There’s this interesting thing about we humans. Although we love gifts and presents, in many instances we need to know that we’ve really earned something to own it. There are places where, when people give us things, instead of feeling appreciative, we feel beholding.
This topic comes up a lot when I’m working with new coaches. Somehow, they often feel guilty for charging for their services. In the least, many feel that they should have some people that they help without charging. The problem there is not about the coach. Most of us want to do things to give back to the community. No, the problem is with the client. If the client doesn’t “earn” it, they won’t be able to “own” it.
I know that when I say that, I’m bucking up against the cultural views that say we should help others, we should give of ourselves and our knowledge for the benefit of others, etc. But that perspective is all about us. What about them?
What’s the difference for you if you say: “I worked to achieve this” versus “I was given this”? Which statement has you feel proud and accomplished?
Oddly, this topic is and isn’t about money. One way to “earn” something, of course, is to pay for it. This method has steps to it: we do work, we earn money, we choose to spend it on something, thus we have earned that thing. A more direct path is to do something specific to earn the thing.
If you, as a provider of a service, don’t give your client the opportunity to pay for your service in some manner, then you are sending some covert messages to them. You are saying something about your belief that they can’t “earn” this. That they need help. That they somehow aren’t quite competent. You are also being a bit arrogant and patronizing. I’m sure that isn’t your intention. But it certainly is a possible result of giving too much away. And finally, you might also be saying that what you have to offer isn’t worth much.
So, what to do. Let’s suppose you have someone that wants your help, and you want to help them, but they don’t have enough money to pay your fee. What then? When that happens, it’s time to craft with the client how they can “earn” the value of the work. And an interesting thing about earning that value is that they don’t have to do something directly for you to earn it. Frankly, I think it’s better if what they do isn’t for you. If it’s for you, it muddies the water. You could, for example, request that for every chunk of your service they use, they then give a chunk of time to a charity.
Consider this. Just the process of crafting how this earning process will work is a valuable thing for your client. It helps them stand up for themselves. It has them know that they can both earn and own their results. That they can create their success.
Isn’t that what we all want for our clients?