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Your Existence Matters, but Your Work Is Always up for Debate

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Ontological value (how much your existence matters in a philosophical sense) is different from economic value (how much your work matters to someone you’re trying to impress for the sake of getting them to give you some of their money).
 
“I am special” ≠ “You owe me a salary.”
 
“You are special” ≠ “I owe you a salary.”
 
“You are just as important as anyone else” ≠ “Let me write you a check for that cool backflip you just did.”
 
When I woke up this morning, I felt like a million bucks. Are you going to give me a million bucks for that ecstatic feeling I had when I rolled out of bed? Probably not. I wouldn’t even hold my breath for a $5 gift card from Starbucks. My ecstasy means a lot to me, but very little to you. Unless I can translate my ecstasy into something that creates a little ecstasy on your end, you’re not giving me a dime.
 
Economic worth is a social game just as the concept of money is a social game.
 
If I say, “I’m worth X amount of dollars”, that would be in the same league as me saying “this sheet of paper is worth X amount of dollars” or “this tea leaf is worth X amount of dollars.” I can say it, but it doesn’t amount to anything until I can get someone to agree with my proposition.
Economic worth is an agreement between two or more parties. No single party gets to decide how much they, you, or anyone else is worth all by themselves.
 
Economic worth is the intersection between what one party is willing to work for and what another party is willing to pay for. To master money is to master that point of intersection.
 
Your existence matters, but if you want people to pay you, then you have to do work that matters…
 
…work that matters to someone else’s existence besides your own
 
…work that matters according to someone else’s definition of what matters.

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