In my opinion, I am great at making offers. Actually, sometimes I don’t know when to stop making offers and then I wonder why I am busy. I am not so great at accepting offers. I think I am a product of my upbringing in that regard.
I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other, and everyone helped each other. It was very rare that I saw my parents say no to helping someone. If they did, it would be because they were physically unable to help. They willingly helped others, and they never expected anything in return for their efforts. Helping people was part of being a contributor to society.
My parents typically only ever asked for help when they felt that they had to. Without fail, such help was repaid with immense gratitude, usually in the form of a meal. My parents did not ask anyone to do anything without doing something in return. That would be “using” people or taking them for granted, which was simply not acceptable.
Although helping others was a big part of our life, accepting offers from others was not. It seemed to be essential to give more to the world than we took. Accepting offers was taking.
And so, with this learning, I find myself well into my forties and starting a new business. I have colleagues and friends who started their businesses from scratch. I have colleagues and friends who work as coaches or facilitators. And, I have colleagues and friends who have developed their own programs (online and otherwise). For at least the past 6 months, many of these people have made offers to me, and I have mostly said no. I didn’t want to use them; didn’t want to take their knowledge and ideas when I was still working out what knowledge and ideas I had of my own. I didn’t want to take especially when, in my mind, I had nothing to give back.
A couple of weeks ago, I was catching up with some friends who were making offers to me regarding my business. Their offers were general – “If we can help you in any way, please say so”. Their offers were also very genuine. These friends had made offers before, and I had rarely accepted their offers. I don’t want to use them.
This time, however, it felt different. When I heard my friends making their offers, it really felt as though they were saying “For the love of all things great, Deanne, will you just accept some help for once in your life”. They didn’t actually say that, I interpreted what they said in that way. Perhaps they didn’t mean it that way at all. Perhaps it was my overwhelm at the time that had me interpreting them in that way. Whatever the reason, I was perturbed enough by the way in which I felt their offers were presented to me that I started to reflect on why I hadn’t been accepting their offers.
My past learning came flooding back to me. I have nothing to offer in return. I don’t want to take advantage of them. They have already given so much of their time to me. I don’t want to use them.
It suddenly occurred to me that there were things that were going to take time for me to work out, and these people already had some answers of their own. Their offers appeared genuine and, as the people making the offers, it was really up to them to place boundaries around those offers. In the moment, I gratefully accepted their offers and asked whether I could get back to them. This time, however, I meant it. I thought of the smallest, most useful requests that I could make of these people. Then, I made some requests relating to their offers.
My requests, which were accepted, were mostly for conversations. From those conversations came offers of further conversations. I started to feel inspired and curious.
I also felt less alone and less wary of accepting offers.
The thing with an offer is that we don’t ask someone to offer something to us. If we did, it would be a request and not an offer. With an offer, the person making the offer is making a conscious decision to offer, and the people who were making offers to me were making conscious decisions to make offers to me. In my opinion, this is something to be immensely grateful for. This was no longer about whether I could do things on my own. It wasn’t about whether I was reducing my contribution to the world by taking. It was about allowing someone else to meet their own needs around giving. It was about being in gratitude that someone chose to give to me.
Now when I think of the offers that triggered this reflection, I feel humble, grateful and at peace. And, as further offers arise, I allow myself to be grateful. If I can use the offer, I accept. If I can’t use the offer, I say so, or perhaps make a genuine request to consider it at a future time. Either way, I do it from gratitude, because the person making the offer chose to make that offer to me.
What offers are you not accepting? How is this serving you?
As a leadership and life coach, these points are all points that I am able to help people to explore. If you feel that it would be useful to HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH ME, please feel free to visit my contacts page or view my services on the Leading and Being website.