Why Working For Free May Be Exactly What You Need, And Why The Concept Of Money Is Holding You Back

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Letting go of your feelings of entitlement in order to stoop down and squeeze your ego through the ‘low’ door that is volunteer or low-pay work, could be precisely what you need to do; for on the other side of that door, could be many more…

We are in an age of opportunity—yes, mostly in the west; but the internet has given those even in the most rural and poor conditions an opportunity to do something. Doing something, to many an ear, however, also means earning money; and this is a rather unique and potentially dangerous problem.

We are all familiar with the word entitlement; this word is one that we probably have some experience of, and, in fact, can most likely at this very moment name something we believe we are entitled to; and this is good, because it keeps the world in check, it enables progress, it provides incentive. Too much of it, however, is delusional, and delusion is rarely a good thing.

The increase in opportunity has also increased the general expectation to be rewarded—almost always in the form of money—for any expenditure of time and/or energy. The first problem is that not every expenditure in life is rewarding, in any form (consider the struggle of starting your own business, household chores, and listening to your best friend complain about x, y and z…); the bigger problem is to do with learning, which can come in very large doses in such things as volunteer/low-paid work, but is not typically viewed as the reward that settles the every-increasing feeling of entitlement. But acquired knowledge and understanding is a reward, perhaps the greatest reward one can receive; for what you can do with money is entirely knowable as soon as you have it, and it is a limited resource, whereas, knowledge and understanding can take you places that even your dreams cannot know at this moment, and is, as far as we know, an unlimited resource.

Intentionally doing work for free, or even paying to do work—be it in the form of just time and energy, or, with your very own money—does not only provide a deep learning experience; the opportunities one open yourself up to when doing voluntary work—and doing it well—are potentially life-changing. First, the people whom you work with will almost instantly take to you—especially if they are paid-workers—which means they’re more likely to present you to other people, and to say good things about you, and to help you improve. In other words, they increase your opportunities just by taking a liking to you. Second, being a volunteer tends to give you a little bit of free-rein—both in the form of doing work poorly, and therefore increasing your learning rate, and by giving you the opportunity to try your hand at many different tasks (also called floating), which increases general competence, and gives you an idea of what you’re good at and not so good at, and what you like and don’t like. The benefits are massive.

Now consider the fact that all of this is lost if one feels too entitled or superior to do voluntary or low-pay work.

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