Fair Exchange

“Coaches HATE selling” screamed the headline of an advert for an online course that I saw on Facebook recently.

It was clearly aimed at life coaches who, well, find the idea of selling their services difficult, to say the least. And I would guess that that applies to most who take up this career – at least in the early stages.

“The universe is based on fair exchange. What you give you will get.”

– Guruji Sri Sri Poonamji

Fair exchange

Fair Exchange (continued)


Limiting beliefs

You see, life coaches are generally people who are passionate about helping others live their best lives. They’re great at what they do and they love doing it … but when it comes to promoting themselves and their services, many fall prey to the very issues that they spend their lives helping their clients eradicate – limiting beliefs!

What good is it being the most capable life coach in the world if you’re going to hole up at home hoping the world will somehow beat a path to your door. On the other hand, how unfulfilling is it to have to work all hours of the day to try and make ends meet because you feel guilty about charging more than a nominal fee for your services.

At New Insights our training helps prepare our certified coaches to tackle these conundrums.

Fair exchange

One of the concepts we discuss in our training is ‘fair exchange’ which means, literally, a balance between give and take.

Coaching involves a lot of giving of oneself as one’s full focus and attention should be on one’s client and what he or she wants to achieve. Good coaching produces results – often quite dramatic results, which have tremendous value (financial and/or otherwise) for clients.

We believe that good coaches, that is those who consistently produce results for their clients, deserve to be well rewarded and guilt free.

We teach free exchange as meaning:

“Don’t expect something for nothing and don’t give something for nothing. If you do, then you are out of balance with life.”

The perfect altruist

It may be that you, like many of our trainee coaches – having been brought up to believe that it is good to give something and ask nothing in return – may feel uncomfortable with this. If so, allow me to heighten your discomfort a little in order to make my point:

The notion of the perfect altruist does not exist! (An altruist is someone whose only concern is for the welfare of others).

By this I mean that people who are very giving, give for good reason.

The reason could be one of many. For example,
▪ to hear others compliment them on ‘how kind they are’;
▪ to assuage some sense of guilt;
▪ to make them feel happy;
▪ to increase the chances of receiving something in return;
▪ to put them in good standing with some organisation, authority or higher power;
▪ to make up for past injustices they feel guilty for;
▪ to give them the moral high ground;
▪ to make friends …

… You name it, there are any number of other possible reasons.

Hidden agendas

People who appear to ‘give away something for nothing’ typically have a ‘hidden agenda’. I use this term not in a deprecating sense at all but simply to make the point that there is always a reason for giving, even if that reason is not always obvious.

Have you ever offered someone ‘something for nothing’? What was your hidden agenda? (Once again, in case you’re worried, I’m not suggesting that a hidden agenda is necessarily ‘bad’. It is simply a powerful motive that is not declared to others.)

If you’re shaking your head, why don’t you test out my theory?

Next time someone offers you a gift ‘from the goodness of their heart’ saying they want nothing in return, take the gift (graciously, of course) and then give it away to someone you feel is more in need! Then watch the hidden agenda reveal itself!

The importance of practising fair exchange

So let’s get back to fair exchange and why it is important both to practice it yourself and expect if of others.

Each one of us has a unique perspective on the world we live in. It stands to reason therefore, that ‘fair exchange’ must be a subjective concept. How then, can we ensure that fair exchange is truly fair?

To me this is quite simple. When both parties to a transaction feel that they are receiving at least as much value as they are giving, then there is fair exchange.

Practising fair exchange has the benefit of keeping you rooted in the present moment which is important for one’s growth and development.

When you contemplate an exchange that you believe to be unfair, you will find it difficult to remain ‘present’ in the moment. Your growth will be stunted as your mind becomes consumed with thoughts about what should, or ought to have been and your energy becomes diverted.

Have you ever done some work for which you felt you were underpaid? Or have you ever felt that you got paid too much for something that you did (or didn’t do)?

Think back to these times and I think you’ll understand what I mean!


This is the official Blog for New Insights Life Coach Training. Find out more about life coaching and becoming a life coach here:

SA/Africa: http://www.life-coach-training-sa.com

UK/Europe: http://www.life-coach-training-uk.com

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  1. Renate
    Sep 26, 2017

    thank you Bill. I had a relevant experience recently which I would like to share. I am teaching and I had held my fees for about 10 years feeling increasingly disadvantaged and underpaid. I had considered raising my prices, but knowing the market (which doesn’t value teachers highly) I had decided against it.
    Well, the other day a client suggested that I raise my fees!!! Imagine my feelings. They ranged from feeling like an idiot for not having it done myself to feelings of anxiety whether I would lose all my students, if they thought my new fees were too high. However, I raised my fees and I didn’t lose a single student. One or two were moaning, but everybody seemed to value my services enough to continue their lessons. It certainly was an encouraging experience with regard to my future coaching practice.

  2. Chris Kenber
    Sep 17, 2017

    Many people find it hard to commit to paying coaching fees as they are not paying for something solid they can take away. They are paying to talk and for advice. In my field as a Bristol business coach I try not to overprice my services so that people are not put off.

    • Bill
      Sep 18, 2017

      Hi Chris, thanks for your comment.

      People pay all the time and sometimes very good money for intangibles and services. If what you offer is something special as I’m sure you believe it is, I would suggest that you consider testing higher fees in conjunction with a watertight guarantee linked to results. That will ‘tangibilise the intangible’ for your clients 🙂

  3. Lindy
    Sep 14, 2017

    Hello I’m a newbie here, yet to get my badge but so excited to learn. I totally buy into the fair exchange ethos, thanks Bill. I have just put my hourly rate up in the part time role I have and all of a sudden my perceived value has risen in the company and I’m being asked to attend meetings not previously invited to! I felt more comfortable in this scenario as I have experience. In the early days of life coaching I will need coaching re charging!!

    • Bill
      Sep 14, 2017

      Congratulations Lindy! And thanks for your comments 🙂

  4. Richard
    Sep 13, 2017

    A good article. It’s always difficult to price services such as coaching or consultancy and equally difficult for a client to commit to the cost without knowing whether the service will produce the expected result.

    I have clients on a range of prices (not coaching) for various reasons. It is those that pay the most, that appreciate the service the most and have even recommended that I put the price up! Those that pay the least take my expertise for granted as in their eyes, as it has a low cost, it has a relatively low value.

    If you offer a good service, be bold but fair with your pricing and your clients will appreciate you and your service more.

    That’s easier said than done when you are trying to build up a business and you don’t want to lose a single opportunity. Perhaps Bill would give us an article on selling ourselves in the near future?

    • Bill
      Sep 14, 2017

      Hi Richard – thanks for sharing your experience, which I think mirrors that of many other coaches.

      Thanks too for the suggestion of a ‘selling your services’ post 🙂

  5. frederic Dauboin
    Sep 13, 2017

    Thank you Bill, very effective and informative to me. Is that a fair exchange to say only thank to you and share a brief thoughts to you, compare to your great topic and effort you made to write it?

    • Bill
      Sep 14, 2017

      Thanks Frederic!

  6. Karen
    Sep 13, 2017

    A very worthwhile topic. Thank you, Bill. When I started my coaching practice, I did not feel comfortable charging as much as my coach advised me to, due to my lack of experience. I have increased my rate annually since then. I feel comfortable with that strategy. I am certain that I do add immense value to my clients’ lives and I have realized how many hours of work I devote to each session, before, during and after each one. As a result, my sense of self worth as a coach has grown exponentially. No one could have imposed that on me though. I had to experience it myself and take note of the transformative effect of my coaching on my clients. I can confidently say that my clients and I definitely do experience a fair exchange.

    • Bill
      Sep 13, 2017

      Karen, thank you for the real life confirmation. We appreciate it!

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