process described above, I can assess if I did honest, good work, and I can reflect on my accomplishments. Those eight years of study have helped form who I am today. They have helped me to create an abundance of awareness, skills, strategies, and so much more. These are my gifts, my worth that I have to offer in exchange for what I can charge.
When I consider that eight year investment of time in my personal and intellectual growth, the weight of that investment far outweighs the decision to quit my Master’s.
You Can’t Control the Outcome, But You Can Control Your Actions
Any outcome is out of my control. I can only do the work that is part of a particular process and aim for the target, or the goal.
If I don’t reach the target I can assess my process and completed tasks to determine if I could have done anything differently.
In the case of my Master’s thesis, I did all I could have done, and more. My thesis was unprovable and from the beginning, but I had to go through the process to discover that fact.
Eureka! I had to do enough research in order to prove or disprove my thesis. That is the whole point of a thesis! Therefore I didn’t fail!
Transform the Past Into a Prosperous Present
I’m learning something new.
Essentially I’m still writing a thesis, but this time it’s in the form of a proposal for each new client.
I do my research in the form of a deep coaching consultation. My work requires that I take the time to focus completely on the person in front of me. My role as your coach is to help you experience a powerful shift or to take action that will translate into a transformation in your health and wellbeing. From there I can make a proposal based on the information gathered in the consultation and follow-up stages.
Using this process I realize I now have the confidence to speak with more people and to invite them to a deep conversation. Going back to the beginning of this article, I am learning and practicing how to charge what I’m worth based on the incredible value I can offer the potential client in front of me.
A “no” is not a failure. It’s not a reflection of me or my abilities.
A “no” is part of the potential client’s story and my role is to help re-frame that story to find out if we want to work together.
A “no” means that I’m in the process of taking action. It means I working to help others transform their health and wellbeing.
Bring on the “no’s”. I can’t control the outcome, but I can control what I do in the process.