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Lesson 3c: Self-Worth

Objective: Differentiate between self-worth and net worth
"Don't confuse fame with success.  Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other."
- Erma Bombeck

In our society, there is a tendency to equate net worth with self-worth, rather than recognizing the distinct difference between the two.  Net worth is an external measure of how much money one may or may not have, while self-worth in an internal measure of how one feels about himself.  If we as a society base our self-worth on our net worth, only a few people would feel really good about themselves (e.g., Bill Gates, Warren Buffet). 

There are many differences between self-worth and net worth. We sometimes blur the line between the two because we see "climbing the corporate ladder" as a value of our worth.  We believe that climbing the corporate ladder gives us self-worth when it really only provides us net worth.  Some of the distinguishing characteristics between self-worth and net worth are:

Net Worth
Internal measure
External, numeric measure
Born with it
Can be inherited or acquired
Based on feelings of deservability
Based on earnings
Comes from internal decision
Comes from outside
Can only come from inside you
Can take it from others
Measures self-love
Measures wealth
Creates happiness
Creates an image of happiness

Note, self-worth is internal while net worth is external.

Exercise: Take a few minutes and reflect on how you have measured your self-worth via your job, your money, or your position in society.  Ask yourself how you feel about others around you that have better jobs, more money, or higher positions in society.

Why is self-worth important?

"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
- Albert Einstein

As a manager, I could tell immediately who had self-worth and who did not.  I could tell by looking in their eyes the pride and confidence that they had about themselves, even if they were college graduates, with no money.  Those with self-worth and confidence were the ones that were hired.  So self-worth can help build your net worth.  Yet, your net worth does not build your self-worth - it only creates an illusion of self-worth.  In order to change your net worth, you need to start with your self-worth, not the other way around.

Life is not about accumulating wealth and possessions, because in the end, you can not take them with you.  However, many are still playing the game to a certain extent.  We feel a false sense of safety by having a large net worth or more wealth than our neighbor.  I call this a false sense of safety because wealth can change in an instant.  During the stock market decline in 2000 to 2002, investors lost close to $6 trillion in the U.S. stock market according to the Federal Reserve.  A painting worth millions could be worth a few dollars if no one wants to buy it.  Anyone can lose their entire fortune due to a con game.  No matter how good our security systems are that protect our wealth, someone will always find a way around them.  Wealth is temporary.  Self-worth is not.  Wealth is nice to have and can bring temporary pleasure, but strong self-worth is the key to true happiness.

So should one avoid wealth?  NO, just keep it in perspective.

Personal Topic : Increasing Self-Worth
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