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As creatives, we love what we do. We would not do it otherwise. For that reason, we love sharing our joy with other people. There are numerous methods we use to aid others in feeling the joy we do. But one of the many ways is aiding others in achieving their dreams. Tell me if you think this scenario is familiar. You encounter someone who starts telling you all about the special project they’re interested in. This project happens to be in an area of your expertise. Therefore, you offer your services. They can’t pay you because they’re just getting started or are just low on funds. Your desire to help them accomplish this project is so profound that you offer your services for free. I can’t even begin to tell you how often I’ve done this. I become so excited to support someone in finding or developing a deeper sense of self or happiness because they are finally in the path they have always wanted to be. What if I don’t get paid? The joy I get out of it was worth it.

If only that feeling lasted.

The issue with this attitude is that by offering your services for free, you are actually doing these people a disservice. When I have coached someone free of charge, every step of the way felt as if I was pulling teeth out of an alligator (I’ve dealt with alligators before and trust me when I say that pulling teeth from them would not be a pleasant experience). Typically, I have pushed them to the point where I’m feeling frustrated, and they’re feeling one of two ways. One, they feel like they have all the time in the world (despite my encouragement to feel otherwise). Or two, they’re frustrated because they were not ready to put all the effort that is usually necessary to fulfill their dreams.

 

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When they are not willing to either save or shell out the money needed for your services, they are not ready to take the next step. They are paying lip service to their dream but are too lazy, unmotivated, or unprepared to take action. Rushing them to start something they are not ready for will result in unpleasantness for both the giver and the receiver.

I accompanied my nine-year-old niece shopping a couple months ago. She saw this hat that she just had to have. According to her, she has wanted a hat like that for years (I was sure it was an exaggeration since she’s only nine). Well, being the experienced aunt that I was, I knew she would wear it for a minute and then get bored with it once I bought it for her. Thus, I told her she had to purchase the hat with her own money. She was immediately willing, which surprised me. She brought the hat and has been superb at regularly intergrading it into her wardrobe. Usually, I buy my niece whatever she wants. She’ll use it once and then it will go where all her things end up; in forgotten land. This experience taught me a valuable lesson;

 

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Wayne Hull, owner of lift-aid, has numerous experiences with this topic. Wayne loves empowering people in any capacity he can. At one point, Wayne owned a martial arts school. He started teaching martial arts as a way to empower people who were being bullied, had been sexual assaulted, or felt unsafe. Because of his passion for his art and the purpose behind it, when he was approached by people who really wanted to take his class to learn martial arts but did not have the funds, he was very welcoming. He said, “I wanted to teach them more than I wanted their money.” Unfortunately, the people he taught for free were not willing to give the time and effort needed to move to the next level.

They had not sacrificed anything for what they had already learned. In fact, he remembered one incident where a student switched schools right before testing for their black belt. Wayne was upset, and the student was puzzled. “He didn’t understand the value because he hadn’t had to sacrifice anything really,” Wayne said, “A month after he left my school, he tested for black belt in another school. His technique was superior to those in that school. The instructor there was overjoyed. He ended up paying three times as much for the test in the other school.” Since then, Wayne has made sure that he is compensated for his services. He makes sure his students pay him what they can even if it’s not the full price for the service. He still teaches a separate free class for those who have experienced an assault.
Now don’t get me wrong. If you’ve been reading my posts you know I am a big supporter of being giving in business and in life. But part of being giving sometimes is to help others understand how much they want to achieve their idea of success.

Your services are valuable. Giving them away for free might tell your customers that you don’t value your services. And if you don’t value it, why should they?

In the comments below, I would love to hear of a time when you gave your services away and it was detrimental and what you did about it. I can’t wait to read them!

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