A Lesson Learned From Picasso. And It Wasn’t About Art

photo credit: Alex Jones

photo credit: Alex Jones

Over the years I’ve struggled both professionally and personally with the idea of worth. Professionally, I’ve sometimes wondered if I should consider discounting my price or settle for less in order to get more business. In my personal life I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of getting stuck in the thinking that I’m “just” a mom and by doing this I’ve unwittingly de-valued my role and contribution to my family and myself.

Neither is good. I know.

Though in defense I must say that professionally, I’ve found pricing one’s services is often much more difficult than just charging, “what the market will bear”.  After all I’ve wondered, (and perhaps some of you have too) what is my talent and knowledge worth? Why are some in my profession able to charge so much? – Others, so little? Will I seem more attractive to potential customers if I’m perceived to be more affordable? It’s been a quandary.

In my personal life, I’ve been guilty of falling into the trap of thinking that because my caregiver role occurs outside of the confines of an office, and because it doesn’t come with a great salary, or title and regular pay raises and promotions (to say nothing for the lack of vacation and benefits), that it doesn’t have value in most people’s eyes. And, well if others don’t value it than I suppose I won’t either. Which is crazy! I realized I needed to fix this and to do that I needed to change my mindset and challenge my personal view of “worth”.  Along the way I found this little story about the painter, Pablo Picasso was a great help. It goes something like this.

A woman was walking along a Paris street when she noticed Picasso sketching at a café. The woman approached him and asked if he would draw a sketch of her for which she would happily compensate him. Picasso agreed. After a few minutes the sketch was complete and Picasso handed the woman the drawing. She asked what she owed him and he replied, “5,000 francs.” “But it only took you a few minutes” said the woman. “No” Picasso responded, “It took all my life.”

For me, the lessons here are:

Professionally, don’t just charge for the time it takes to solve a problem. Charge for the expertise it takes to “know how.”

Personally, be mindful to take pride in the hard work, the incredible experience and wisdom you’ve accumulated on this job as a parent or caregiver. It’s actually the hardest and most important an of us will ever have. And that has tremendous value.

This much I know.


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