Self-Worth Has Nothing To Do With Your Clients

About allowing your client’s results to define your self worth...


In my photojournalism days, I had a big problem with this, as did my colleagues. I see this with a lot of coaches, and professionals across the board.

Even though I was regularly contracted for fancy publications, I would still take on cheap assignments or free work. I’d do favors and spen


d hours agonizing over insignificant changes.

I was overly concerned about being likeable, agreeable, and had a hard time saying 'no'. There was a constant fear of getting dumped and replaced.

Pleasing my clients was a desperate priority, not necessarily for them (although of course I wanted to produce good work) but because I tightly defined my self-worth through their happiness and success.



It may have been unconscious, but I believed that it was my responsibility to make clients happy and successful and that my value came from their results.

This is folly! Some of these beliefs are rooted in childhood relationship dynamics, but you don't need years of psychoanalysis to make a change. (Sometimes you might, if there's Trauma). You don't need to revisit your entire past ad nauseum to rewire your brain for more effective boundaries.

The reality is, people will respect you more when you are 1) firm with your boundaries, 2) charge what you are worth and 3) shut down unrealistic expectations.


To be firm with boundaries y


ou first need to get clear on what they are. And to be clear on what they are you need to know what you care to set boundaries around in the first place, a.k.a your values.


The rabbit hole gets deep quickly.


Try this exercise to get started: make a list of your values. What do you care about most? Here's a sample list from Dr. Brene Brown.

I still need to remind myself of this all the time... other people's feelings are not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to respect yourself


and do great work because you believe in your value as a professional, not because you question your value as a person.

I’ve worked with clients at varying career stages (beginners and veterans), and it’s interesting how this can come up at any level. It doesn’t go away with experience unless it’s addressed head on.



This shift looks like:

  • You feel confident to speak up at work.

  • You sign clients that don’t object to your prices because they see your value.

  • The clients that you work with are highly motivated and excited to work with you.

  • Your boss and peers recognize your input.

  • You naturally create better res


ults without putting in extra hours.

Obviously, this isn't something that can change just because you read a blog, even if it was the greatest blog article of all time.



It's a process. A process that I can guide you through systematically.

If you'd like to discuss how it applies in your specific situation, pick a time on my calendar here.


- Danny