Pieces of the Personal Effectiveness Puzzle, #6: Create and Contribute Value for Other People

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 19, Issue No. 10b
February 15, 2021

By Dan Coughlin


In the first five pieces of the personal effectiveness puzzle, I focused on what happens inside of you. Your focus, ability to say no, mental development, purpose, and ego are the topics we have focused on so far. And we have more internal work coming up. But today we shift from focusing on you to focusing on other people.

To be personally effective means to achieve a desired result. It’s not about living in a vacuum or on an island. It’s about moving toward a desired outcome. Being effective with other people means to help them achieve what they want to achieve.

Here are two of my favorite quotes on creating value for other people:

Jackie Robinson said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

No matter how much we develop ourselves it won’t matter unless we take the value we have generated and contribute it to other people. This is true in our personal lives and in our professional lives.

So what is value?

Value is anything that increases the chances that a person will have what he or she wants to have.

Make a list of what people want in every aspect of their lives. Start with yourself and write down what you want. Seriously, give this a try. Next to each category, write down what you want:

  • Mentally
  • Physically
  • Socially
  • Professionally
  • Financially
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Community
  • Spiritually

And now think about what other people want in each of those areas. Write down what comes to mind.

Value is anything that increases the chances that a person will have what he or she wants to have. Anything that will help a person have what he or she wants to have in his or her life will be of value to that person.

Make a list of what would be of value to other people in helping them to have what they want.

You might write down a comfortable car to get them where they want to go, a smile to brighten their day, a word of encouragement, someone who really listens to them, a piece of knowledge they need to get what they want, a warm coat, and an opportunity to show what they are capable of doing.

Then keep writing. Keep adding to your list.

Pretty soon you will realize that there are literally an infinite number of tangible and intangible things that can be of value to other people.

Create Value for Other People

Now make a list of what you specifically can create, do, or improve that would be of value to other people.

You might write down a handwritten letter of appreciation to someone in your life, an improved skill that can add value at work, a follow-up phone call with a customer, an innovative product that you could design, really listening empathetically to someone in a meeting, and a well-organized report that can help people to understand what has been done and what could be done in the future.

You’ll quickly notice that you could create, do, or improve an almost infinite number of things that would be of value to other people. I encourage you to focus on just a few, maybe 5-7, ways that you can be of value to other people. Get really good at adding value in those ways, but also be open to adding value to other people in other ways as you move throughout your day.

Contribute the Value that You Can Contribute

Don’t just be a value creator. Be a value contributor.

There is so much value that you can contribute to other people, and the key is to actually contribute it. At times, this may be uncomfortable or difficult. Sometimes people will reject the value that you have to offer, or they will insult you for the value that you tried to contribute. Or they will laugh at you, or they will say mean things to other people about your efforts.

That’s okay. Keep contributing. Maybe you need to make an adjustment in what you are delivering or in how you are delivering it or to whom you are delivering it. Keep refining your efforts as a value creator and contributor, but please don’t ever stop trying to contribute value.

It is in creating and contributing value that our lives gain meaning and significance. And somewhere along the way you will receive value for the value you contribute. That value to you can be in the form of stronger relationships, a greater sense of self-worth, and/or material gains.

Keep your focus on value contribution rather than on your personal rewards, and life has a way of sending value back to you.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at dan@thecoughlincompany.com with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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