No Way to Get Burned

Motivational speakers have such a multi-layered, multi-faceted job.  We look at ways to more consistently live our best lives and then we share what works with others.  And this job is a bit of a hands-on, experiential, research project that never ends.  I can’t really observe from a distance – I have to jump in and try it on.

The concept I want to share with you now is one that I have been trying on for a long time, and, as far as I’m concerned, it works well.

Here it is:  I would rather assume someone is trustworthy, help her in any way that I can, and find out afterwards that her intention was to use me – than assume she was UNtrustworthy, do nothing for her, and find out later that she was a good person who just needed help.

I told my friend about something I did recently, and he said to me, “Oh you are going to get burned! Do you know how many stories I have heard about people who did this kind of thing? You are asking for trouble.”

Well maybe, but it’s safer than bungee jumping.  Even if I lose some money, some possession, or my time or whatever.  Even if she is running around town calling me a “dupe” – I’m good.  I can go to sleep at night knowing that I did what I felt had the POTENTIAL of helping someone.   As I always do, I come back to the belief that no one can use me or hurt me in anyway, if I say decide they can’t.

I know that there is some fine line that I must draw sometimes, and that line is a bit of a moving target.  But I’m curious.  What about you?  Where is your line?  And do you  think you actually could get burned?

Let’s talk.

from Linda Larsen, your curious motivational speaker

Helping people bring their finest, best & happiest self to life!





Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, CSP has been described by meeting planners and audiences as "hysterically funny," and "riveting." Known for her ability to connect on an authentic and emotional level with audiences, her spontaneous sense of humor, and her engaging and powerful stories, Linda is passionate about sharing ideas to help people live their finest, best, and most productive lives. Her riveting and true story of being kidnapped and held hostage at gunpoint by an escaped convict, and the strategies she used to escape, will give people the tools THEY need to rise above any of life's toughest challenges, to communicate more effectively with THEIR difficult person, and to find creative solutions to THEIR problems. To book motivational speaker, Linda Larsen: 941-927-4700

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  1. Linda, I have a perpetual sign on my forehead that says “Sucker lives here.” I walk around in a state of trusting people and wanting to help others. I want to believe in the best of people. And my faith teaches me to give the shirt off my back, and then give some more – to love even my enemies – and to serve as I have been served. I don’t always do it, and selfishness does come over me – more than I like to admit. But I still strive to live my life and run my business on these principles.

    But at the same time, I don’t like to be taken advantage of, tricked, or used. I meet a lot of people who take what I give – and then take some more – and don’t think about giving back. And I meet a lot who see it as a two-way street. And sometimes I struggle on where my line is. At what point is it okay for me say, “No. This is enough.”

    You have raised a good question – and one that is really applicable to me at this time in my career as a motivational speaker – when the number of people who need me has far surpassed the amount of time and energy I am able to give.

    I will always give expecting nothing in return. That’s my policy. That’s my calling as a professional encourager and motivator. That’s my faith. But you are right, there has to be a line.

    I think the most obvious place where I draw the line is money and time and energy. I don’t mind giving as long as it is not overwhelming my other responsibilities (time). I don’t mind giving as long as the person is not asking me to empty my bank account (money). And I don’t mind giving if I have the energy to give.

    As long as I was never expecting a pay back (which is how I try to roll) – I can never be burned or let down. Even if that person takes what I give them and disrespects me in some way. I can’t use that as an excuse not to give again. I just may not give to them again.

    And there are always those cases where an unhealthy relationship has been created. Where someone has become dependent and needy on me, and I have to end the relationship because what started as giving has turned into 24-hour counseling. At that point I have to really think about the degree to which I can serve that person.

    Sounds strange, but yesterday I wrote a letter to God – one I want to read to myself every day. It had a lot in it that I need Him to help me with every day – hour by hour – minute by minute. I told Him how overwhelming things are (though He already knew) and how there are so many places I want to help, and just so much of me to go around. And one thing I asked was that He show me when it’s okay to walk away from someone or an opportunity – and when He wants me to stay because He needs me there. I asked Him to whisper in my ear – day by day – to guide my path and my steps. And I believe He will. So I’m choosing to let Him draw the line for me.

    Other people who don’t use this method, may have to do the same thing – take it day by day – situation by situation – and just ask their heart whether it’s time to stay or go.

    Great thought provoking post Linda. Knowing me, I read it completely wrong and responded to a question you didn’t even ask. Wouldn’t be the first time!

  2. PS It’s pretty pathetic that my reply was longer than your post. I need to work on my rambling issues.

  3. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, you always had to have your radar up. I walked around protecting myself for years and always sniffing someone out before moving forward. Later in life I recognized that holding that belief held me back, and the only way to truly experience life was to be vulnerable. Vulnerability equals trust. So, I let go of my concerns (don’t get me wrong I didn’t turn it to a gullible fool) and now I jump in with both feet. Sure, I’ve gotten hurt now and again, but those always make for great stories for a motivational speaker! Mostly, I’ve been rewarded with dear, deep friendships, both business and personal, and incredible opportunities as a result.

  4. Linda, your situation brings to mind is issue of boundaries too. I was recently sitting alone in an auditorim preparing for a presentation I was about to give to an audience of about 225 people. An early-bird participant came and found out I was the motivational speaker for that evening’s event and wanted to chat. It was my responsibility to have set the boundary and say no, but I wanted to be nice and didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Well, it wasn’t long before he started to suck the life right out of me with comments on topics that had nothing to do with my motivation that the audience was about to hear. I had had enough, so I assertively said I needed to focus my energy on my presentation. Then, he asked for a hug. Now, I’m a hugger, so it’s not uncommon for people to ask for a hug – but usually after my presentation. I obliged, because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings (do you see a pattern?). Anyway, I got creeped out and eventually told the meeting planner to support me after my speech in case he became an issue. And, after my inspirational message of getting out of your comfort zone, he was right there, waiting for the line of people to end so he could talk to me some more. Thankfully, I was so energized, I was able to honor my boundaries and politely said no when he wanted to take the conversation further. But, what really got me, was later as we were leaving the facility, another guy was walking out with annoying-guy who offered to shake his hand to introduce himself. Creepy guy said ‘Oh no, I have a cold, so it’s safe if we don’t shake hands.’ What? This is the same guy that was hugging me before my presentation? I felt duped. But, I had the flags, I had the gut feeling about this guy, and I should have set my boundary sooner than I eventually did. So, I’m not sure if this situation relates to yours, but reading your post made me think of how I, like you, am a giver and have to really pay attention to red flags with people so that we don’t get duped when we really just want to be genuine and helpful.

  5. Oh Linda, I know exactly how you feel! I am always being told “You’re going to do WHAT for WHO and WHY?!?” I truly feel that everything I am and the amazing life I am leading was created in large part by love, support and help from others – known and unknown. I always always try to say YES, however, being a Recovering People Pleaser (RPP) I do have to take just a quick second to check in with myself first. You give so much of yourself, in person and in your words that just being around you feels like a party:) Thank you for giving so much! xt

    • Right on Tami! True that! Sometimes when we serve a higher purpose, we are blessed in different ways. No, we can’t do it all. And as motivational speakers, we sure want to. We do have to learn when to say no. But even more important, we do have to know when to say yes. Because sometimes a voice whispers in our ear, “Take this opportunity. It was put in your path for a reason you can not see.” In fact, I have a new story coming about that very thing. I just don’t have time to write it yet. But it’s coming. Have a great day folks!

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