Have you ever had anyone ask you this in your business? If you haven't, it's either because you're invisible, you've only been in business for five minutes, or because you look mean. :-)
Years ago, when I asked a business mentor about this, she told me:
'These people are free-loaders. I don't even respond to them. They just want to take advantage of you.'
Then, being newer in business, I thought I should take that advice on, but it rankled my heart. As much as I tried, and as many times as I've heard other people give similar advice, I just can't get my heart around it.
Are these people really freeloaders?
Let me answer that question with a question: have you ever been in a tight situation, and needed help, and felt like you had nothing to offer in return?
I have. Many times. Many, many times. My old way was to just suck it up, and pretend I was okay, hide my challenges. I've been learning, slowly and painfully over the years, to ask for help.
If someone's asking you for a 'freebie,' I'm going to make the outrageous guess that they aren't trying to freeload or con you. I'm going to assert instead that they probably feel like they're at the end of at least one of their ropes, and that they are feeling some shame or embarrassment.
I'm betting that it took quite a bit of effort for them to reach out and ask you.
What would Jesus do? Or the Buddha?
Or any of the saints, holy teachers, or good samaritans? What would any of them do? Do you think they would just call someone who asked for help a 'freeloader?' I don't think so. So why should we?
But how do I make a living if I keep giving everything away?
Ahhh... grasshopper. If you notice, Jesus, Buddha, and the saints weren't 'free' boxes- they didn't just give whatever someone asked for. They gave the right thing to the right person in the right amount. Some people got a smile. Others were resurrected from the dead.
Sing this song to someone who asks: "You don't always get what you want.... but, you get what you need..." (Feel free to add in air guitar if you like.)
When someone asks for free help, don't turn your back, and don't just hand them the keys to the treasury. So, how do you figure out what to tell someone who asks?
Keys to Opening the Treasury
One, two, three...
In my spiritual lineage there is a teaching: the first instinct you have is from God, the second is from your ego, and the third is from the devil.
The trouble is, the first one is usually quiet and quick, unless you're used to listening for it. Next time someone asks you for something, see if you can track your three responses. You might need to track backwards, because you may only be aware of the second and third ones.
Example: "Hey, can I have a free slot in your class?"
First instinct: ??? (Ran right past the first instinct.)
Second instinct: No way, I'm not giving it away for free. (Ego in self-protection.)
Third instinct: Man, why do I always get hit with the freeloaders? Piss off. (The 'devil' in judgement and attack.)
Taking a moment with your heart may reveal the First instinct: Compassion, a desire to help.
What is the First Path?
We run past the first instinct, because it scares us. We get a sideways glance at 'Compassion and a desire to help,' or whatever it was for you, and run past it because we don't know what it means. If you stop, return to your heart, and back up, you can follow the First Instinct down the First Path.
This means that if you say 'Yes' to your first instinct, you can then ask your heart: What does that look like? It may look like a smile and a website link for the person, as one friend of mine did recently for someone who asked (that person then apologized and bought my friend's book). Or, you may end up giving them a free slot, as I've done once or twice in the past, and seen that person go on to get amazing results, and sign up for my other offers at full price.
The example can go the other way.
I've listed the First Instinct example as: Compassion and a desire to help. But, for you it could easily be the other direction. Maybe your ego is always wanting you to give and give and give... because you are afraid of rejection. So, maybe your First Instinct is to firmly, compassionately say "No."
You won't know unless you take the time to ask.
The real lesson is that we're all here to make life more wonderful for each other. And, what that looks like changes from moment to moment. When someone asks you for help, see if you can back up from your second instinct, and find your First Path.
And let me know if you are surprised by the results.
Mark Silver has sinced written about articles on various topics from Modelling, Sales and Negotiation and Business Plan. Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How money, marketing and sales can deepen your heart, heal the world, and still add to your bottom line. To get three free chapters of the book,. Mark Silver's top article generates over 27100 views. Bookmark Mark Silver to your Favourites.
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