Why I Don’t Work For Free

by Mark Ivar Myhre on March 5, 2008

Recently, someone asked me –

“Why dont you do mankind a favour and reveal your secrets to help the unfortunate ones who dont have the money to purchase books?”

Since it pushed so many buttons in me, I figured I’d take a little time to process it out. And you can join along with me for the ride!

First of all, if someone is so unfortunate as to not be able to buy a book, they have much greater problems than I can solve anyway. I’ve never known anyone who could not buy a book.

The question is, how badly do they want the book?

Apparently, not very badly. Apparently, I haven’t demonstrated the value of my books. Because anyone can get money if they’re sufficiently motivated to buy something.

I’ve known homeless crack addicts who – somehow or another – managed to get a good bit of money on a regular basis. A lot more money than any of my books cost.

It’s not a question of money.

Anyone can get money if they want it. Or at least, anyone who has computer access can get money. If you’re savvy enough to get onto the internet, you can find a way to get money if you really want it. At the very least, you can write articles for people who will pay you.

Start with this site: associatedcontent.com. But there are many more sites that will pay you to write. Did you know there are many sites that pay you to blog?

I could go on and on about money, but that’s not the issue. Because if you needed one of my books, and you convinced yourself my book could solve your problem, you’d get the money.

(Or else, you’d write me the right kind of email and then I would give you a book for free. I do give away a lot of books. But only to people who ask in the right way. Most people don’t ask in the right way.)

No, it’s really a question of entitlement.

“I’ve suffered so I should get it for free.”

“I’m special.”

“I shouldn’t have to pay.”

Boy, do I know entitlement! I LIVED it for most of my life. Which probably explains why this whole situation of ‘just give it to me for free’ pushes my buttons.

It could be the unresolved issues inside of me:

Maybe I’m still looking for a free ride myself? Maybe I still want someone else to take up my slack? Maybe I still think I’m special?

I don’t know.

What I do know, is that entitlement is a dry well.

Entitlement never gets you anything worthwhile. Believe me, no one was more entitled than I was! (Not that I want to swap lies with you…)

Entitlement always leaves you thirsty. Always unsatisfied. It always leaves you empty. It’s no fun. You have to keep remembering your little story. All the reasons ‘why not’.

Finally I just got so sick of it, I decided to pick myself up and get to work on being responsible. What a difference it made!!!

The answer to entitlement is to tell yourself the truth:

Nobody in the world is capable of being responsible for your life. Nor would you really want them to be.

Another thing that bothers me about this issue: I’m already giving away quite a bit of valuable information as it is. Most of the work I do, I don’t make a penny for it.

Not that I’m complaining. I love what I do and I do what I love.

Just getting positive feedback means at least as much as making another sale. You’ll probably never find anyone who cares less about money than I do.

Unfortunately, I can’t go to the grocery store and tell them:

“Hey, you got all this food here. Why don’t you just give me some of it?”

Or go to the barber shop:

“Hey, it’s not costing you any money to cut my hair. Why don’t you just do it for free?”

The hairdresser is going to be insulted. Why?

Because you don’t value them. You don’t value their expertise. You don’t value their time. You don’t value their worth. You don’t value their life – and what they’re doing with it.

But unlike the hairdresser, I do give a lot away for free already. And I had to pay dearly for what I know. Sometimes with money. Mostly, though, I paid by giving up the things I held so dear. Like my pity.

If it had been ‘free’ – I doubt I would have valued it anyway. I doubt I would have paid attention. I doubt I would’ve really learned anything.

That’s why I wouldn’t really be doing mankind a favor by giving all my ‘secrets’ away for free. People pay much less attention to what they get for free.

The greater the perceived value, the more someone pays attention.

Try this little experiment: Go buy a cheap bottle of wine, and ask the sales clerk to put a really high price tag on the bottle. Then go take it over to someone’s house. Don’t say a word about the price. (They’ll see the tag!)

And watch what they say about the wine.

I did this myself, at a party for medical doctors. It fooled them all.

Also, life is not about taking.

To get anything, something must be given up.

Life is about exchange. Sometimes money is involved, sometimes not.

I value myself. I’m honored when someone buys one of my books. They’ve demonstrated their trust. They’ve honored me.

Very, very few people have ever returned anything I sell on the internet. I’m proud of that fact. Because I know how much garbage is out there. Sometimes the garbage comes with a very high price.

I like to think I give a lot of value.

If you want a free book, you’d be much better off thinking, “What can I give?” rather than, “What can I take?”

Doors open when you truly give of yourself.


Myrna March 14, 2008 at 12:08 am

+Hey Mark
I don't work for free either. If
I make an above average product
and ask the right price, I don't value myself or my work. To the people who want it for free, I ask
do you have a cell phone ? How about an SUV ? Cable TV ? Fake nails ? Why is that more important ?

ivar March 14, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Hi Myrna

good to hear from you.

actually, the guy who wrote me wrote back and said that's not what he meant.

maybe I'm just too sensitive to this??

well, I've never been afraid to jump to conclusions.

Anonymous March 15, 2008 at 12:44 am

I work writing for a living. If I gave away my writing, I would not be seen as a "real" writer and I would be shortchanging myself and the value of my work. I have NO problem paying for something that will help me. I buy lots of frivolous things so I can certainly afford to buy something that will help me to get through life in a more calm, confident way.


Anonymous March 20, 2008 at 6:10 pm

It sure looks to me like you are working very hard and should be paid. It took lot's of time and effort to get this site together. Lot's of people earn a living helping others…Dr. Phil, Oprah!!!I am pretty sure they have more money than you will ever see and they keep drawing a paycheck! I have live through anti-depressant withdrawal from Effexor and you are not kidding. I thought I was dying and the doc thought I was crazy!! Keep up the good work!

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