Does anyone else recall the joy and wonder that we experienced in math class?

Ha.

I count myself lucky that I had a good run of math teachers that were able to see me through that tumultuous journey filled with booby traps of variables and the order of operations. Most of us only recall countless hours of confusion. Math for most is the worst. Almost no one likes to deal with complicated arithmetic or intricate formulas or finding “x.”

Screw. “x.”

Remember groans we or our classmates made along the lines of “WHEN are we ever going to use this?”?

And if we HAVE to use it in the future, why couldn’t everything be simple like when we started with addition and subtraction?

I’ve got good news for you: your life can be that simple.

I was about 75% done with another work related blog post when I realized what a load of garbage it was. I’ve found in my teaching and coaching of others, I’m often sharing lessons and ideas that I myself need to heed and exercise myself. I needed to filter what I put out into the world so I’m not wasting my (and more importantly) your time should you have chosen to spend these five or so minutes with me. I want to make sure that even if only one person reads my words, I’m contributing something  positive to their day.

So what is value? I decided to go super basic and ask the dictionary. *ahem*

value – noun

1. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth or usefulness of something. “your support is of great value”synonyms: worth, usefulness, advantage, benefit, gain, profit, good help, merit
2. a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgement of what is important in life. “they internalize their parents’ rules and values”synonyms: principles, ethics, moral code, morals, standards, code of behavior

Ok…let’s get crazy and take it a step further.

value – verb

1. estimate the monetary worth of (something). “his estimate was valued at \$45,000”synonyms: evaluate, assess, estimate, appraise, price
2. consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have high opinion of. “she had come to value her privacy and independence”synonyms: think highly of, have a high opinion of, hold in high regard, rate highly, esteem, put stock in, appreciate, respect

Hopefully I didn’t lose you with that diversion, but I think a basic reminder of the word and it’s meaning is important.

When I take a look and assess these definitions, a couple of words, specifically ones found in the synonym sections, really stand out to me and make filtering life much simpler.

1. usefulness
2. put stock in
3. respect

So with that I ask you the following question:

“Is what I’m doing (no matter what it is) adding value to my situation or to my environment?”

This, of course, is pretty vague, but if you change value for the three bolded words above in some form or fashion, it creates a very simple and powerful triad to managing your life better.

Useful is a great filter for your work life and goals. Are the small choices you’re making day in and day out adding together in a useful way to achieve a specific goal? Is what you’re about to say on that conference call useful or are you just saying it to have a presence?

All of us can see right through your paper thin talking points. Trust me.

What about stock? There’s the obvious connection to value and money with that synonym which is why this falls in line with financial strategies and goals. Is watching hours up on hours of television or browsing social media putting stock into my overall future?

Disclaimer – Don’t get me wrong – I probably have an unhealthy addiction to Instagram. So much so that my motivation for following people shifted from those that inspired me to those that were funny, successful or attractive. I started assessing myself based on the highlight reels presented before me and what started as an innocent connection transitioned to me devaluing my own self-worth based on my comparison to their (presented and filtered) life experience. I devalued my own stock, if you will.

What I could be doing with that time instead was reading a new book that might change or enhance my way of thinking. One day I would like to start my own business and spending my spare moments wasting time is no path to success with that dream. Back in the days when I was trying to get out of debt, sitting at home doing nothing instead of taking on a second job like I did would have kept me in debt literally years longer.

Finally, what might be the most important filter, respect is something that would benefit us all. Truth be told I learned this lesson a few years ago. I was sitting amongst a group of “friends” and the topic of conversation shifted to one (actual) friend of mine that was not there. As we sat around the room everyone had something negative to say about him and the priorities he was making in his life. It was sickening and I finally manned up and asked everyone to change the subject and have some respect for the man that they call “friend.”

It was liberating. I also was liberated from that friend group. It was mutual. I had decided that I no longer wanted to surround myself with people that felt comfortable disrespecting someone they claimed to care about so easily.

I sometimes struggle with adding respect to the world around me. We all have our petty moments and I will not throw stones claiming I’m guilt free of this crime. But in recent months I’ve tried to be really intentional with the words I use and feelings I express to others.

Is my thought or opinion respectful? Is it encouraging others to be respectful? If the situation had something to do with someone else directly, would I be able to say what I’m feeling to their face? It’s easy to talk about and discuss on paper, but putting it into action is a completely different ball game.

Take these opinions for what they are. I felt compelled to write all of this down primarily because I needed to remind myself of them. For me, every morning I have to start with the intention of filling my day with adding value to the world around me.

I’ve learned it’s not easy and I’m not perfect – but neither was arithmetic. So keep it simple and start adding value.

The benefits are exponential – see what I did there? #mathpun

David