When I was a school teacher, I voraciously studied what really made teenagers tick.

This was more than the average teacher because I was working with at-risk kids.

As you can guess, some students were wildly successful, but most felt like total failures even though they weren’t.

The kids that failed in the system–or did the system fail them?–really took a psychological hit.

Deep down, I think the kids wanted to give up altogether because of some temporary situation and they felt worthless.

Here’s what I always try to impress upon them:

You Are Valuable

When you feel worthless, you’re basically saying you have no value. That makes it a lot easier to let negative thoughts poison your brain. But when you’re a kid, your value is often intangible. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this process carry on well into adulthood.

The truth is, you’re always valuable to someone. You’re someone’s friend: that’s valuable. You’re a priceless diamond to your parents and loved ones. What’s the value of special times spent together talking, traveling, cooking, and laughing?

When you think back on these things years later, no money will suffice for these memories.

You Create Intrinsic And Extrinsic Value

What I wish students, employees, and other people in life realized is that they are always worth something to somebody. We all have value that is intrinsic and extrinsic.

In our current educational system, it’s very unfortunate that we focus too much on extrinsic value.

We focus on pleasing other people with what they want to see, but give little attention to pleasing ourselves and exploring activities that ignite our true self.

We must satisfy both realms.

Value, Careers, And Society

We’re all searching for value and creating value. It’s like a strange dance we play to get by in life. Sometimes we struggle to find the best value we can create for others. We try out different careers and skills until something sticks.

So what is career bliss? It’s the moment you discover the unique value only you can create, and it completely aligns with what people really want. 1 With that, you can buy almost anything you want, but usually you just want to create more amazing value for others.

It’s a great place to be in when you don’t need to worry about money and you just want to build a great legacy doing your life work: everyone wins.

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  1. (Okay, there’s a little more than two pieces to this puzzle. Check out the Work Sweet Spot and Ikigai career Venn diagrams if you really want to go deep on this.)


Hi, I'm Peyton. I help people and businesses dramatically improve through digital marketing and story. I'm based in Portland, Oregon — a magical and mysterious city enveloped by a Douglas Fir rainforest.
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