I recently went to a women’s entrepreneur coffee event and the guest speaker – a very successful, self-made business owner made the comment, “I get asked to lunch by a lot of folks – if there is nothing in it for me – I say no thank you.” Initially, that sounded really harsh and went against my innate need to help others. My first reaction was one of shock that this successful woman was not interested in giving back and helping others find their success. BUT… she went on to explain that folks that came to her with an idea, a plan, a proposition and had put some time into it she would certainly help. It was the folks that came with nothing and just wanted her to tell them what they should do to be successful that she had no time for.
As a business owner myself, I get requests for donations, support, information, coffee meetings, lunch meetings and so on. I just don’t have enough hours in the day to help everyone and still do my job. While I really hate to say no and would love to donate my time or offer advice more – I can’t do it all and still have time to teach and run a business. I’m beginning to understand just where this successful business owner is coming from!
Time is truly a commodity and we probably all wish we had a few more useable hours in the day! You don’t have to be a business owner to run into this dilemma – but I do think having a more flexible schedule lends itself to giving others the impression of more free time. What I am starting to realize is I need to choose wisely with the commitments I make. I have to think about what I need to do from a business standpoint and also for me personally. What is the point of working in the fitness industry if I never carve out time for my own workouts? What kind of role model would I be if I let myself go and didn’t adhere to a program. And who’s going to want my advice or help if I don’t maintain my business and achieve a certain level of success. One feeds the other!
While it’s hard for me to say no, it is a choice that I have to make sometimes. Similar to the business owner I mentioned above- I have to evaluate each request and decide is this a person or organization I believe is doing good things I’d want to support or is this someone looking for a freebie? Unfortunately there are many out there that would like to ride on coattails or poach clients. While I feel I offer a good and unique ‘product’ and am not threatened by competition – that’s just not a good use of my precious time.
We are all asked to do so much these days – life is not simple and many are stretched far to thin. We are not able to do our best when we are exhausted, stressed, hungry, out of shape and so on. Our own requests and needs still need a place and a value. Taking care of ourselves – eating right, choosing fitness, and finding a little social time too should be priorities. We are less able to help others when we don’t help ourselves first.
All that being said- I do still believe it is important to give back and to help others. I do believe these selfless gestures often lead to rewards down the road – be it new clients or good word of mouth marketing. One of the perks of working for myself is I have been able to do more in my community and get involved with organizations I believe in. So I say choose wisely! Pick people or organizations that are willing to do the work and respect and support you at the same time. Steer clear of folks with selfish pursuits. I believe helping others can be very personally rewarding – like an internal pat on the back! But choose wisely and make sure you are still able to take care of yourself, meet your commitments – eat right- workout and have time with family too. It’s ok to say “No” or “Not right now”. You are best able to help others when you take care of yourself. Get involved but choose wisely!