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Discovering Self-Worth

Discovering Self-Worth


I have to fire this client. I have to fire this client. I have to fire this client!

This thought was playing on repeat in my head like a broken record, with the pounding of my heart providing the thumping bass line. I was sitting on the bare, cold floor of the beautiful apartment I had rented in Tours, France, tears stinging my eyes. It was May and I had not seen a check from this client since December. I was literally down to the bottom of my bank account—and only halfway through my trip. The client had told me they had processed the latest payment before I left and it would be in the bank in 48 hours…this was days before I left, after a solid month of calling and emailing almost every day. And now, still no check. Worse, this client was my last one! I had others on the horizon, but all my others had finished up their work with me—or I’d fired them, like I desperately wanted to fire this one.

Every time this client (or any others) dragged their feet on payment, I knew I had to have done something wrong. But what? I must not have delivered what they had asked or wanted. I searched my emails and work files frantically to find what I missed, but as far as I could find, I had done exactly what I’d been contracted to do. Okay, I must not have worked the right amount of hours…the research time I did and the event I attended for them, I knew I shouldn’t have billed them for those! But no, my contract said they hired me to do those things, so it couldn’t possibly be that.

Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to build a business. I didn’t finish college. My family doesn’t have a business background. I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe I just don’t deserve to succeed.

That was it. With that thought, my tears became uncontrollable sobs and I started feeling nauseous. The next few hours were a blur of crying, puking, and hating myself. How had I gotten to this point? Why couldn’t I just ask for what I want and need, and feel like I deserve it? Why couldn’t I find clients who valued me as much as I valued them?

As my crying eventually stopped, I knew I had to close this chapter somehow. Alright, Universe, I thought. I hear you, and I surrender. Show me what I need to see.

The words came to me: self-worth.


Self-worth, I realized, is the part of yourself you can’t hide from. You can fake self-confidence all day, but it’s not part of your core the way self-worth is. Self-worth is like a tattoo on your forehead that turns neon-bright at the moment you want to hide it (or hide from it) the most.

The real reason I couldn’t find the right clients, or collect payment from them when I had them, the reason I struggled to even sit down and do the invoicing at all, was that I didn’t feel like I was worthy to do those things.

But I was worthy. And I knew I was! I knew those thoughts about not deserving success were wrong, wrong, wrong! I had survived bigger, scarier, and more heart-wrenching things than starting a business. This morning in Tours would not be the first time I would be starting from nothing.

So if I was truly worthy of success, what did that mean? As I considered this through my fading tears, I found one step I could take (besides firing this client) to run my business from a standpoint of worth: I could stop sending invoices late. Then another: I could put a clause in my contracts about late payments, which I’d been holding off from doing for fear it would turn the clients off, not realizing that it would actually be a sign of mutual respect. Then other ideas came. In time, I was able to rebuild my self-worth and my business.

I love people, I love their stories. Understanding where someone has been and where they are going fascinates me and opens me to new things. I want to help them on their journey when possible—bring them closer to where they are going, or help heal a piece of where they have been that may be preventing them from moving forward.

My greatest lesson in doing those things has been understanding and building self-worth. It is the foundation of you, so by default it is also the foundation of your company, your journey, and your life.

Interested in reading 99 other stories just like this? Grab The Better Business book here.

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