One of my mentors once told me, “Don’t make money the primary focus. Instead focus on how you can help others succeed. If you do that, the money will come.”

On the surface that advice seems simple enough, right?

All you have to do is smile, be a nice person and help others out.

But if we’re honest, at least if I’m honest, it’s hard to do.

I consider myself a generous person. I really do enjoy helping others.

But I also know myself. I know how much time I spend thinking about how to improve my life, my business and my circumstances.

I also know how little time I spend thinking about how to help others without expecting anything in return.

Sometimes I think, “After I have $5 million in the bank I’ll be free to help others without expecting anything in return but for now I need to focus on making money.”

But I fear I’m simply rationalizing my selfishness.

Plus, what if the path to $5 million in the bank is paved by the same selfless attitude I’m delaying until I can “afford” to be generous.

“Well, you can’t work for free Josh.”

Yes, I know.

I have a wife and three kids (all under the age of six). So I know I can’t “donate” my services to people all day. You probably can’t either.

So my thought for today is this: how do we charge what we’re “worth” while still cultivating a generous attitude?

How do we provide for our families and still help others in need?

Here are some ideas:

1) Go the extra mile: Even if someone is paying you money to do work for them you can still go the extra mile. You can stop watching the clock and stop worrying about your “hourly rate” and instead shift your focus to adding as much value as you can to your client or partner. Being “generous” isn’t just about giving things away for free. It’s also about giving 100% when someone pays you to.

2) Mentor/Coach others: I’m grateful for the mentors and coaches I’ve had, and have, in my life. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. When I think about that it makes me want to coach and mentor others more. Right now I’m coaching my sister-in-law about how to break into freelance writing and I’ve really enjoyed it. I don’t always feel like I’m very good at it but I hope I’m helping.

3) Serve in your gifting: I used to serve in a lot of different roles before. I would volunteer to open up and make coffee at AA meetings. I would help with the Youth Group at church. I would volunteer to speak at the prison. If there was a need I was there!

But not these days. Now that I have a wife, kids and a business to run I am very selective about where I serve and spend my time. Now, I try to only serve in areas where I feel gifted. This allows me to not “burn out.”

For example, I don’t do a lot of things at church anymore because I feel like my “ministry” is more focused outside the four walls of the church.

So what about you? Where is your “ministry?” It doesn’t have to look a certain way or conform to any one model. Just do something that you enjoy that also helps others. It’s really that simple. Don’t complicate it.