Experts Are Not Free
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
Just because Â I have Â experience Â with something Â and can readily give it doesnâ€™t mean I have to or that I should. Thatâ€™s hard, considering that my life purpose is to share my experiences, but thereâ€™s a reason for this pattern and I think Iâ€™ve finally gotten the lesson in it after talking to my personal Yoda.
This is a trend Iâ€™ve seen in my life over the past 2 months, many times. I can say Iâ€™m attracting this to me, but it seems to be coming in an indirect manner that gets my attention, catches my focus so I can make changes I otherwise would not. This is the way Â change sometimes manifests for when thereâ€™s a better way I need to explore.
The way this particular pattern is shaped is this: I am working with a local group. Maybe itâ€™s a spiritual group. Maybe itâ€™s a writersâ€™ group. Maybe itâ€™s a group focused on abused women. Maybe itâ€™s my homeownerâ€™s association. But a question comes up among a group where Iâ€™m present as a volunteer or socially. This does not occur when Iâ€™m acting in my professional capacityâ€”ever.
So a question comes up. Itâ€™s in an area that no one else there has worked with before. I could sit back and be quiet and watch the group shrug their shoulders or I can offer up Â information Â that Â Iâ€™ve Â come Â by Â the Â hard Â way, through my own experiences. Half the people are eager for free advice and the other half are eager to tell me Iâ€™m an idiot and donâ€™t Â know Â what Iâ€™m Â talking Â about, Â even though I have personal Â experience Â with it and they do not.
Real-life recent Â example: Â A group Â of 25 writers Â are discussing how best to set up a series of books they want their group to publish as a Â joint venture. Iâ€™m there as a volunteer to help with something else and get caught up in listening to their fretting. One of the guys says, â€œHey, does anyone Â know Â the Â best Â way Â to get Â into Â [a certain wholesalerâ€™s catalog]?â€
What am I to do? I can give himâ€”and the groupâ€” that information, for free, in 5 minutes. Itâ€™s something that took a lot of time Â for me to learn and some hard falls. But Iâ€™ve Â always Â believed Â in Â sharing Â abundantly, Â not Â in withholding information when it will help someone. This goes back to my old mindset of ideas coming easily to me, so much so that I feel that ideas are free and should be freely exchanged. But Iâ€™m just a listener and no oneâ€™s asked me specifically for help.
The request for help is from anyone who can offer up information Â so Â I wait for anyone Â whoâ€™s Â an established member of the group to speak up. They donâ€™t. In a few minutes, I see them going off on a path Â thatâ€™s going to cost them a lot of money. My old need to fix things hits me hard and I hate to see them really screw themselves over when I have the answer on the tip of my tongue. So I canâ€™t resistâ€”I speak up. I Â explain the experience Â Iâ€™ve had and whatâ€™s the absolute easiest way to get Â to where they want to be. I give them the secret back door that isnâ€™t advertised. I can even give them my point of contact and her direct phone number, but it doesnâ€™t get that far.
It doesnâ€™t get that far because someone whoâ€™s never published jumps in to tell me something heâ€™s read on the wholesalerâ€™s web site that Â directly contradicts Â what Iâ€™ve said (the official story for the general public). He has no idea what my level of experience is or anything about me, yet he likes to be the expert among the group. Heâ€™s caustic. Pretty Â much Â calls Â me Â stupid Â in front Â of the Â entire Â group. After all, if I really knew what I was talking about, Iâ€™d be bottling it and selling it. Since Iâ€™m not, Iâ€™m not an expert; Iâ€™m an idiot.
I really enjoy helping people but it seems lately that every time I give hard-earned info for free, I get ridiculed. And most Â of theÂ time Â this Â happens, Â itâ€™s when Â I seeÂ a costly mistake coming up and I want to help. I can list at least 20 times this has happened in the past two months, and Â itâ€™s always Â in a place Â where help is specifically Â requested, sometimes begged for, as in â€œPlease, if anyoneâ€” anyoneâ€”has any tips or any idea of how I can get out of this mess, please God, tell me now!â€ And someone Iâ€™ve never met before, someone with no solution and no attempt at a solution, ridicules my suggestionâ€”and Â meâ€” publicly.
Tonight, after discussing Â it with Yoda, Â I do understand why this is happening and what Iâ€™m to get out of it. Itâ€™sÂ like the Universe Â is yelling,Â â€œSTOP GIVING THINGS AWAY FOR FREE! THIS Â IS Â YOUR FUTURE INCOME YOUâ€™RE GIVING AWAY!â€
This is the first of two conversations Â with Yoda that have a big Â impact for me. People donâ€™t value what they get for free. If they must pay for it, then it has value. Anybody Â can Â give Â free Â adviceâ€”thatâ€™s Â the Â impressionâ€”but you have to pay for Â good advice.
One of the things that Iâ€™ll be doing this month is pulling most Â of my freebies offline, Â with the exception Â of some excerpts, articles, and upcoming podcasts. That includes pulling older blog entries, free ebooks, and free ecourses. Iâ€™ll have some freebies out there, but far Â fewer than ever before. Iâ€™m also closing down my involvement in several of my local email loops and communities, too, because they all seem to be about where and how to get a freebie and I donâ€™t feel Iâ€™m getting anything in return but consternation. Â As for the rest, with one to two exceptions, Iâ€™ll be going into lurker mode. Receiving, not transmitting. Iâ€™ll still be available to my friends, but itâ€™s time to tighten down, to pull in and focus after years of expanding.
Itâ€™s hard to swallow but goes down a lot easier when I realize that Iâ€™ve given away thousands of dollars of free advice in the past couple of months alone. Not that all of them would have paid for the informationÂ on a consulting or coaching Â basis, Â but Â itâ€™s time Â for Â me Â to become more than just someone elseâ€™s â€œGreat resource.â€
My intention, for the next 3 months, is to not give advice (outside Â of Â friendships) Â unless Iâ€™m paid to give it. Letâ€™s see how that works…