For many successful entrepreneurs, the line between what makes money and what doesn’t is pretty clear. If the customer buys your product then it makes you money. If I invest in training my employees then they will add value to the company i.e. it makes money. One area that is harder to put a value on is giving stuff away, more specifically, giving your skills, time, and resources away.
I’m NOT talking about giving handouts in a way that handicaps people and creates dependency. I’m talking about giving opportunities to people that need them.
I learned at an early age that when I give something away I should not expect anything back from that person. For a long time, this didn’t make sense to me. It felt I was allowing myself to be cheated because I was confident my skills had value. It took me years to see that the real reason my parents told me not to expect anything from people you give things to is because it changes your whole mindset about why you gave in the first place as well as how you will feel about the relationship in the future.
Despite our efforts, oftentimes most of us are not very effective communicators. When we give something away we usually don’t get into the nitty-gritty details because it can make the conversation awkward. This leads to neither the giver nor the receiver knowing exactly what either expects from the other. All too often the giver will end up expecting much much more from the receiver than the receiver understood. This inevitably leads to the giver feeling cheated and taken advantage of. By giving freely and not expecting anything back, this eliminates this inevitable communication problem between both parties.
Another issue that arises when you give away things with strings attached is that most people don’t want to be around individuals that are always expecting something in return. Marion Hill said, “If you are grading your own test, you will pass every time! Be careful of your self-perception because it could deceive you.” It is very easy to start burning bridges when you feel other people owe you something. When you give something to someone it is easy to see yourself in a celestial light, which can cloud our judgment and cause us to feel that any actions we take or anything we say is justified because the receiver “owes us.” The easiest way to prevent that situation is to not expect anything back from them.
Give because you care. Give because you want to help. Don’t give with strings attached. Giving with strings attached is basically an effort to buy respect. That respect doesn’t last. Lasting respect is earned, not bought.
Some people say what goes around comes around. Others call it karma. (Guy Kawasaki calls it a "karmic scoreboard in the sky.") Still others call it divine intervention. Regardless of what you want to call it, good things come to those who do good and vice versa. Susan Roane says, “It’s not what you know or who you know, but who knows you.” Be someone worth knowing.
Living by this policy has opened up more doors and opportunities for me than anything else I have invested in.