WHEN ASKED about one of the best pieces of advice he’d ever been given, Tony Robbins offered a gem he’d received from one of his mentors, Jim Rohn:
“If you focus on adding more value than anyone else, you’ll never have to worry about anything.”
It was a year or so ago when I first heard this. I remember being struck at the time by how staggeringly obvious it was. Having worked in sales for the last five years, I was painfully aware of the concept of value. Drilled into my head by tired instructors in big business seminars, the concept of adding value had become an empty buzzword; drained of all life and merit when it became just another mechanism for pursuing a material goal – usually, a sale.
“Find the customers need and connect it to your product.”
Which often meant:
“Pretend to add value.”
The merits of adding value are fairly straight forward. When you solve people’s problems, people are happy to reward you and want to include you in their life. The principle is underpinned by the belief that if you continually add value to people’s lives then they will look for ways to reward you. This is how any self-help seminar guru makes a living. Don’t feel confident? Well, he’s got a fix for that. And I’ll bet you’ll be happy to pay him if it works.
I imagine, to a cynical mind, this might seem like wishful thinking. But consider your own life, don’t you pay to have comedians make you laugh? Don’t you pay to have movies take you to other worlds? Don’t you pay for an internet subscription so you can watch porn and feel like less alone?
Much of your own life is the readiness to offer something in return for the ability to make you feel better.
Therefore, given the obvious benefits of adding value, it would seem clear that I am, like Rohn, advising you to focus on adding value, so that you’ll never have to worry about anything else.
Well, not exactly.
The problem with advising people to add value is that it is immediately seen as a technique – as something you do in order to improve your relationships with people or get something you want. By merely advising people to do this, you advise them to modify their behavior in order to achieve something involving other people. And this is usually in form of acting in an insincere, inauthentic way in order to get what they want.
In other words, by advising people to add value, you advise them to be needy.
It’s the salesman, the politician and the actor’s problem; it’s all about how the other person perceives you. Do they perceive you as helpful? Do they perceive you as a leader? Do they perceive you as entertaining and charismatic? Your entire ability to add value hinges on someone’s perception of you, therefore, all your efforts go into controlling how they perceive you.
I remember when I was staring out at trying to improve my dating life. Pick up books that I read would often speak about adding value, of being the life of the party that brought the fun. This made sense, on paper, but more often than not it just made me hyper self-conscious and aware of how ‘fun’ I was, and neurotic about how girls were responding to me. Instead of adding value, I had become a value vampire, who fed off how well girls responded to me. Like an actor chasing applause, or a politician seeking votes; I was desperately trying to feed off what I wanted, in this case, validation and sex.*
It turned out, that in my effort to add value, I had turned into an empty, faceless individual.
And in almost every case of ‘trying to add value’ that I’ve seen, this has always been the case. There was always nothing behind it. To offer another alliteration, it is vacuous value.
There is an alternative though, but it begins with letting go of your desire to have people react to you the way you wasn’t them to. And once you’ve done this, it’s simple:
You become a man who adds so much value to his own life that he naturally adds value to other people.
When we develop ourselves, for ourselves, and naturally explore the diversification of our own identity – we learn lessons and skills that in our actions and life choices, naturally connect with people and give them something to learn from, or enjoy.
The best person to learn about dating from is a guy who has taught it to himself. The best way to learn how to write is to read great writing. The best way to build a successful business is to model the way’s in which successful entrepreneurs made it happen for themselves. Hell, this even works in sports – Kobe Bryant is a direct result of the value that Michael Jordan added to his life through Michaels own efforts to better himself. Bryant saw that and said, “I want that too.”
When we take full responsibility for our lives and build a true relationship with ourselves; one that understands who we are emotionally, one that confronts our fears, develops our discipline and builds our skills and talents – we become someone who, just through their existence, offers all of that to someone else. There is no dependence on the other person.
Develop yourself, and the value takes care of itself.
When Rohn said “If you focus on adding more value than anyone else, you’ll never have to worry about anything” I believe he was right. But where he was wrong was that he didn’t specify where that value you should go. Because to anyone who’s socially insecure, in need of money, or lonely and craving validation from sex; they’re always going to look outside themselves for the answer. But they won’t find it.
If you focus on adding more value to your own life, more than anyone else does to theirs, then you will end up becoming the kind of person who they want to socialize with, do business with and have relationships with.
Instead of focusing on building relationships outside ourselves, we concentrate on the one inside, and we make it as good as we possibly can. Because it’s that relationship, and the value within, that serves as the foundation from which we’ll build all others.
*And if you go about it this way, you’ll only be having it with needy women.
*This blog, for example, is a book’s worth of information for anyone looking to improve themselves or their dating life. I regularly receive messages and emails from readers telling me how it has affected them or where they disagree. In some way or another, it engages people and adds value to their lives.
But this blog isn’t the result of me trying to add value or get anything out of them like a sale. In fact, at the time of writing this, I don’t sell anything. Although toying with the idea, I’ve never settled on something I’d want to sell, so have kept writing free content instead. Rather than being motivated by a desire to make money, this blog is a by-product of a shitload of reading, an obsession with self-improvement, issues with women that took years to manage, and a healthy dose of always wanting more. In other words, this blog adds value to people as a result of me adding value to myself.
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