There are three questions to consider the answers to before you begin your next project, start your next job, voice your next complaint, or become frustrated in your next conflict.

What is the price?

This question is about trade-offs in a world of scarce resources, such as time, energy, effort, money, and so on. The price of something allows narrow, transactional negotiation to happen with seeming immediacy. The problem is, if you are in a race to the bottom with yourself on price, you’ll always be losing because the least expensive price is free.

What is it worth?

This question is about values and benefits in a world of abundant resources, such as time, energy, effort, and even money. Worth is personal, subjective, and priceless. Think about how much a glass of water is worth to a thirsty man in the desert who owns a Lamborghini. The problem is, if you have a mindset focused solely on the worth of an item, you may miss the cost of it.

What does it cost?

This question is about the work that a person puts into the development, maintenance, and growth of a product, process, or service. The work has a cost, from emotional labor to technical competency. The work is the cost. The problem is, we both undervalue and overvalue work for a variety of reasons that stem back to the root of worth and cost.

Before you launch your next project, start your next job, voice your next complaint, or become frustrated in your next conflict, please consider the answers to the questions above carefully, so that you know exactly where to put your focus.