Why I Choose Generosity

The other day, I was asked, “If you have a contract to work X hours per week with a client and you are going over those hours doing tasks that are not directly what you signed up for, what would you do?”

I thought about this question for an hour or two at my office until I saw this friend later in the afternoon. I said, “I have my answer, but I know you aren’t going to like it. Nevertheless, it’s still my honest answer.”

I said, “I would choose to be generous over being a stickler about the contract. I would generously give more of my time, and as a result, give more value to the client than what I am receiving.”

I have thought about that conversation for a few days now and it has stuck with me. I’m very serious about that answer and I believe it applies to many areas of our lives, but it definitely applies to business. Give more than you receive. If I’m working with a client and they agree to pay me $1000, I hope that at the end of the job they will feel that they received more value from me in what I delivered than what they expected. I certainly don’t want it to be the other way around. I would be embarrassed if they paid me $1000, but later complained to their friends or coworkers that they feel what I delivered was only worth $800.

That friend replied to me, “But what if it’s consistently 5–7 hours per week that you’re working more than you agreed??”

I know there is a threshold of how generous we can feasibly be before we’re just being taken advantage of. I get it. I just don’t know where that threshold is. I think it’s different for different people. If you find yourself dreading the work or being negative about the client under your breath or to your friends, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate the agreement and have an honest conversation with the client. Communication is one of our most powerful tools. Just talk about it. Having sat in both seats as the one who does the hiring and managing, but also having done freelance work; I very much appreciate open and honest dialogue.

Be generous. I promise you there is a massive upside and ROI.

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