Should you accept payment for helping someone?

A friend of mine helps people for a living.  Well, she helps people all the time.  She just helps people. It’s who she is.  So, it stands to reason that, professionally, her work includes helping people make the most of their career and, in the process, their life.  So, what’s the problem?  She feels guilty taking money from people for the help she gives them.  The question: Should she be accepting payment for helping someone?  We are just supposed to help people because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

Well, here’s my question for her:

Should you accept payment for anything other than helping someone?

In other words, if you aren’t helping someone, I would argue that accepting payment would be somehow empty and unrewarding, wouldn’t it?  After all, our entire society and our economy is built around two parties agreeing to exchange things of value.  I pay my groundskeeper money (something he values) to keep the royal grounds in a state of pristine beauty (something I value).  He is accepting payment for helping me.  Try that model with anything for which you have ever paid money.  When were you happy to part ways with your green and when did you not feel so good about it?  Chances are you gladly pay when it is for something that is helpful (i.e something you value).  And there’s a lump in your stomach when you feel ripped off (i.e. you drop dough on something that didn’t help you).

Money is how our economy and our society assigns value to things.  It’s how you know if something is of value to people.  Another way of saying “is of value to people” is “helps people.”

I work with a local coaching firm on workshops that truly change people’s lives.  The workshops have certainly changed my life and my family forever.  How that work has done that is another series of posts.  Anyway, people pay money for these workshops.  Whenever I speak to people about attending, the obstacle almost always seems to be time or money.  For this post, let’s talk about money (again, we can discuss time in another post).

If I truly believe these workshops change lives and if I truly want my friends and others to have this life changing experience, why wouldn’t I just pay for the workshop for people that cite money as an obstacle?

I’ll tell you.

It’s not really the money.  That’s right.  It can’t possibly really be the money.  We don’t even get to the money conversation until the person already has agreed that this work will change their life for the better.  Dramatically so.  So if it’s not the money, what is it?  It’s value.  It’s spending money on one’s self.  When someone says, “I can’t spend the money right now,” what they really mean is, “I am not worth it right now.”  In other words, I don’t pay for their workshop because I want them to experience an “I’m worth it” breakthrough. Then, their table is set for even greater breakthroughs at the workshop.  If I pay for it, then they may have agreed that the workshop will change their life, but they haven’t agreed with me that they are worth changing.

In the end, I hope I make millions of dollars in my lifetime.  I even hope to hang on to a few of those dollars.  I also plan to make sure as many of those dollars as possible come from people who would say they were helped by me in return.

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