Is Value Attribution Holding You Back?


Violin virtuoso Joshua Bell performed an experiment for the Washington Post a few years back. Joshua Bell, masterfully plays a Stratovarius built in 1713. The Stratovarius is known as the very best, top of the line violin ever constructed. And Joshua Bell plays it in front of hundreds of people at some of the biggest music venues worldwide. He is perhaps the most famous and sought-after violinist alive today.

The Washington post’s experiment had Bell wearing jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a baseball cap enter one of the Washington D.C.’s subway stations, open his case and begin playing his Stratovarius. His 43-minute performance was recorded by the Post. Of the 1,097 people filing by in that time, only seven stopped to listen to some of his performance. Only one recognized Bell. As street performers do, Bell turned his open violin case toward passers-by so they could contribute if they so desired. Bell received $32.17. Just weeks before, Bell had played the exact same repertoire in front of hundreds of well-dressed patrons earning thousands of dollars. The difference – value attribution.

Value Attribution is the importance or significance we tend to assign to a person, object, or service without objective observance. In the subway, over one thousand people passed by what they deemed just another street performer. Perhaps a want-to-be musician hoping people will drop enough change and bills to feed him another day. .006 percent of the people passed by the most sought after and highly paid violinist in the world without notice. A free concert was theirs to be had. But their value assessment of him was just short of “bum.”

We all have a tendency to place value attribution on people before getting to know each person. We subconsciously place a value on people based on how they dress, who they are with, whether or not he/she is pleasant to look at, and other outward factors. Often our value assessments are wrong in that they do not account for the person’s true worth in skill, talent, and attributes he/she can bring to our organization.

Unfortunately, we seldom give that person an opportunity to prove himself or to fully engage in all he can to assist our organization in fulfilling its purpose. Our value attribution holds him/her back from using his best abilities, and we do not even recognize we are doing such. Yet, because our value assessment says this person could never be a leader, we never assign any leadership tasks to him/her.

A person who is held at a lower level than he can achieve will seldom strive to fulfill his greatest potential for your organization. Thus, your organization will not be able to reach its full potential. Multiply this by the number of people in your organization that you have wrongfully placed a value attribution and you multiply the level of lost potential.

Your value attribution of each individual connected to your organization will determine the extent of the excellence of your organization. What will you do this week to alter the way you attribute value to others? After all, you may be overlooking the world’s best right in front of you.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at

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