I was at a FedEx Office in Dallas. I'd been in the area for the weekend, scouting product in North Texas for future Batch shipments and expansion. As is my custom, I go to FedEx Office to box and ship home all the samples before getting on my plane.
As I was waiting to check out, a little girl, maybe eight- or nine-years-old, approached.
"Do you want to buy my book?" she asked me, displaying her handmade and stapled work with a drawing on the cover.
"No," I kindly replied. "But it looks awesome."
"Ok." She walked away toward another customer standing in line and repeated her question. "Do you want to buy my book?"
Another polite denial. The girl lowered her book and turned around and began walking back to her mom who was making copies in the self-service section. As she did, I heard her lament to herself, "I'll get to work on another one, I guess. I hope the next one will be better."
It begins young, it seems - the tendency to equate the value of something based on another's (a stranger's) willingness to pay for it. And sure - in the world of pure and unbridled capitalism, this is how it works. Your house can list for a lot on Zillow, but until someone is willing to write you a check, it technically isn't worth that estimate.
But we can't judge all of our work based upon its popularity or sales price. Trust me - I've written three books, all of which I'm proud of, but none of which have much value when it comes to retail sales. Just because something isn't in demand doesn't mean it's not extremely valuable.
Do your work and do it with all of your heart. Therein you will find its worth.
Because the full value of something isn't just what someone else with pay; it's also what it costs. And your work may well cost you your entire heart or life. There's no greater value than that.