The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
Many of you know that I regularly offer gift sessions on a pay it forward basis. Some people upon discovering this, express concern that I may be taken advantage of, especially when they learn that I do not screen potential recipients or ask for any proof of income or how they’re going to pay it forward. Although I appreciate their concern, I’m always a bit surprised. I find it hard to imagine that people would actually lie to get some free yoga, meditation, and/or coaching sessions.
More importantly, I’d rather trust people. I figure the last thing someone struggling financially needs is to suffer the indignity of distrust. If people tell me that they can’t afford to pay for sessions right now, I take them at their word unless they give me reason not to do so.
I truly believe that people give what they can when they can, and gifts come in all kinds of forms, least of which is money, although I appreciate money as much as anyone, especially when it comes to paying my bills. However, the reality is that most of us have periods where we're short on cash and need a hand as much if not more than a handout because the only thing worse than struggling is struggling alone.
At such times, my deal with anyone who enters into a pay it forward working relationship with me is: I give freely to you. You give freely to someone else when you're in a position to do so, and we all feel good doing more good. It’s that simple. As far as I know, no one has ever taken advantage of this, or if someone has, he or she has done such a good job scamming me that I had no idea.
I’m deeply grateful to be in a position to offer this work to those who might otherwise not have the opportunity. I know that whatever success I currently enjoy is due in no small part to the generous support of clients, friends, family, and countless others, as well as the significant privileges bestowed upon me just by being born into this particular life. My policy of gifting sessions whenever I can is my way of paying that goodwill and good fortune forward.
And I'm not the only one who feels this way. I have clients who regularly pay a little more for their sessions to help fund pay it forward sessions for others. People can be so awesome.
This week I received a card from one of my clients. When we first met, he was going through a major life transition and didn’t have any discretionary income available for sessions, so we worked together on a pay it forward basis. When he entered a more stable, lucrative stage in his life, he began paying for sessions.
When I opened the card, I read, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I can’t thank you enough. Back pay for individual yoga sessions and therapy.” Enclosed were a bunch of crisp bills, more than covering the cost of his gifted sessions.
I immediately sent him a note, “Oh my goodness! I just opened your card. You are so sweet, but that's far too generous. Even if you wanted to pay me for work which I was truly happy to gift, that's too much. I know that you're working hard to earn and save. Shall I put it toward future sessions?”
His response? “It's reimbursement. Thanks, but I won't accept it back. My cash flow is good, so not to worry. Well earned.”
Awww. How awesome.
This, my dear friends, is one of the many reasons why I don’t worry about being taken advantage of when I gift sessions, and why I'm not exaggerating when I tell you how lucky I am to be working with such awesome people. Seriously. These people are awesome.