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There was a time that I believed putting others first was the kindest thing I could possibly do.
This translated into me taking the blame for everything bad that happened in my proximity. This translated into me taking lower pay than some of my peers. This translated into me working more than my fair share. This translated into me giving myself “love” to fill the gaping void – I drank too much and spent a lot of money. Even making over $100,000 per year back in the 90’s, I never had any money – I was always on the edge of disaster.
The house of cards that was my life was exhausting and decidedly unkind, though I thought I was being very generous by putting others first. I was cranky, tired, afraid and angry, which was not kind to me and, honestly, unkind to those around me.
Fast-forward a few years – I married an amazing man after I stopped drinking, got some serious therapy, and started to rest. I had left the corporate world, thinking somehow the causes and conditions for my misery were tied to business and finance (I am a CPA by trade – I worked in corporate financial management before becoming an entrepreneur).
I became a yoga teacher – my long-time passion.
The first principle of yoga is ahimsa – which translates as non-harming. At the yoga school I went to, we were encouraged to choose one yogic principle to work with and go deep with it. I chose ahimsa. This choice has served me well, and continues to do so – especially as a business owner.
When I started teaching yoga, I was confused by my desire to make a good living doing this work I loved. I thought I had left all that behind. Now sober, I realized how resentful I felt when I gave my time and energy away for free. With my focus on building a non-harming business model, I realized that I gave myself away for unkind reasons – I wanted the person to like me or do something for me, since I was so “kind” as to do something for them.
I was so utterly confused by my conflicting desires and my inability to sort out how to interact in a way that was clean in business, that I was relieved when I got pregnant. I spent the first 2 years of my daughter’s life at home, focused on her. But when she started pre-school, my desire to be of service in a bigger way and be paid well for it came back full force. I wondered if it was even possible.
I started a coach training program, and the issue that I posed to my own coach was, “I don’t believe it’s fair to charge for what I do – I want to help people. Charging money feels like it is in conflict with that. How can I serve people, really be non-harming, and make a good living??”
It is a riddle that I have joyously (and sometimes frustratingly) been unraveling for myself and with my clients for three years. Without a shadow of a doubt, I now know that the most non-harming action anyone can take is to charge the appropriate price for services.
Non-harming must start with me – with you. Without feeling full ourselves, what looks like generosity and kindness is often a backwards plea to get our own needs met. A silent, “If I meet your needs, you must meet mine.”
Without being spoken, this is simply unfair and sets everyone up for failure and resentment.
Over the years of working to master the energy of money, worth, and true kindness in business, some truths have become evident:
1. When we value ourselves enough to charge what we are worth, we lead others. We show them that it’s okay for them to value themselves, too. It isn’t always easy, especially when you first begin. People may balk – but that will be short lived.
2. Money is an energetic exchange – more times than not, when people get something for nothing, they simply don’t value it. The money they pay is about their investment in themselves just, as much as it’s about what you do.
3. When we ask for payment, we are also teaching people about self-responsibility. We are telling them that we believe in their ability to take care of their own needs and be resilient. In the long run, this is extreme generosity – the kindest gift you can give another.
4. Being profitable and creating a successful business gives you the option and the power to support change you believe in, instead of simply complaining about the way things are – for instance, I donate a portion of my profits to Global Giving, focusing the donation toward helping budding women entrepreneurs in 3rd world countries. Profits don’t mean I’m a greedy asshole (which I used to believe) it means I have the opportunity to create more of what I want in the future.
By extending non-harming toward yourself first, you can be truly generous. I no longer feel apologetic about charging for my services – just the opposite. I am delighted to serve others and allow them the opportunity to invest in their own success.
I invite you to let the revolution of kindness begin with you. Be generous with yourself, first and foremost. By taking this stance, you will see the world around you shift and change in amazing ways.
Nona Jordan is the Business Yogini – supporting women coaches, healers, and creative solo entrepreneurs who want to do the work they are called to – and build a wildly successful and profitable business in the process. Nona is honored to help women recognize their power to make their true desires a reality. She helps them unearth and heal the legacies around money, work, and worth that silently undermine their ability to create what they long for. Find out more about her signature money + business programs for coaches, healers, and creative solo entrepreneurs at NonaJordan.com