Tag Archives: children

The upside of cost

(as seen on Roman Brauns Trinergy-NLP-Blog on October 22, 2009)

Yesterday, I met with an illustrator about some ideas for a logo. I was feeling inspired and a little creative, so it seemed natural that I ended up buying art. It went down like this.

I had just left his office and no sooner had I turned the first corner onto a side street that I heard the rhythm and the calls:

Boom, boom, boom. “Pictures for sale!” Boom, boom, boom. “Ten cents a piece!” Boom, boom, boom. “Pictures for sale!” Boom, boom, boom. “Ten cents a piece!” Boom, boom, boom…

Picture of a houseThen I saw them: a painted-faced, munchkin-bunch of 4 and 5 yr. olds in front of a city kindergarten. Someone had seen fit to let them out onto the sidewalk wearing impromptu costumes resembling Native American dress. They had feathers and a red-headed chief, whose name I later learned was Lucy.

She expertly calmed the natives as I surveyed the concrete vernissage. Lucy:Stop drumming! We have a customer!” After thinking it over carefully, I picked two works of art with the point of a finger (for 20 cents I thought I could afford to indulge). Lucy:I said stop drumming!” She lifted the rocks which were weighing down the pictures, handed them to me and held out her hand.

Picture of a jetI gave her one Euro (which didn’t impress her one way or the other) and walked away smiling as the drumming and the chanting began again. And as I looked back I was thinking: “That Lucy is a mini- entrepreneur.” And I wondered: “Did someone already teach her about the upside of cost?

Which made me think of Chris Anderson: In his book “Free – The Future of a Radical Price”, Anderson explains the why’s, the how’s and the advantages of the new free economy, in which we enjoy an abundance of things at no cost – like free software, masses of information (e.g. blog articles) and unlimited e-mail storage.

But Anderson is also careful to depict the downside of Free, which he dubs “the cost of zero cost”. He cites the findings of behavioral economists who set out to discover what happens psychologically when we get something for nothing. In one example, researchers set up a booth on a college campus and sold chocolate to students:

“They priced the Lindt truffles at 15 cents and the (Hershey) Kisses at 1 cent. The customers behaved pretty rationally, calculating that the difference in the quality of the two chocolates more than made up for their difference in price: 73 percent chose the truffle and 27 percent chose the Kiss.

Then Ariely (the research initiator) introduced Free into the equation, lowering the price of both chocolates by 1 cent. Now the Lindt truffle was 14 cents and the Kiss was free. Suddenly the Kiss became a hit. 69 percent chose it over the truffle. Nothing about the price/quality calculation had changed – the two chocolates were still priced 14 cents apart.”

FreeThese test subjects literally reversed their behavior due to the Free factor. Anderson provides further arguments that Free is in fact a powerful trigger for the human psyche; that we are subconsciously driven to and by Free. He goes on to talk about the excessive consumption of free snacks at a scientific conference, where he was amazed to see the well-educated participants leaving half-eaten bags of “gratis goodies” everywhere:

No cost, no commitment. People often don’t care as much about things they don’t pay for, and as a result they don’t think as much about how they consume them. Free can encourage gluttony, hoarding, thoughtless consumption, waste, guilt and greed. We take stuff because it’s there, not necessarily because we want it.”


In my own self-development process and in my work as a coach, I have experienced this…

The price of change and personal development can be very minimal – like when we recognize an obstructive belief about ourselves and decide to exchange it for a constructive one. This can happen in a matter of seconds and no hard work follows. We just feel better and are somehow transformed.

Other times, the cost is higher and there is more at stake. And we may find ourselves needing to exhibit tenacity over a long period of time in order to reach a personal objective.

If you are in the process of consciously evolving and find yourself paying a price – however large or small – remember the upside of cost as you go your course:

  • Where there is cost, there is decision.
    This usually means you are driving instead of being driven (e.g. by Free). Good thing!
  • Where there is cost, there is commitment.
    And commitment leads to a far greater probability of success.
  • Where there is cost, we see value.
    In the end, you are likely to find yourself caring more about the changes you paid for than the ones that came for free.

Lucy could have given those pictures away. But somehow she knew about the upside of cost and the downside of free – without reading Anderson.

How competent!

Boom, boom, boom. “Pictures for sale!” Boom, boom, boom. “Ten cents a piece!” Boom, boom, boom. “Pictures for sale!” Boom, boom, boom. “Ten cents a piece!” Boom, boom, boom…

Until we meet again,




rainy beachMy recent two week holiday in Mallorca was literally a nightmare: the rental house was filthy, the bedding had been used, the toilet was broken and my favorite beach had completely been washed away by thunderstorms.

To top it off, it rained ten of the thirteen days (six hours a day!) and my friends became sick with fever, allergies, skin rashes, cold and stomach flu.

++ At this point, I devotedly want to thank God for not having been robbed or abducted. ++

The advantage of a rainy holiday is that you have plenty of time to observe things and reflect on them, which I eagerly did the full two weeks. Thanks to the beautiful bouquet of mishaps, this holiday was full of opportunities for personal advancement. Today, I want to report about my findings on education.

Besides myself and my five year old son, I had several more test subjects: moms at the beach, moms in restaurants and moms in supermarkets. Mallorca is full of people educating their children…

Six things I realized about mothers on that trip:

1)      Mothers are worrying.
Things/weather/food/… might be too warm/cold/rough/… for the baby.
Certain people/circumstances/… could cause stress/danger/confusion/… for the baby.

2)      Mothers are trying to find reasons for everything.
Why does/doesn´t the baby cry/sleep/move/…?
Who/what could be accountable for the situation?

3)      Mothers are speculating about their baby´s true purpose in life.
She/he is so keen/eager/intelligent… she/he might be a [xy] one day.

4)      Mothers are calming themselves down if their children do so called “wrong things”.
It will be over soon / It certainly is only a phase of her/his life / …

5)      Mothers are justifying their children´s behavior if somebody criticizes them.
The reason why she/he does this is the experience of / mind set about / … – therefore it is a natural reaction

6)      Mothers are busy pushing their children into new experiences to encourage them.
Snorkeling / swimming to a buoy / wading through a current / swimming without swimmies / jumping into the water / …

Jona thinking about jumping

After reflecting over my six holy, key findings I came to the conclusion that all parents I know, including my own parents, did and still do behave like that.

The topics we worry about and question may vary – the worrying and questioning stay the same. The types of speculation about the child´s purpose might change – the hopes and expectations stay the same.

The calming down and justifying might fade out and come back during certain phases. But I bet, most parents are familiar with this thinking and behavior, as well as with the fear that your child might lack an important trait, like bravery or compassion.

Obviously, all these characteristics of education are a fundamental part of people trying to be good parents and giving their children “the best they can get for their lives”. The intention probably is to assure perfect conditions and to enable a suitable preparation for every day´s requirements. Good parents simply want to make sure that their children get strong enough so they can easily jump over every hurdle in life!


… you don’t need so called perfect or normal conditions for living the highest vision of your life?

Like Jason McElway who did six three-pointers in a row (“He was hot as a pistol”):


… there were people who upheld your vision – or would have an even higher vision of you, if you wanted them to? Without any compliance requirements or expectations?

Like for example Ben Underwood´s mother does:


… those people stuck to their belief in you – no matter what happened and no matter what you did?

… there was no-one who wanted to press you into their “perfect” idea of you?

I believe that children would then finally have the great chance to enter a new dimension of developing themselves. And I believe that this would empower them to create a new way of existence, full of trust and fulfillment on this planet.

I think it´s time to use a key for creating a new way of caring for each other: it is replacing education with EMPOWERMENT.

Later, when I pick up my little 5 yr. old son from kindergarten, I will not worry whether his conditions for today were perfect. And I will not try to find a reason or excuse for him maybe not being in a perfect mood.

Concerning his true purpose in life, I might ask him about his personal wishes. And then, trustingly, I will stick to his wishes in an even higher vision. Up to the point where he changes it. And then I will stick to this new vision. Again and again. And trustingly enjoy that it is his decision, if or when he might take his next jump in life.

Jona in the water



[I dedicate this blog post to all children in the world. And the great opportunity they are for us to create a higher vision of humanity.]