How To Tell The Difference Between Worth And Value.


A colleague of mine was returning from a trip to Zimbabwe, he walked into our business meeting and asked the group a simple question:

“How would you like to become instant billionaires?”

He had our attention, our eyes were fixed on him and we waited for the inspired plan to make this happen. He calmly pulled out his wallet and handed each of us a crisp 50-Billion-dollar bill from the Bank of Zimbabwe! Then he said that if the four of us agreed to pull our resources together, we would be able to get a loaf of bread and possibly a kilogram of sugar……

There is a story that in 75 BC a young Roman nobleman named Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held for ransom. When they demanded 20 talents of silver in ransom (about $600,000 today), Caesar laughed and said they obviously had no idea who he was. He insisted they raise the ransom to 50 talents! Why?

Because he believed he was worth far more than 20 talents

I was reminded of the contrast of the two stories above as I watched my kids open their Christmas presents last year. As happens around many a Christmas tree, many expensive and not so expensive items are wrapped and exchanged. A lot of these are given to people who do not need them, will never use or value them enough as evidenced by the long return/exchange lines starting tomorrow or the totally blessed re-gifting.

The other side of the coin are many items that a cheap, or seemingly worthless packaged/wrapped or not and given to receptive, appreciative hearts that will value them for ever. 

And then there are the gifts that are priceless: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control which are free and easy to give all year round.

Over the years, I have learned to listen for the verbal and non-verbal reactions as the gifts are opened. I am always encouraged when I get it right and the list of:” mom can we exchange this” has gone down steadily.

The casual dictionary definitions of worth and value use each word in the other word’s definition.

Worth: having monetary or material value

Value: the material or monetary worth of something

To get the real difference between the two, one has to get to the third or forth definitions:

 Value the verb: consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of.

And worth the noun: the value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.

This tells me that in 2019, we need to give more of the priceless gifts to family, friends, business associates, employees, bosses because the more we give these, the more we will get them back in return. As for worth and value, the same rule applies, the people we value, the gifts we value will increase their worth to us!

But most importantly, we need to know who we are, know our worth, value ourselves and others.


Susan Namulindwa

Susan is an entrepreneur and management consultant in Environmental science, Industrial manufacturing, Green technologies, organic farming, and sustainable development. Susan has worked with several African Governments, Regional Governments, local Governors, and community leaders across Africa on Environmental, Social License, and Corporate Governance issues. Susan works with and advises several Governments on developing resources and agriculture in a sustainable manner. Susan is actively involved in community development issues and is passionate about women and children wellbeing, empowerment, and rights. Susan holds a BSC. in industrial chemistry and postgraduate certificates in Environmental Science and Renewable energy.

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