I’ve been thinking about value a lot lately. In marketing, and especially in marketing services (though not just services), value is an important concept. What has value to one person doesn’t have value to another. Understanding what constitutes value is important in being able to appeal to a particular client, and to understand what aspects of our services we need to promote. I love teaching value to my marketing training clients, because so many have never thought of themselves or their skills that way. Sometimes it can be a shock for them to learn that who they are doesn’t have intrinsic value to the client. Rather, it is what they do for that client that has value. Though of course, who they are contributes to that.
I think that this is the same in real life, and especially life after infertility. Our perspectives determine what we define as success, and what we define as value. I look at some people I know. They’re worked hard all their lives, risen in the corporate world, but have they actually done anything of value?
Single-minded pursuit of success can be an incredibly selfish thing, and can leave a lot of bodies in a person’s wake. Though not always. Still, maybe their corporation has an important product, or maybe by climbing the corporate ladder they’ve been able to mentor others, or provide their families and others with financial support. The value to me isn’t that they’ve become <insert title here>, but what they’ve done as they’ve reached those heady heights. I admire Bill Gates, not for establishing a hugely successful company and becoming a billionaire, but for what he is doing now, his approach towards eliminating malaria and other diseases, his humanity in action.
I watched Survivor the other night. (Confession: I drafted this months ago!) I thought about Jeff whatshisname. He’s spent 20 years of his life overseeing egotistical people fighting for money, and selling that to the world. Some would say he’s successful. He's certainly rich. But would I want to spend my life that way? Has he provided value to the world doing that? You could argue he has provided entertainment for millions. But if he hadn’t, someone else would have filled the void. Maybe, by being a calm and sensible voice, he has role modelled appropriate behaviour. Maybe he’s used his wealth to make the world a better place. Or maybe not. My point is that his prominence and wealth don't on their own make him valuable. I guess it comes down to how we define success.
In the same way, we can look at other people who are parents. When we are so often feeling less than, simply because we haven’t brought another being into the world, or raised another being when their parents couldn’t, I find it can be useful to think about life this way. I’m not trying to diminish the role of parents, simply put it in perspective. Now, some people will assume that if you’re a parent, by creating another person you are contributing enormously to the world. Others would say that it’s not simply a numbers game, positive or negative. But is being a parent inherently valuable? It depends on a huge range of factors.
Whilst I try not to judge, I think to an extent it is inevitable. We respect some people, and not others. That's human nature, even if we're trying not to be judgemental. In doing this, though, I wish our societies assigned value based on how much better a person will leave the world. On who they’ve helped. On whether they have been selfish, or not. On whether they’ve been kind. On their values. Not just on whether they have been a parent. Or not.