Boundaries and Values – Part 2

The value of ‘free’

I’ve written about the ‘value of free’ before, though a recent experience has brought this back to the forefront of my awareness. A complete stranger contacted me several months ago about one of my training programs. They had decided they would “quite like to be a life coach”, so could they please attend my NLP Practitioner and Coach certification course (a £1749 value) for free!

Besides having a hell of a nerve, I think that people in that ‘free’ mindset somehow don’t understand that this business is my livelihood as well as my passion. Try pulling that sort of manoeuvre with your landlord or your bank manager and I guarantee you won’t get very far.

As I see it, there are several things wrong with the ‘free stuff’ mindset:

1) ‘Free stuff’ is less valued

In my experience, those who come to a paying seminar have invested something in themselves and are fully engaged in the process. They’re more motivated, tend to get better results and – most importantly – are inclined to practice. Those who have booked on free events I’ve run in the past are less likely to take the material seriously or even to turn up.

2) Investment constitutes a firm commitment

For example, those who invest in themselves take a therapeutic process more seriously. Statistics show that subsidised ‘free’ treatment has more no-shows than paid treatment.

3) Those who invest in themselves tend to be more involved and have specific outcomes

For example, training people within a business shows a great contrast with those who choose to attend our public courses. And the greatest contrast can be experienced when talking about outcomes. Many people treat a business training course as a ‘day away from their desk’ and that often translates into either a day off work or wasted time – neither of which is a positive way of engaging with the material. Needless to say, it’s good to get this out of the way beforehand.

4) ‘Free’ is a game that everyone has to play for the system to work

The ‘free’ mindset can be a tad selfish – “what can I get for nothing?” – but it’s important to look at the whole system to check the ecology. I would be perfectly happy to work for free if I can get free rent, free food, free clothes, transport, heating, electricity, water etc. and can live tax-free. I somehow can’t see that happening any day soon 🙂

5) There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Free material can sometimes have value, but it’s not motivated by altruism. It’s there to promote, to pitch, to up-sell, to build brand awareness or to educate, so your mileage may vary. In short, there is a lot of dross out there. Personally, I follow a principle I learned from marketing expert Mark Joyner – Don’t give something away that you couldn’t otherwise sell. It’s not a ‘free lunch’ but it does have substance – and is therefore a win/win.

Value, substance and standards

I think it’s vitally important to have standards. I feel great after delivering a training because I know that my trainees all measure up to a high standard of ability. Most of them don’t quite realise how high those standards are, because the training experience is so relaxed and fun. However, they consistently stand out from the crowd and I’m proud we could accomplish that together.

Naturally, I’m keen to promote more of that, so I’m done with ‘free for the sake of it’ and when it comes to my values, compromise is inappropriate.

As I said in Part 1 of this article, Life can be something of a teacher. However, it’s up to us which lesson we learn from life.

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