Finding Our Price
The old story about two people in a negotiation: “Now that we know what you are, it’s just a matter of negotiating your price.”
I think this is one reason it’s hard to own what we are in life. “What are we going to do in life?” is a self-definition in a way. “I’m going to be a lawyer.” “I am a lawyer. Or a doctor. Or an locomotive chief.” Not only do these terms reduce the value of our entire lives to a single phrase, but they exclude all the other potential answers. “If I am an Indian Chief, I guess I cannot be a ballerina, right?” Perhaps the Resistance comes from giving up all the other things I might have been.
But I think it’s more than that. I think Resistance comes from accepting that if I am a whore, then I might be a two dollar whore rather than a 200 dollar whore. Once I accept I am a whore, now I must negotiate my own value. And if I don’t know that I indeed am worth two hundred dollars, well then I might indeed be only a two dollar whore. Or Indian Chief. Or lawyer. Or ballerina. Or software programmer.
The Long Journey
The journey from two dollar whore to two hundred dollar whore will not be easy. Just watch the movie Pretty Woman! I’m joking on that last part, but I’m not joking about the journey. Even if the journey is not long in terms of timespan, it’s long in terms of sacrifice and risk. You have to become vulnerable and be willing to risk everything on this journey. So the journey will feel long.
The only way a two hundred dollar whore gets to be one is by adding value. She provides a service that is worth two hundred dollars to someone. Part of the transformation from two dollars to two hundred dollars is self-marketing. It’s believing that she’s good. She has to believe it before she can be it. Because she knows that once she changes her price, she will encounter Resistance.
The journey is not about hustling for the appearance of value. It’s about uncovering and cultivating genuine value. There are no short cuts for this, only distractions.
Polite versus Grotesque
Talking about prostitution in this way might seem grotesque. Yet I believe polite perspectives can be self-deceiving. Sometimes the veneer of politeness is a mutual agreement to protect one another’s secrets and unconscious gimmicks. As human beings, each of us has stuff in our personality that embarrasses us and that can trigger shame. Shame hurts. Nobody likes it (although sociopaths appear to be the only ones who are free from it). So politeness can be an unconscious collusion that keeps us from triggering each other into shame. “I’ll avoid your triggers if you avoid mine.” But at the same time, we avoid a lot of elephants in the room. I think people today call it being politically correct, or PC.
This blogpost has asserted that the greater fear is not that we might be whores, but that we might be two dollar whores. My greater fear is not that I might be a programmer, but that I might be a two dollar programmer. That’s scarier. And yet, as a new programmer, perhaps I am only worth $50-60K per year. I am really in the same boat as the whore.
Whether I become a $200K software programmer is entirely up to me.
Becoming Vulnerable, Getting Real
As long as we have not Turned Pro, we live in a cloud of ambiguity. “I might have been more!” But once we turn pro, we’re not ambiguous anymore. If we don’t become worth more, we have to take responsibility for our choices.
Yes, there are always extenuating circumstances. But in the end everyone has extenuating circumstances. If we insist on blaming others for our lot in life, then we never get control. If we own our choices, we at least get some control.
Maybe we grow up in poverty and never get to go to a good school. But only we decide if we’ll have a love affair with reading great books. Even if there are only three books on our shelf, we can choose which three they are and how many times we read them.
We always have some choices. Even if the choice is how we choose to think about our choices.
I call this being vulnerable and getting real. I call it owning our story (or history).
For me, I have to decide every day how conscious I will be about my choice. Each day Resistance is there to tempt me with a cloud of ambiguity. Each day, it’s up to me to stay crystal clear about who I am and what my gifts are, to win my personal battle against Resistance.