Never Sell Yourself Short

Two weeks ago an old friend and psychotherapist, Marj Holiman, passed away after a painful dance with cancer. She was a steady mentor for many eager psychology interns and radiated a calmness of insight that made its way through six degrees of separation.

About 30 years ago we were both part of a small psychotherapy practice together. After the first year, our group of professionals met to discuss future plans and commitments to one another, given various financial challenges. One of the practice members listed a number of “needs” that he had, including certain financial exceptions so that he could live his relatively laid-back lifestyle, while the rest of us felt we were working hard to develop a successful business. When he finished his presentation, Marj said very simply “I understand, but your needs are not more important than mine.” That same day, he gave his notice and no one asked him to reconsider.

Marj spoke clearly about the necessity of being clear about one’s needs and not selling yourself short. In many situations, we are tempted with the illusion that by doing so we lessen the loss or the damage, financially or otherwise. The willingness to honestly accept or reject an offer is a key to providing leadership and equality. Besides, when you sell yourself short, other people will sell you short, too.