How Free is Free?

I was on a forum recently responding to a person (let’s call him Joe, for ease of discussion) who was looking for help. After several several people joined me in offering advice and counsel, Joe was mildly frustrated because he couldn’t get customized help from the people on the forum. He wanted personalized coaching but he wasn’t willing to engage a professional.

Joe gave financial constraints as the reason to not get professional help. Now, first off, let me say that I fully understand and empathize with anyone who has financial constraints. I do. We all do. And we all make choices about what we spend our money on. It is true that some individuals have absolutely no cash to spare for anything but the most basic necessities.

However, I have been around enough to know that most of the time, that is just an excuse. I say that because I have seen that we (including myself) make funds available for the things that we want/desire/are important to us.

We, as humans, want to get as much as we can for as little (both cash and effort) as we can. We want it to be cheap… and preferably, free.

The thing is, speaking philosophically, there is no such thing as free. You can find “free” information on the Internet, but you have to put in “sweat equity” to track it down, filter out what is useful, decide how to apply it in your life, experiment with it, make course corrections, encounter conflicting information, try to evaluate which is accurate or applicable to your life, and then repeat the cycle.

I am not knocking that or saying that doing this is bad or wrong. I have done a lot of that myself. In fact, if you don’t have ready cash, it may the only way to go. But no one should ever think that it is “free”. There is a cost involved.

People who have more cash available can take a quicker route by hiring expertise to assist them… someone who has already been down the trail they want to go. The get to their destinations faster, with less effort and fewer missteps. There was a cost to them, as well.

Forums (and similar venues)are great and people are really helpful. They offer their advice and experience freely. You can get a ton of help in them. But, you still have to personalize it to your situation and filter out what is not workable in your situation. There is a cost to it. And no one can give it all away… all the time… to everybody… for very long… unless they subsidized by a philanthropic organization.

I give away a ton of helpful info every week. But I see firsthand (and know from personal experience as well) that the people who just do the “free stuff” don’t see very good results very fast. We all have to work with where we are and some only have the cash for the “free” stuff. But I would encourage you to move from that mode as quickly as you can and into the recognition that you get what you pay for.

(This may sound like a commercial for my services but it is not. There are lots of coaches and therapists available and any half-decent one is useful. The really good ones are more than useful — they are an incredibly good value. That said, there are some of you who would benefit from my services–both financially and success-wise. By all means, show enlightened self-interest and work with me.)

I don’t know of anybody who does (or even tries to do) everything by themselves for themselves. We use mechanics and dentists, and doctors, buy produce from the grocery (or from farmers) and hire teachers, and many other professionals. And we do it because it is a good value proposition.

I have been down both roads… and still do. And I can attest that the better value proposition is to hire a professional (specialist) to help you whenever it is feasible for you. Please… for your own speedy success… use your resources wisely and get professional help in every arena that you can.

Your turn. What’s your take on it? Do you have any words of wisdom for Joe (or for the rest of us?) Use the comments box and share it with us.

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How Free is Free? — 2 Comments

  1. You’re right again. Sorting through the free stuff takes time and energy. It would be wise to pay someone else to do that for you. And the added benefit is you also get someone to hold your feet to the fire and push you to move forward. Coaches are indispensable.

  2. Tim, I’ve done it both ways and find it is MUCH faster (and ultimately cheaper) to get guidance on things instead of trying to figure it all out on my own.

    I agree that coaches are indispensable. (And not just because I am one… I have my own coach to help me perform my best, too.) Thanks for that endorsement of coaches and coaching.

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