Everyone wants to find ways to be more respected and avoid feeling ordinary and small at work. The unfortunate truth is that circumstances don’t always cooperate on this front; it requires understanding how to lead yourself and being bold about how you value yourself.

Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo just gave an inspiring example in doing just that.

After years of laboring in co-star Patrick Dempsey’s financial shadow, Pompeo just broke into the spotlight in a big, big way by standing strong, believing in her worth and negotiating a $20 million dollar deal ($575,000 per episode).

The deal makes her the highest paid woman in television.

Pompeo will also get a seven-figure signing bonus, equity points in the show (valued at another $7 million) and major income/support for her Calamity Jane production company.

Don’t cry for Disney, by the way.

Grey’s Anatomy is ABC’s number two drama, a hit in 220 territories around the world and a multi-billion dollar franchise.

And still, Pompeo struggled for years asking for enough (especially since Disney would leverage former co-star Patrick Dempsey against her in negotiations). As Pompeo told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Now, maybe it’s my Irish Catholic upbringing, but you never want to [be perceived as] too greedy. Or maybe it’s just that as women, that’s our problem; a guy wouldn’t have any problem asking for $600,000 an episode. And as women, we’re like, “Oh, can I ask for that? Is that OK?”

But then her mentor and friend, Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy, gave her advice that would change her life:

Find out what you’re worth and ask for it, no one is going to give it to you.

Fantastic advice for anyone, female or male, no matter what you do.

So Pompeo followed it, leading to her unprecedented deal. She also decided to be one of the very few actors/actresses that talks about their pay in an attempt to set an example of empowerment and opportunity.

The control Pompeo wielded over her “Hollywood worth” brings up another important point.

How do we tend to value ourselves in general (setting aside the financial element)?

The unfortunate truth is that we often artificially depress our own perceived worth by chasing approval.

When we seek approval we’re seeking external validation which is an empty victory at best and elusive and confidence/soul crushing at worst.

Instead, how you feel about yourself should flow dominantly from your own self-acceptance and self-appreciation–from self-worth. In fact, remember these two numbers, a ratio, that serves as a powerful way to keep things in perspective.

90 and 10.

This is the simple formula for how you should calculate your worth: which is to say it should be based on 90 percent self-worth, 10 percent assigned worth.

Purists might not agree with allotting 10 percent for external validation, but I’m a realist. Becoming completely callous to the occasional signal that you’re valued and appreciated is unrealistic.

That said, we get into trouble when we focus more on winning love, than giving love. So treat that external validation for what it is, 10 percent of the equation.

Net, when it comes to money, find out what you’re worth and ask for it. When it comes to meaning, focus on self-worth versus assigned-worth.

That’s advice that will pay all kinds of dividends.

Originally published at www.inc.com