Friday, April 15, 2011

Providing Value

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving. –Albert Einstein

I’ve been asked by a fellow blogger to write something in response to the question “How do you provide value?” That is an interesting question to write about, because I think we are not the best judges of the value we provide. Most of the time we don’t know what value we have provided unless it is reflected back to us somehow.

At my father’s memorial service, people I had never met came up to me and told me of some way he had touched their lives, through teaching, or mentoring, or lending a hand, or encouraging them in some way. I wondered if he knew that he had such a profound impact on these lives. Perhaps he would have been surprised to hear what people said.

I was reading a friend’s blog recently. She wrote about being called to the phone when she was in graduate school years ago because her mother was dying right then. There was no time to get to her side, so my friend went into a conference room and had one last tender and loving conversation with her mother on the phone. Later that day, someone she didn’t know very well came up to her and said that she had inadvertently overheard the conversation from a nearby room. This person offered words of condolence as best she could. My friend wrote that these words meant so much to her, and gave her comfort at a devastating time when she felt alone and far away from her family.

The writing was so eloquent and deeply moving that I went to my friend and started crying as I expressed my gratitude for her sharing this beautiful story. She replied, “Don’t you remember? The person who came up to me was you.”

Over the years, we have developed a friendship I treasure, but I do not remember this early encounter. I wonder how many other encounters I’ve forgotten that made some lasting impression on someone else? And what kind of impression did I leave? (Some I would not be proud of now, I’m sure.)

Everything we do in our lives, every thought and word and action, has the potential to provide value to someone, to our community, to our environment, to the universal energy that connects us all. Everything matters. If we believe that, then the value we provide will be magnified, in ways we may never even know.


  1. I wholehearted share your belief that even tiny acts of kindness make a difference, and I 'value' your words of wisdom.

  2. Hi Galen,

    I agree with you fully when you say "we are not the best judges of the value we provide. Most of the time we don’t know what value we have provided unless it is reflected back to us somehow."

    I feel that this is simply because value is subjective and differs from person to person although there is some minimal standard. But certain actions are more important to others simply because of their unique nature. Or it could be just what was needed there and then.

    You are really becoming a master story teller! ;) It is always interesting to see what stories you have to share. I think the one you just shared about how you comforted your friend years ago is lovely.

    Often there are instances in our lives when the things that mean a lot to others barely register for us. This is natural because of the different priorities we have in life.

    I feel that what matters is that whenever an opportunity presents itself for us to make a difference in the lives of others in some small way, we should do so. By doing so, it might just have been a great life saver for others.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  3. Excellent post Galen. Very true. We always hope that our words of encouragement or condolence help someone to either achieve or heal or at the very least over come a situation. It's always a good feeling.

  4. As the recent recipient of a number of acts of kindness, I can vouch for their worth. Your post has made me think about really letting these people know how valuable they are to me.
    Let me begin with YOU...your words have healed many wounds, comforted some dark hours, and given me things to reflect upon...your value as a bogging friend goes way beyond the fun of meeting a new person in the virtual world...You have helped me heal. Thank you, Galen.
    katy xxx

  5. Oh dear lady......we are all in this together as your post so aptly points out!

    Throw a pebble into a stream......and the ocean ripples.



  6. Kara--I like the Dalai Lama's description of his religion as kindness. Thanks for your kind words.

    Irving--Thank you so much for the compliment. A master story teller is something I would love to be. I appreciate the encouragement.

    ryoko--It does feel good when we realize that something we've done has helped someone, even in some small way. Thanks for your comment.

    Katy--You are such a sweetie. And a hero. If I have ever said anything that was helpful to you, then it was my humble honor to do so.

    Jo--I love the pebble/ocean saying. So true, isn't it?! Thanks!

  7. This was wonderful to read. I like the way that as decades pass actions we took long ago come to fruition with all kinds of unanticipated benefits. Now I just try to do whatever seems correct in the moment, and I don't pay any further attention to it.

  8. Beautifully expressed Galen... thank you :-)

    We put Emerson's words on my Dad's epitaph

    “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To leave the world a better place. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

    It seemed fitting.

    How sad we don't know our own worth [what value we bring] until it's all too late.

  9. Mikey--Yes, just do the best we can and let it go. Thanks for commenting.

    Jean--How lovely. Thank you for sharing this inspiring quote and also the connection to your dad.

  10. Galen,
    I do so like your way with words and sharing a concept and story.
    I believe that we must always keep kindness in mind, not only to keep our own actions true to our own selves and values but because so many others are in need of kindness - those wholesome good words that just often seem to go missing - especially in competitive or greedy circumstances. It is actually because so many folks have said to me - oh you said just what I needed to hear or I never thought of things in that way or as one young man said: I can not believe you would just give me 5 hours of your time to help me write a paper...I knew that one of my dominate expressions of my self was kindness. thank you for your words today - they were good reading

  11. So well said. You have a way of looking into the heart of a subject and writing about it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  12. Patricia--We just never know, do we, how a simple gesture or a kind word can make such a difference to someone. Thanks for your comment.

    Manzanita--Thank you for the encouraging words.

  13. Galen I'm sharing a great gift....and honoring you with an award! Just go here to collect it!

  14. I'm amazed Galen, you've gone and created a whole post about my question. No-one has done that yet, so thank you.

    You make an interesting point about the occasions where we can provide value. Truth is, we can provide value at any point in our lives, anywhere, any time, to anyone. We don't have to be at work, or with family, or with friends, or even doing our own activities. There's no set requirements for giving value, we provide value continuously, consistently, and eternally.

    Thanks again Galen, appreciate it :-)

  15. Karen--Bless your sweet heart! Thank you for this honor!

    Stuart--I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the answers you get to your interesting question from other bloggers. It was a fun question to consider and write about.

  16. Hi Galen,
    Thankyou for this post. Your last paragraph summed it up beautifully.
    Be good to yourself

  17. David--Thanks for your comment. Let's all be good to ourselves!


Your comment is valuable and valued. Comment moderation is enabled to block spam, so please excuse the brief delay until your comment appears on the blog.