I once was asked to teach a class called “Getting Paid What You’re Worth.” A lot of people signed up to take the class. They all felt that they were not making the kind of money they deserved to make; most told me they had NEVER done so!
They were all women, all bright, articulate, feeling people. And not one of them felt she was earning what she was worth.
I remember asking one attendee, a consultant who said she loved her work and made a real, positive contribution to the companies she assisted, “How’s your car?” And she said, “It needs a tune- up, why?” I said, “Let me ask you another question: How’s your toaster?” She said, “It’s broken.” I said, “How’d I know that?”
In my view, this lady was so interested in helping out that she forgot to take care of herself in the process. She discounted her services and put in a lot of time for free because she believed that people just couldn’t pay her.
It’s fine to do work for free - I do it all the time. But I call it “volunteering in the community”; I don’t call it “business.”
My point? I think the fact that this lady didn’t know if her car would get her safely to her client and back home had to influence her ability to be effective for her client, and the fact that she couldn’t even make a piece of toast in the morning to fortify her for the day also affected her ability to make a meaningful professional contribution.
What was needed was a transition: a decision to approach her business life with greater professionalism, and education about how to conduct conversations about money that don’t result in discounting prices. Those things can be learned!
And when you’re financially on sound footing - that is, your car and your toaster are fully functional, along with all the other essentials of your life - your contributions as a volunteer tend to be more meaningful and gratifying, too.