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The Paradox of The Generosity Mindset™

The Paradox of the Generosity Mindset

Since I released my book, The Generosity Mindset, one of the most frequent comments I’ve received is that the whole idea that a generous mindset leads to effective pricing for your services is counterintuitive.

I agree with the observation, yet it’s not as counterintuitive as it seems.

Generosity is not giving everything away

I once heard about a group of leadership coaches who met regularly to exchange ideas, best practices for their work, and network with each other. The person who told me about the group said that there was a minority—a fervent one, apparently—who believed that they should not charge anything for their services. They were there to help and to serve, was the thinking, and that taking money to serve could taint or negatively influence their work.

Beyond the arrogance inherent in this thinking, here’s the problem: if you’re not in business, you can’t serve anyone. A leadership coachor any other service provider—who cannot sustain themselves cannot, over time, come anywhere close to their goal of transforming as many lives as they can touch.

Virtually every solo and small firm professional services professional I know is in business to serve others. They want to make a transformative difference in the lives of their clients. 

To do so for any length of time at all, however, the business must be operated in a way that insures its long-term health and viability. A failed business serves no one.

It’s true for non-profits, too. If a non-profit regularly gives out more than it collects in donations, grants, and other receipts, then it will not be around to serve.

There is no cause so noble that is exempt from this basic relationship.

Offering Value By Temporarily Setting Aside Your Needs

As I explain in my book, The Generosity Mindset™ involves setting aside your own needs and whatever it is you have to sell and opening yourself to a genuine understanding of the needs, hopes, frustrations, and goals of others. As I write in the book:

"When you think about what’s going on in the head of your client, you come to the table with some compassion, understanding, and, yes, generosity. You seek ways to help and solve a problem that your client may not be able to communicate well. When you approach client engagements with The Generosity Mindset—whether an initial value conversation or an emergency cry for help when they think the bottom is falling out beneath them—you offer extraordinary value by slowing down and bringing calm to the situation.

"You don’t rush in to talk about your service offering. You don’t cause anxiety by charging in with sales scripts and memorized counters to objections. You bring two open ears and one mouth to the conversation and use those tools in that proportion. You allow a client to breathe, to unload, and hopefully to get to a point where they share what has been weighing them down. This act alone is liberating for the client…"

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."

The above quote by James Keller perfectly expresses the paradox of The Generosity Mindset.

When you temporarily set aside your own needs and focus on those of others, you create space for opportunities that you might not have dared dream. As I write in the book:

"While The Generosity Mindset may seem counterintuitive to achieving personal success, it is paradoxically the key to unlocking deep and lasting prosperity. By genuinely putting others first, you create for yourself a virtuous cycle of trust, influence, goodwill, and reciprocity. The universe responds in kind. You will be able to open doors to new opportunities, form valuable and unexpected alliances, and propel you and your business toward and even past the goals you have set for yourself."

When you build such a foundation of trust, influence, and goodwill, you've moved beyond “service provider” status. You’re recognized as a professional of value.

As you grow into that status, clients will invariably see more value in working with you, almost always more than you even see yourself. You attract clients who are best suited for you. Further, you are better able to price to receive a portion of the value of the transformative outcomes you deliver. That pricing is invariably better than what you're experiencing now.

In turn, your practice has sustainability and a solid foundation. If you want, you can confidently take on a project that won’t contribute much to your revenue but is important for your community. You can coach your kid's basketball team or show up at your granddaughter's ballet class. You can volunteer at that Habitat for Humanity build or work in some other volunteer capacity.

Your candle will light those of others, and you'll lose nothing in the process.


Are you frustrated by your pricing? Need help articulating your value? Do you need a better way to identify and close your best-fit clients? Do you want to restore the joy you used to have for your business? I may be able to help you.

I’m John Ray, a business consultant and coach, author, and podcaster. I advise solopreneurs and small professional services firms on their two most frustrating problems: pricing and business development. I’m passionate about how changes in mindset, positioning, and pricing change the trajectory of a business and the lifestyle choices of a business owner. My clients are professionals who are selling their expertise, such as consultants, coaches, attorneys, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, marketing professionals, and other professional services practitioners. Click here to learn more or contact me directly.

This post is adapted from my national bestselling book, The Generosity Mindset: A Journey to Business Success by Raising Your Confidence, Value, and Prices. The book covers topics like value and adopting a mindset of value, pricing your services more effectively, proposals, and essential elements of growing your business. The book is available at all major physical and online book retailers.


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