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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Why you should ‘sell’ yourself and how [Wise Wednesdays]

Of course, there’s nothing you ‘should’ do. You’re in control of your choices.


But here's a question: when you die, how much of yourself do you want to keep?


The word "selling", from the Old English ‘sellan’, originally meant ‘giving’. In this sense, when you ‘sell’ yourself, you give. For example, you give:


•           your attention

•           your knowledge

•           your wisdom

•           etc.


It was only later that the emphasis on giving was shifted to exchanging for money when using the word ‘selling’.


Selling can be challenging due to associations with manipulation and greed in an extractive system. Money is emotionally charged, often tied to childhood experiences. The discomfort in ‘selling’ is rooted in deeply engrained societal norms that require us to 'perform' for what we need.


So how can you ‘sell yourself’, whether as part of your work or business, without compromising your values?


[Read on or watch the video (Note: it’s longer than planned and I keep forgetting to look into the camera but shared is better than perfect!)]


Consider these questions:


What does 'selling' mean to you?

What are you afraid of losing if you 'sell' yourself?

What are you protecting by not 'selling' yourself?

What would it mean if no one wanted to 'buy' what you're 'selling'?

Who would you be if you weren't selling but giving, asking and receiving what you need?


Selling from abundance, not scarcity: integrating the gift economy.


If you peel back the layers of societal norms for exchange, you find a simpler, more relational form for meeting needs: giving, asking, and receiving. The gift economy is a system of giving and receiving, that does not rely on direct exchange (transactions) or money. It’s based on trust, reciprocity, and social connections.


Unlike the scarcity-based patriarchal economy, it’s rooted in abundance. It's about giving, asking, and receiving which is the natural flow of life. The gift economy subverts the manipulation, extraction and accumulation of patriarchal capitalism through generosity, connection and trust.


By integrating the principles of the gift economy into business and work, you can move away from transactions and towards relationships, and turn every exchange into an opportunity to build connection and trust.


Here are 3 practical steps to align with the gift economy:


1)    Decouple 'selling' and money transactions -> learn to give, ask and receive over time.

2)    Avoid scalable products or scaling too fast -> focus on relationships.

3)    Avoid manipulative tactics -> prioritise authenticity and trust.


While the discomfort of ‘selling’ may never fully disappear in a patriarchal capitalist system, integrating gift economy principles can support your leadership impact, career development and business creation. Every act of selling can be an act of giving in the bigger web of interdependence.


Money is an invention, but the cycle of giving, asking and receiving is not.


Have a great week,



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