The Concept of the Nickel and the Dollar



As we serve others on a daily basis, there is an essence of a virtual currency, and there is a feeling of reciprocity associated with this virtual currency. Everything we do has an energy around it. Likewise, each person has developed, or was blessed with, certain gifts and traits. Because the things that we have been blessed with are so easy in our lives, we take them for granted. By the same token, things that are easy for others may seem difficult for us. This is where the concept of the nickel and dollar came from. This concept mainly applies in the area of service, where no actual currency is exchanged.

My skills are in marketing, business management, training and communications. They come easy to me. I provide lots of value in these areas. On the other hand, I am terrible at typical handyman stuff, like working on cars, fixing up houses, etc. For me to provide someone with business consulting is an easy thing. For me, it’s a nickel. For others without that skillset, it may be perceived as a dollar. Here is where the incongruency lies. If I feel like I’m giving you a nickel, and you feel like I’m giving you a dollar, there is an imbalance in the scales. You feel like you own me a dollar, when I feel like you would only owe me a nickel, if anything at all.

By the same token, if I give you something that I feel is valuable, like a dollar, and you receive it like a nickel, I’m going to feel unappreciated, like you didn’t see the real value in what I was giving. In the bible, this is the analogy of casting your pearls before swine.

As we look at the power of choice and meaning, we need to consider not only our point of view, but the other person’s point of view as well, so we can balance out the scales. That is not to say that if we are giving something that we value as a nickel and they value as a dollar that we should take a dollar’s value from them. Instead, we should help them understand what is equitable for both sides in this barter of karma. Also, when somebody offers something to us, we should be empathetic to their point of view and do our best to understand the value with which it was given.

This is also valuable in relationships, when depositing into your partner’s emotional bank account, and in the way we show love. There may be things that your spouse values as a dollar, but you value as a nickel. If you can figure those out, then it becomes easy to deposit into her emotional bank account in a way that is easy for you, and valuable for her/him. Sharing what is important to you, and what is not important is valuable in a relationship. For example, when I first got married, my wife thought that cooking dinner every night was a great way to express her love for me. To her, it was a dollar. For me, it was a nickel, because I had been a bachelor for a while and lived on minimal food, and many times, only ate once a day. When I let her know that, a huge pressure was lifted from her, because she realized that she didn’t need to cook for me all the time to show me love.

As we look at our interactions and relationships, let’s remember to look at how valuable our actions are, both in our own eyes, and in the eyes of the receiver. Let’s also be gracious when receiving, to understand how valuable a gift is for the giver of the gift. When in doubt, always consider it as a dollar. It’s always better to be overly-gracious, than for someone to feel unappreciated.