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A father on his deathbed gave a watch to his son. "Here is a watch your grandfather gave me," he said. "It is almost 200 years old. Go to the jewelry store and see how much they offer you."

The son went to the jewelry store, came back to his father, and said: "They offered $100 because it is so old." The father said, "Well, try the pawnshop."

The son came back later and said, "The pawnshop offered only $20 because it has a scratch."

The father then asked his son to go to the museum and show them the watch.

The son silently questioned his father's judgment, but still, willing to act on his last wishes, he went to the museum. When he came back, he said to his father: "The curator offered me $375,000 to include this very rare piece in their precious antique collection."

The father responded: "I wanted to show you that the right place will value you in the right way. Don't find yourself in the wrong place and get angry because you are not valued. Never stay in a place where someone doesn't see your value, or you don't feel appreciated."

I share this advice with my own children and grandchildren, people whom I mentor and anyone who is wondering what to do next with their lives. As this season's crop of graduates ventures forth into adulthood, it's something to keep in mind.

I feel so strongly about it that I wrote a book, "You Haven't Hit Your Peak Yet," filled with encouraging examples of what can be possible when you collect your confidence and take inventory of your skills and abilities.

We can all use a boost in our self-confidence or self-worth occasionally. Lately, I'm sensing this even more with the state of our country and the economy. Even the great ones need a pat on the back at some point.

We might feel that we are worthless, but no matter what has happened or what will happen, we will never lose our value. Don't ever forget it.

It is reasonable to expect that most adults will do their best to do the right thing. And that has taken on a new importance in the world we live in, where our words and deeds are often subject to cameras and shared online for the world to see.

But having an established value system goes beyond that — it takes the guesswork out. Because you have already thought about how you want to live and be perceived, your responses and reactions can often be automatic.

Newly minted graduates, the ink barely dry on their diplomas, are starting careers and hoping their educations have prepared them for the challenges ahead. Will they know their value — and their values — as they move into the work world and face questions that they have never had to answer?

Are job hunters of all ages, flaunting years of experience and the battle scars to prove it, prepared to defend their values in a new environment?

And on the other end of the spectrum, will those who are preparing for retirement after years of both stunning achievements and utter disappointment realize the value they brought to their workplaces and the people they worked with?

Your value cannot be calculated only in dollars or job titles or awards. Your value, and your values, matter to those around you.

Mackay's Moral: Stay true to your values and your value will shine through.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail