How to be valuable

As a human being, you are inherently valuable.  Nothing you do can change that.  Whether you are wildly successful in business or are the funniest person in the world, your intrinsic value does not change, nor does it change if you are an ax murderer or a brutal dictator.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of factors that can affect how others perceive your value.  The article addresses the question, "How can I feel more valuable?" by asking, "How can I provide value to others?"  

There's a good reason for this. We are social creatures, and we measure our worth by how others treat us. If we are valuable to them, they will treat us as such, and we will feel more valuable.

This creates a positive feedback loop. By investing in others, our own self-worth will increase.

So the question is, how can we provide value to others?

What providing value means

In researching these topics, sometimes I find the authors' words are so well written that I have to quote them.  Podcaster Carol Lynn Rivera set out to answer the question, "What Is Value, Really?" After listing a series of things, she concludes, "Value is all of those things, and none of those things."

In the end, the best I can do to sum up what value means is by saying that it’s giving people what they want. Not only that but giving them what they didn’t even know they wanted. It’s that little bit of je ne sais quoi that leaves people feeling, “Wow.”

I think that sums it up very well.  Of course, it still begs the question:

How do I know what they want?

Getting to know someone is the key.  This means genuinely being interested in them.  And how do we do that?  By considering the other person as a source of wealth. And as I pointed out in this article, investing in people is very much like investing in anything else. 

In that article, I discussed the Cohen-Bradford Influence Model and how it can help us identify the "je ne sais quoi"This French phrase basically means, "I can't put my finger on it." It's something that's hard to describe or express in words.  However, I try my best in this article to do just that. in each relationship.  The important factors are:

  1. What you can do for the other person, and
  2. What the other person values.

In reciprocal exchange, these two things become the "currency".  It's an effective way for you to invest in the relationship.

First, let's briefly examine the types of "currencies" that Cohen and Bradford say are useful in exchanging value with others.  They can be inspiration-, task-, position-, relation-, and personal-related.


These include:

  • Sharing a vision of something the other person can help accomplish.
  • Giving the person an opportunity to excel by using their talents to create something valuable.
  • Allowing the person to uphold their own ethical standards.


  • Helping the person obtain the resources or skills they need to accomplish a project.
  • Providing assistance personally or allocating personnel to help. 
  • Removing barriers to access, such as helping someone skip a waiting line. 
  • Providing inside information.


  • Letting superiors know about the person's accomplishments and abilities. 
  • Providing ways in which the person can be of service to such individuals.
  • Giving them access to the "inner circle," making them feel their efforts are recognized.
  • Providing connections to others that can help them.


  • Making them feel accepted and included.
  • Treating them with kindness. 
  • Listening with empathy. 
  • Supporting them on an emotional level.


  • Expressing gratitude. 
  • Giving them ownership and control of important tasks.
  • Affirming their self-worth, values, and identity.
  • Helping them solve a problem.

The other person can value any of the "currencies" on this list, but obviously not all of us can offer the same level of value in the first three categories.  In most cases, however, we are able to offer value in the last two categories.

Let's view this from another angle

Regardless of our status or level of achievement, there may be ways that we can:

  • Teach others
  • Inspire others
  • Empower others; help them make good decisions

We can give of ourselves:

  • Give of our time
  • Help them solve problems
  • Offer our expertise

We can make use of our social network:

  • Introduce them to someone who can help
  • Say a good word to the right person about them
  • Use our influence to help remove barriers

Never underestimate the power of kindness:

  • Look for ways to give others attention, acceptance, and approval
  • Learn how to listen without interrupting
  • Learn how to look for bids for connection and respond positively
  • Look for ways to commend others
  • Be willing to let others help

The last step is to manage other people's expectations.  Develop a reputation for doing quality work and being fair and helpful.  Be sure to follow through on your promises.

Then do even more.  Your perceived value increases greatly when you exceed their expectations. People are much more inclined to help you if they feel like you went the extra mile for them.  What matters is how they see things.  A modest amount of extra effort on your part can reap great dividends if the unexpected value you provide is important to them.  This includes giving people unexpected gifts.

Always remember that every human being, including yourself, has a very high intrinsic value.  If you treat people that way, even if they seem lowly or incapable of repaying you, others will come to be a source of great wealth for you.