Lesson 4 of 7
In Progress

Start Giving Now

hey June 9, 2021

It’s important to give in such a way that feels good to you. This won’t work well if you’re too self-sacrificing or if you feel that your efforts aren’t appreciated much. It may take some experimenting to find the right calibration for you.

I love writing. For me writing is like a meditation. Combining writing with an Internet business is a great outlet for me. But for someone else, this may not be a good fit. If writing is painful for you, you might prefer other ways to contribute, such as by helping people one-on-one, volunteering, recording audio or video, starting a forum, or hosting a meetup group. Don’t feel you have to copy someone else’s approach.

Realize that you don’t have to be an expert to do this. I wrote articles about business success even before my business was doing well. I talked to people who were doing well and contrasted their habits and strategies with those who weren’t doing well. Writing those pieces was a great way to compile this knowledge for myself too. By sharing such ideas publicly, I received feedback to help refine the ideas. I also received lots of encouragement from people who applied those ideas to their businesses with good results. I didn’t have to pretend to be more successful than I was. I could compile and share other people’s lessons just as well. Many successful bloggers and podcasters started out this way.

You can sometimes make a profound difference in someone else’s life just by sharing a simple tip or observation. For example, I observed that the independent software developers who were doing well financially often spend about 50% of their time on marketing activities. The developers who weren’t doing very well usually spent less than 20% of their time on marketing (often less than 5%). Many of the developers who weren’t doing as well in business were highly skilled on the technical side, but they hadn’t invested much effort in learning marketing and sales. Just by sharing this simple observation, some developers shifted the way they allocated their time, and they saw rapid increase in their sales. I also applied this lesson to my own computer games business and saw great results.

You can become an authority by being a good listener and by paying attention. You can do research and share what you learn. You can do your own experiments and share the results. And if you keep doing this sort of thing, you’ll eventually become a legitimate expert in your field, and you’ll attract lots of smart, growth-oriented friends by raising your social profile.

Don’t assume you have to complete a big project in private first to earn the right to help people. You can find a way to be helpful starting today. Just go to a forum or a meetup group, and start helping out where you can.

Give sustainably in ways that feel good to you, but don’t become a people pleaser who says yes to every little request. People pleasers waste energy on low-value giving that isn’t appreciated instead of seeking meaningful contributions that fulfill and uplift them. They distract themselves with scraps instead of planting orchards.

The challenge of deciding where and how to give gets harder over time. The more you give, the more you’ll attract opportunities to give more. Eventually you’ll need to say no to some otherwise amazing invitations. This year in particular, I’ve had to say no to some invitations that I’d have jumped at in the past, so I can focus on the contributions that feel most aligned. It’s never easy to say no to the good in order to pursue something better.

There’s a social reason for focusing your contributions as well. After you attract a lot of growth-oriented friends, the next challenge is to attract friends who are strongly aligned with your biggest goals. Otherwise you may find yourself being pulled in too many different directions. Having growth-oriented friends with lots of different interests can be stimulating for a while, but eventually you may want some friendships that can help you stay focused on your biggest and most important goals.