Walking around a local antique market we saw an entire table of slide rules, rulers, and ‘vintage’ measuring devices. We had fun looking at them, taking off thier covers and trying to remember how to use them. The rulers were easy, the slide rule had us stumped. My husband and I learned to use them when we were young, yet neither of us could remember. We found ourselves looking at measurements we could no longer understand or relate to. 

It made me think about how we measure the value of a man or woman. Do we think they are successful by the money they have made, the things they have bought and sold? Is it wealth or strength or size? Is it by the number of children they have brought into the world or the service provided to the community? What is the unit of measure for a man or woman? 

In different cultures a boy becomes a man at a certain age. Once he hits that age he experiences a ceremony celebrating his transition to manhood. Some cultures do that for girls as well. Their age determined their adulthood.  In our culture you are able to vote at a certain age, which is a right of adulthood. At that same age you are able to buy an alcoholic beverage, own a gun, or enter into a binding contract. Being able to do these things, does that make you a man or a woman? Does that mean you are a person of value?

So we measure the value of a man or woman by age? Or do we start there then dig deeper into their actions and attitudes? Being a man or woman is not about age or a right of passage. It is about your character, your service, the actions that pour out of your heart and envelope the world around you. I know people who are of the right age and yet bring nothing to their world. They are cynics, critics, jaded, naysayers…and they tend to be cruel, lifeless, negative and generally difficult to be around. And if you stay too long they will suck the joy and life right out of your day. These may be men and women, yet a true disappointment to be around. They might hide their ‘sickness’ in humor or clever quips, and yet you can’t help but see the lifeless soul within. They don’t want to change, they want you to join their misery. They have been hurt, disappointed, passed over or neglected which in their mind gives them the reason to be negative. Being the ‘devil’s advocate’ is their right or skill, and they exercise it with pride. But does that really bring value to those around them? 

I don’t know about you, but I want to know that I have made a difference in this world. I want to know that the world is somehow better than I found it. I want to know that when I breathe my last breath of life that the thoughts, actions, attitudes, and service I brought made life better for those around me. I want to know that someone somewhere had a better path before them because of something I produced…a thought, a gift, a lesson, a kind word, a note, a process or a program I designed. I want people to be glad I entered the room, not happy that I am leaving. 

Some people are still measuring value with a slide rule…they have not updated their skills or embraced the opportunities for growth and change that life provides. They are stuck in an old, updated mindset and are happy to stay there. Others have moved forward and are advancing their value by leaps and bounds every single day. These men and women of value go beyond standard measures and challenge us all to make the world better, and they do this simply by their actions and attitudes. Their words, actions, thoughts and service stretch us into better versions of ourselves…but only if we are willing to change and grow. 

So where do you bring value? And how do you know? How do you measure value? By age or by actions, or attitude? Do you bring value when you enter or more value when you leave?