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Value: you can't measure it in dollars and cents

I'm a Life Coach, a Leadership Coach and Mentor, an Author and a presenter of seminars and workshops on many and various topics connected with personal and professional development. I've been doing this for several years now, and I've noticed a common theme emerging.

There are a lot of people out there who want something for nothing.

When I run a free seminar or workshop, which I do from time to time, I'm offering my time to share experiences with anyone who cares to join me. Pro bono. I do it because I know there are people out there who are not only interested in what I have to say but who will get some real value from their participation. My reward is knowing that I'm facilitating an environment in which all participants - including me - can learn from each other and take away something that will help them make a positive difference in their lives.

Quite often these free events will attract a few "tyre kickers." People who come along just because it's free. They're not going to commit to anything, in fact after booking their place - and thereby excluding someone else - they may not even show up at all. If they do show up their participation is all on the surface - in one ear and out the other. They don't pay attention. They may arrive late, be busy doing something else while the event is on, take a call during the event, leave early, or do all of these things. They contribute nothing, often distract or disrupt the other participants, and take nothing of value from their attendance.

I "pay it forward," offering pro bono coaching and mentoring services to people who for one reason or another are experiencing some financial hardship but who are nevertheless prepared to fully commit to their own personal and professional development. I give them the same commitment and service that I give to my paying clients. My reward is in seeing them taking charge of their life, getting out there, kicking goals and achieving their dreams. Take it from me, dollars and cents are nothing compared to that in terms of feeling rewarded for my work.

I spend a lot of time preparing my seminars and workshops, writing my books and working with my clients, both paying and pro bono. I do it because I love it. It's who I am, therefore it's what I do.

Everything I do stems from my life experience; the things I've seen, done, learned and survived on my own trajectory through life. In my life and career I've been around a bit and learned a few things, some through formal academic study and some through the often painful lessons taught by the University of Life. I've seen that by sharing my experience and the lessons I learned from it, I can be of service to others who are still struggling to navigate the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," as Shakespeare put it.

A ninety minute seminar might take me an hour or two to prepare, but there's much more than a couple of hours of my time that goes into it. It's a distillation of all of my life experience, or at least my experience as it relates to the topic.

I work hard to ensure that whenever I present something, whether it's a seminar, a workshop, a training course, a book or one-on-one work with a client, I pack as much value into it as I possibly can. That's "value" in terms of life lessons shared, insights gained and potential new courses of action opened up.

I have observed that when I don't charge a fee for my services, or when my fee is too low, people often don't see the value in it. Therefore, I'm very particular in who I invite to attend my free events or to work with me pro bono. I don't offer anything free of charge to the general public, and the books, seminars, workshops, coaching and mentoring services that I do offer are significantly expensive. That isn't because I want to make lots of money. It's because the price tag says to the world, "there is value here."

If you're offering your services to the world at large, do you factor your own life experience, and the years of blood, sweat and tears that it cost you to acquire it, into the fees that you charge?

If you're seeking such services, how much are you prepared to pay to get real value from the services you receive?

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