In my new book Bring Your Worth, I share the ways we undervalue what we bring to the world.  The problem is never other people, though. People can say what they want. It is up to us to decide to believe them.

The challenge is even harder when you are a creator.

Rapper turned business mogul Jay-Z articulated the issue in a classic Power 105.1 The Breakfast Club interview. I included the Instagram clip, but here's the juicy quote:

They are like, "You're an artist. You shouldn't have money!" [and you're like] "I'm an artist. I don't want any money. I want to be a pure artist!"

Why we get confused

The fundamental flaw in our thinking is we believe we have to suffer to truly bring our best. The entrepreneur who sacrifices their family life to build a unicorn? The businessperson burning bridges to succeed? The guy who almost died for his startup? They get the attention, and on goes the mythology.

We don't talk about the person who stayed balanced and made an impact in the world.

At least, until now.

We're realizing comfort does not equal laziness and contribution does not equal sacrifice. It directly links to money, too, as, for most of us, having a livable salary affects our ability to produce.

When a business partner (and, as I say in Bring Your Worth, all your contracts are partnerships) undervalues your service, then they are not respecting your ability to produce, as they are not giving you what you need to create. It's like neighborhood kids stealing from the local supermarket, then feeling angry when it closes up shop. You aren't holding up your end of the partnership when you aren't helping the partner function.

Give something, get something

Your business may not be able to give a partner what they are worth, or another business may not have the capability to give you what you truly need. There are many reasons, from budget limitations to conflicts of interest. That's OK.

What matters is how you or the other partner making up the difference by:

  • Bartering services
  • Actively expanding their network

Or, just wait until you have the resources to actually give what one is worth. I consciously stopped partnerships last year because I couldn't give them what they were worth. I even explained it to them, and was thankful that they understood. I was even more thankful that they didn't try to negotiate down their own worth just to sustain the connection.

If someone is trying to convince you to take less than your value, then be honest about your own worth. And if you still feel shortchanged, then make peace with either taking a short-term gain for a potentially trendsetting decision or taking a brief loss for a potentially long-term gain. Don't judge yourself over your decision. The important part is to recognize that it is a decision.

And no one else will tell you that it is your decision.