Are You Being Selfish?

Having mentioned this video to a few people in conversation recently, I decided to post it here (so I can direct people to it more easily), and also to open up a discussion about the idea. First of all, if you haven’t watched it before, please do watch it, then continue reading below:

So what did you think?

I must admit, the first time I watched the video, it really clicked with me, because I completely agreed with her, that is we put our time, effort and energy into projects or into helping others, and don’t charge for it , then sometime soon, we will have to take on a normal job just to pay the bills and to survive. There’s also the idea that when you give your time and energy for free, it is not valued as much, and therefore it doesn’t actually help as much as you would like.

But having been on the other side of the fence, so to speak, where I have received help from others and they haven’t charged me, it’s difficult for me to say that you should never do any work for free, because without the invaluable help of several people, I wouldn’t have been able to get my books published and out into the world.

Or would I? Perhaps if they had been charging for their time, I would have found a way to get the money together to pay them. Or perhaps I would have just published the books with a zillion errors in them, or even given up on them seeing the light of day at all.

Or perhaps if I had been charging properly for my time, and not doing so many freebies myself, I would have the money to be able to pay the people who help me.

What do you think? Do you help others and not charge them enough or at all? How do you feel about that? Do people help you and not charge you? Does that make you feel good, or like you owe them?

I do know that I am incredibly grateful for those who have helped me on my journey, and I hope that each of them knows that I intend to pay them back when I am able to.

2 comments on “Are You Being Selfish?

  1. I enjoyed this post a lot, Michelle, and have spent some time thinking about selfishness in the context of our gifts. For me, there are stages of learning, and so I don’t have a “yes do it this way” thought about this issue. I had to learn to value my time and my skills, and to be paid for what I offered. I also had to learn that sometimes I did a disservice by giving freely without compensation, because sometimes folks don’t value what is given for free. And so it’s important to charge them so that they value what they receive. (Perhaps this is a particular American problem; I don’t know!) Clearly Carole’s client VALUED what Carole gave her for free, and that is quite sweet and wonderful. I’ve learned much (even now) from folks who give to me freely. I love to give gifts, and do so when I’m moved and able to do so. Yet I recognize sometimes giving gifts can be quite selfish, IMHO. It’s important to me, personally, to “pay it forward” to others. And sometimes it’s selfish to only think about repaying the one who gave (how’s that for a thought?), because then I’m responding out of ego rather than from the heart.
    No doubt I’ll continue thinking about this post! Much food for thought.


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