What can the price of a water bottle teach us about life and self-worth?

Have you ever observed that the price of a water bottle can vary substantially across different places? For example the price may be 99 cents in a US convenience store and may increase 4 times to $ 4 in an international airport. The spread can be 10 times in India. Even greater in other parts of the world.

It is the same bottle and same brand. Only the place of sale has changed. Now, what does this tell us? It has a powerful underlying message with respect to self-worth. If you are dejected that you are not appreciated at work or are underpaid, then you are absolutely right as you can only know your worth. No one else can. But how do you determine it with confidence? I would rely on past performance trends and data.

There is an excellent story around it. A man once approached Guru Nanak Sahib and inquired, what is the value of his life? Guru Nanak ji gave him a stone and told him to find the value without selling it. The man first approached an orange seller. On seeing the shiny stone the vendor proposed to give him 12 oranges. The man then went ahead to a vegetable seller and inquired regarding the value of the shiny stone. The vegetable seller offered one sack of potatoes in lieu of the stone. However, he was forbidden to sell it. Hence, he now moved on to a jewellery store and inquired regarding the value of the stone. The jeweler examined the stone closely. He further examined it under a lens and offered hundred thousand dollars. The man refused to sell as he was forbidden by Guru Nanak ji. The jeweler then made a counter offer of 10 million dollars for the stone. The man further went to a precious stone seller. He was amazed and said he could not purchase the stone as his entire wealth would not be enough.

The man then returned to Guru Nanak ji and received the lesson of his life. The Guru explained that people will value you similarly based on different parameters. These may be based on your financial status, information available, belief in you etc. However, you will soon find someone, who will arrive at a true value that you deserve. Thus, you should respect yourself and agree to a value only if your inner self accepts it. For it surely knows the true value. You are unique and no one can replace you !

Below are few pointers, which will help improve your own perception and confidence.

1. Improve your skills

The demand for skills would vary with times. As a strategy one should aim at re-skilling every three to five years. A simple Google or job search should be enough to shortlist the skills that are in demand in your domain . Thereafter just upskill via the various free or paid online resources available like Coursera, Unacademy, Upgrad, Edx etc.

You should consider yourself fortunate, if the organization you work for, provides training and upskilling opportunities. Make full use of the same and you will not regret it. Upgrading yourself also sends a message to the organization that you are serious about your career, which most likely should get rewarded. If this is not the case and no one appreciates the learnings you bring, it is clear that one should move on.

2. Become a part time entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship experience brings a lot of learnings, provided it is pursued with utmost sincerity. Even if one has a well paying job, still a side hustle is clearly recommended. One can start free or with a minimal investment. Blogging can be free via several platforms like Blogger, Medium, WordPress etc.

Similarly any creative side hustle can be done using Canva, which can be free to use. A You Tube channel can be created effortlessly with instant broadcast around the world. There are many examples of film makers, who made their debut in the platform, only to be recognized later by mainstream cinema.

Remember to be consistent for the entire period. It goes a long way in making your presence felt online. It goes with any offline venture also. It would serve you well to make a ‘to do’ list each week for the side hustle. Give it adequate time of approximately 2 years to blossom. This provided your efforts were consistent throughout.

3. Volunteer and help others in workplace

Volunteering in your organization helps in numerous ways. For starters, it will put you in the limelight and one may build excellent networks within the organization as well as outside. It will also help you build newer skills. E.g Organizing events, Public speaking, Writing, Photography etc.

Confidence is the single most important quality that one is able to develop by volunteering. Networking skills also improve and you are able to approach someone with great finesse. This is best learnt by observing people in public events. Who knows, it can even land you an interview in a different department.

4. Conclusion

Never let anyone else determine your value. As mentioned in the airport example above, a water bottle can have different price, depending on the location. Hence, keep hustling and looking out for opportunities. Be consistent and strive to keep improving. Chances are that someone will recognize the true value you bring. Who knows, you can even be ranked as one of the the hottest startups in the country.

Taking the first step in the most difficult. Muhammad Ali once said – ‘Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don’t be afraid to take that first step.’

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