Can you imagine learning your family sold an item that turned out to be almost priceless? (Technically, it sold for $450,300,000, so it wasn't priceless. Just really pricey.)

The family owned an value the family assumed was so far off the mark as to be on another planet. They thought it was something done by one of da Vinci's students.

And yet, when a 70-year-old retired library worker who was the heir learned this, she wasn't depressed. Instead, she was surprised and happy. "In my little humdrum retirement life you know, to have something this major happen, it's so exciting," Ms. Hendry Tureau told the Wall Street Journal.

She was probably disappointed not to have the windfall, but still kept a wonderful attitude.

Almost none of us really understand something incredibly important about value. Like beauty, it exists only in the eyes of the beholder.

Value can disappear in a moment. That just happened with drone company Airware, which shut down operations last week after having raised $118 million from major VC firms, as TechCrunch reported. The company's special software was made obsolete within just a few years by the offerings of commercial drone manufacturers.

Done in a crash landing seven years after its launch.

The value changed. In business, the world works in a mark-to-market reality. Something's worth is pegged to market expectations, which can shift in an eyeblink. People poured huge money into Theranos only to see it evaporate when it was clear they had invested in a story, not a real technology or business.

Basing value on any kind of market means you've let someone or something else decide what is important. There are times that can't be helped. But I've often seen people unnecessarily get badly tied up.

Self-employed people ask for what they're allowed to charge for their work. They forget that they offer something of value and need to communicate it to customers. Maybe the buyers won't perceive the same degree of worth. But if you don't try, you never know.

People get trapped by the expectations of the world in every part of their life. They go into work they hate, behave in ways they despise, and constantly look for validation. The right clothing, tastes in music, vacations -- and then wonder, after they seem to have it all, why they are unhappy.

Ms. Tureau likely would have enjoyed the hundreds of millions had they come to her. And yet, she appreciated the change in routine, the location as part of an unlikely story, and the delight in an artistic discovery.

If someone doesn't think your company is worth as much as you feel it should be, should that stop you from building a business? If your true pleasure isn't found in the size of your bank account or some other external, will you be ashamed?

To live and to work well means learning what is important to you and following that as a guiding star. Achieve such a direction and drive and you gain things that no one can take away.

Published on: Sep 19, 2018
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