Assigning Value to Variables

Photo by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash

We aren’t going anywhere, but you might still enjoy the ride.

This will likely become a speech I’ll deliver at Toastmasters.

At first blush, by that title and image, you might think I’m a computer programmer. That would be far from the truth. I’ve done some programming, but I’ve never become a programmer. I would have been eaten alive by my OCD.

I’m a writer, speaker, communications worker of sorts. Mostly, I help people with computers and their websites and social media. This has been my answer to “what do you do” for decades now. Soon this will change.

Let me just hit you with the punchline right up front here. The variables, in this case, are people you meet and people you know. The value of those people is something that comes from you.

Assigning a value to people might make you uncomfortable at first as it may seem unfair to some. As in, if you challenged me to name the top five people in my circle, how great is the potential for hurt feelings among those not listed. And yet, I’m clear on the idea of who my closest friends are and why they hold that position. So, I’ve assigned some level of value to those variables (the people I know.)

Then there are the people you meet. In my case, I meet new people all the time. It comes with the work I do and if I don’t meet new people often, I may soon be out of business. This is a whole other level of valuation here, as I definitely have some cherished clients. Some of them have been told that directly and some of them probably know that I enjoy working for them by my behavior and a willingness to engage in more meaningful conversations.

I’m starting to sense the danger in writing this, but I’ll push through that fear, as the show must go on! There may come a time when I no longer provide the services I do and then it will become more obvious who’s who among my client base. One of my many dreams is to one day be free of income taxation. Oh, they’ll still get me for capital gains, but working for a living will soon end.

Sorry, I’m off course for a moment. I’m back now.

It seems prudent to leave family out of this analysis. As they say, you can choose your friends.

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Pressing on, now I wonder if you can do this. If you were put in some kind of “Sophie’s Choice” situation and someone said you can only associate with these few people for the rest of your life, which of your friends would be on that list? If you had to choose between friends or family, would it alter your decision? I love my family, but I really like my friends.

Beyond my list of friends and clients are the new people I meet daily who are in neither category. One premise that works for me is to venture into the world each day knowing I might meet someone on this day who changes everything for me. There have been complete strangers who have said things that really did make a difference. Example: this guy in line with me at Starbucks remarks on my putting honey in my coffee and suggests alkaline water as a means of acid reduction. Soon I find alkaline water is readily available in stores and since I started drinking that, my acid reflux disease is nearly gone! One little conversation led to a major change in my health.

Likewise, my new living arrangement introduced me to a guy who challenges me daily. One of his challenges led me to start down a whole new path toward potential financial independence. That’s a whole other story, one I hope to soon write.

People come and go, too. One of my friends moved to Ohio. While he was still in California, we palled around a bit. This is the guy who came to my door when food poisoning nearly killed me. He dutifully drove me to urgent care and waited to take me back home when I came out. That’s a good friend! Today, I’m on day three of a similar sickness, so I called him to thank him again for his kindness. What value shall I assign to him?

You may have guessed by now that I’m not going to suggest some numerical form for this process (if you have one, please share). It is simply something I’ve been pondering for some time and I find it interesting how some of my good friends were or still are great clients. While the blurring of that line may make for some challenges later, I’ve learned to accept it. In the greater scheme of things, I would rather lose a client than a friend. And, I’d rather lose a friend than a family member. So, this is a bit complicated.

Perhaps it is the most recent case that spurred this ponderance. That of a long-standing favorite client who has now become a closer friend and something of a business venture collaborator. He believes in me and encourages me to execute on my plan. This, my friends, is extremely valuable to me on many levels. And, it illustrates the variable nature of relationships.

So, there you have it. Those last two sentences brought it home for me. Valuable and variable, isn’t that what makes life and relationships so grand?



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Brian Rouley

Brian Rouley

Writer, semi-retired computer guy.