Value Exchange – what’s it cost?

My approach toward payment for my coaching services is in constant evolution as I seek to gain more clarity on my own relationship to money and as I recognize the powerful influence of our unconscious discourses about money.   Transparency about the financial aspects is essential for maintaining a healthy coaching relationship and I it is one that I find particularly challenging.  The following are the basic principles that I am currently using.

I offer my coaching as a gift in the service of creating a healthier and more sustainable world.  My skills as a coach are the result of a lifetime of gifts that I have received – from teachers and mentors, writers, clients and friends.  All of life is a gift and from a spirit of gratitude I want to give back by sharing my gifts.  Coaching services are expensive – often upwards of $150 per hour in the US – which make them unattainable for many people outside of the middle and upper class global north.  I want my work to support of people who are engaged in good work on behalf of people and the planet and not to support the old paradigm of economic success.  So, I ask potential clients “how will coaching enhance your ability to make a difference in the world?”

This gift of coaching is given freely as  a gift without obligation or expectation of receiving anything in return.  If at any time I become unable to give this gift freely or my client is unable to freely accept it, we agree to discuss the issue and to find a resolution that preserves and enhances the coaching relationship.

For coaching to be successful, a client must be committed, “to have some skin in the game”.  This premise can be used to justify high coaching fees with the belief that people only value what they pay for and that they value something more if the cost is high.  It is my experience that coaching can become challenging as difficult issues are surfaced and it is my belief that clients must have a strong commitment to the process to persist when the going becomes difficult.  However, I don’t accept that money has to be the tool for assuring commitment.  Other types of currency can be effective in sustaining commitment and motivation and the process of discovering one’s own form of commitment currency  is part of the learning process of coaching.  So, I ask potential clients “what is the commitment currency that will assure your continuing investment in the coaching process?” 

Generous giving and grateful receiving are complementary practices.  In some Eastern spiritual practices there is a practice of honoring the teacher with a gift.  The size and type of gift is not important.  What is important is that the gift be a genuine expression from the heart of gratitude for the teachings and for the relationship.  As a coach, I welcome similar gifts as a way of honoring the role that I have played in hosting a client’s change process.  Like my gift of coaching, it is important that any gift be freely given without a sense of obligation.  While it is customary to give such a gift at the end of the coaching process, the timing is not important; a gift is welcome at any time.   Gifts need not be monetary; creative expressions, books, hospitality will all be received with gratitude. If you would like to make a financial contribution (now or at any time in the future), the button below will allow you to do this through my Paypal account.

But what about those  who just want to pay for services, who are uncomfortable with the ambiguity of the gifting or who work for organizations that cannot live without invoices?  As much as I long to live and work fully in the gift economy and to do away with money as we know it, I realize that we have not reached that possibility yet; we still live in a very monetized culture.  So, if someone wants my services and wants to pay for them in the conventional way, I am willing to find a way to accommodate this; we just need to talk.

Update April 23, 2014:  In the almost two years since I wrote this page, things have been shifting, growing and changing.  I have moved more deeply and intentionally into the Gift Economy by giving away most of my belongings and becoming a nomad, following life’s calling and offering my gifts wherever I can and learning to trust in life’s abundance to sustain me.  During this time, I have also been noticing lots of evidence of the Gift Economy, of a new emerging paradigm taking shape in the form of lots of little experiments.  Here is one I just came across and really like the way in which it is addresses how much to give:  Tips if you wonder how much to give.

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