Do You Know Your True Worth? How to Realize the Value in Your Potential

Do You Know Your True Worth? How to Realize the Value in Your Potential

Coin Jar - Your True Worth

Have you ever thought about your true worth?

Have you ever even heard of “true worth”?

True worth is something Dale Carnegie briefly mentions in his 1936 best seller,  How To Win Friends and Influence People. Though Carnegie didn't expand on this concept, it sparked an idea in my head, and I wanted to discuss it here and see how my thoughts and your ideas melded together. I encourage and welcome your comments below.

To examine this concept of true worth a little deeper, let’s start by dissecting the phrase.


True – By definition, something true is real, genuine, authentic, sincere, loyal, faithful, and steadfast. Something that is true is legitimate and rightful, it is reliable and unfailing, and it is exact and accurately shaped. Truth means honesty, honor and being in accordance with the actual state or condition of things. Lastly, if something is true, it is straight and unwavering, like an arrow flying at a target.

If we are looking at your “true” worth, we have to take all of these things into account and not simply look at specific things through blinders or rose-colored glasses.

Your true worth will come from your whole self; forget about your salary because your worth isn't about money.

Do you think of yourself in terms of money?

Do you see yourself as a $40k a year person? What about a $140k a year person?

Forget about the money in the bank and see yourself for who you are as a person, as a leader, and as an intelligent being.

In the process of developing your true worth, look at what makes you who you are. In the past, we've discussed Time + Effort = You.

Who are you on the weekends and after work?

What are your passions and what do you dream about?

All of these things are part of your true self. Maybe it’s something you've created that is who you truly are. It could also be something that you love doing or something that you believe in.

Your true worth has to take into account your thoughts, your ideas, your actions and your beliefs. Without examining all of these things, you'll never be able to determine your true worth.


Worth – Similar to value, worth is typically an expression of a dollar amount you would exchange for a product or service. The worth of something is its intrinsic or marketable value. If something has worth, it has a measurable value that you could exchange for the item.

So why is this important to you?

Worth is important to you because it’s part of who we are, as a society, as individuals and as a member of our community.  We assign worth to things all the time.

We say things like

That's not worth my time.

This car is not worth the money.

The extra salary is not worth the time I'd have to spend away from my family.

In each of these cases, we are evaluating the worth of an activity or object in reference to other activities or objects. Your true worth will be defined, calculated and established by looking at your skills and abilities, taking stock of who you are as a person and what you offer to the world.

Part of this process will be to look at where you are in life, both professionally and personally, to evaluate if you're maximizing your potential.

Part of this process will involve examining your strengths and weaknesses, again, both personally and professionally. And part of this process may directly lead to you making a change.

An example of this and those of you who know me know that I love extreme analogies, might be a doctor working the grill at Sonic. This doctor may be an expert surgeon (high worth in the right environment) but making hamburgers, he carries the same value as the high school student working his first job.

Our true worth can only be realized in the right environments. If you feel like you are undervalued, that your true worth is not being evidenced, it may be time for a change.

Businesses have become, and have to be, experts in assigning worth. This is where most of you will relate to and find value in this article. You, as an employee, want to make as much money as possible and to receive compensation for your (perceived) true worth.

On the other hand, your employer is trying to minimize costs in order to maximize profits, therefore establishing and growing the company's worth. You have to figure out what your true worth is and what you can do about it.

To me it’s not worth the money to travel 300 days out of the year and the extra salary but to not have the ability to be home every night with my family and the ability to sit out on my porch and develop myself and those around me.

So how do you define, calculate and establish your true worth?

Grab a pen and some paper and continue.

List the things at which you excel both personally and professionally. Don't leave anything off because this list is part of who you are.

Think about skills, talents, and abilities. Write down what has given you successes in the past.

Think about things you've done to complete a complex project or meet a deadline.

List talents you employed to lead a team or raise your children. Think about good habits that you have or what abilities you possess that have brought you to where you are in life.

List the things at which you don't excel, again, both personally and professionally. This is where you'll have to be honest with yourself and take stock of areas where you can improve.

If you're not honest with yourself at this point, put that on this list and start there!

Could you be more patient, more understanding or more willing to help others?

Are you a negative person?

Are you too sarcastic?

Do you only see the glass as half-empty or the world as only a place of turmoil?

Here's a tough one: are you too optimistic and see things only through rose-colored glasses?

Do you need to work on your ability to accurately assess situations and evaluate the course of action?

This could be a long list or a short one, but it’s a list not of negative things about you but areas of personal and professional growth. Some things on this list could be things you simply need to work on improving; others may be habits you need to eliminated.

Look at your position in the market. This could be your job market, or it could be your home market. For this article, we'll stay fairly close to your professional and job market.

Though I will say this: skills at home don't always translate into skills at work. I'll let you examine that statement and evaluate that on your own.

If you'd like to discuss further, click on the “contact us” tab at the top of your page and I'd be more than happy to discuss it with you.

For your job market, are your skills and attributes what they need to be to be successful at your current job? What about the next job that you're working toward. If they are, you're true worth will be higher than if they are not. Think of the surgeon making hamburger example.

These two lists combined with where you are in the market will give you an idea of your true worth.

You have a list of areas where you're strong and have excelled and you have a list of areas for improvement or elimination. Combine the two and you have a good picture of what you offer to those around you and can illustrate in a conversation and a list of things that you can work on and have people coach you on improving. Leverage these two lists to position yourself within your market.

Now that we've defined your true worth we need to calculate and establish it.

To calculate your true worth, you have to know what people are willing to give you for your particular skill set. This doesn't have to be but is most commonly financial compensation.

What are employers willing to pay you for your time? You can look at your current paycheck and the expected paycheck at your next position. What unique worth or value do you bring to the job?

Here's another tough question: could your company pay someone less to do the same job?

When calculating your true worth in the marketplace, knowing what you bring to the table and what sets you apart will be critical. When you last asked for a raise or a promotion, what was the answer? If the answer was a flat “no”, did you ask why or why not?

If the answer was “no” your perceived true worth may not be in alignment with your company's perceived true worth of you. At this point, you can either decide to grow as a person and increase the worth your company places on you, or you can do nothing. It could also be a situation where there is no additional money to pay you an additional salary. Stay positive!

Before moving on, make sure you understand this: your true worth is not determined by external factors such as a company's willingness to pay you more. Your true worth is how you value yourself; you may simply be in the wrong job if your true worth is not being compensated for.

To establish your true worth, you must have done everything else up to this point so that you can move forward. Determining your true worth, to me, is getting your personal brand positioned in such a way that it gets you to your next level. I can help you with that!

Take the example of Jeremy Lin. His true worth was significantly more than being a third-string basketball player.

Was he being compensated for it? Probably not.

Up until a few weeks ago he had not established his true worth with the rest of his team and to the coaches and recruiters.

This could be your situation and is the situation of the burger-flipping surgeon. To establish your true worth, you must have advocates of and believers in your personal brand. You must have other people, besides yourself, state that you're worth keeping around and that you have talents worth paying for.

Remember, no one will take your career more seriously than you do; you may have to be your advocate.

The final step in establishing your true worth is establishing a quantifiable denomination in relation to your personal brand. In short, you have to be able to tell a story of results. In Jim Rohn's words, “Results is the name of the game.” He further defines results as the ability to “make measurable progress in reasonable time.”

If you are going to sell your true worth to a manager when asking for a raise, or to a new boss in negotiating a salary, you have to be able to tell the story of your true worth and how your actions directly led to measurable results.

If you increased sales, quantify that. If you reduced costs, quantify that. If you increased productivity on your team, brought in additional advertising revenue or educated more students this year than last year, quantify that.

While we would all like to be paid on how we make people feel, emotions are harder to quantify than numbers. Tells your results story and show your true value by developing your personal brand.

Finally, while our true worth is subjective and something we have to determine for ourselves, we still aspire to make a mark on the world and have others notice us. We, as humans, typically strive for recognition, we hope to leave the world in a better place, and we want others to recognize our talents, skills, and abilities. Just as people have to follow you before you can lead, having others recognize your accomplishments is required for success.

Share your personal brand with others and increase your true worth. Make the world better through your actions. Develop yourself and grow as a person.

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  • cevers072 says:

    Knowing your true worth in the workplace and in the job you hold today is key to shaping your career path.

    • ellorywells says:

      I completely agree! Thank you for your comment. I also invite you to share any experiences you may have had in relation to your True Worth.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

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