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My generosity ruined a lot of friendships…

From Paul Cowell, Innkeeper at Whitestone Inn.

I spent the summer of 1993 ruining friendships. The destruction wasn’t intentional; it was just thoughtless.

Most of those relationships were recovered, but not all. I started researching and writing this book almost immediately when I realized that I had acted very foolishly. The anger and criticism I had generated could have been easily avoided.

Here’s the story. Shop At Home, Inc., the second oldest home shopping television network, had made an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1986. I purchased 51 percent of the stock in 1988 and sold two-thirds of that stock plus options in April 1993.

Since Shop At Home, Inc. was a public company, newspapers and local media reported the sale, including the total amount I received for my stock. I did not have unlimited wealth, but I did have more money than I had expected to make in my entire lifetime.

The new owners of Shop At Home fired some of the people who had helped build the company. 
Consequently some of these former employees came and asked me for financial help to make a transition. Friends and acquaintances also came with sad stories of financial constraints (“I’m broke and need help!”).

I listened empathetically to an assortment of needs. I believed that I was—in the words of the Bible— “blessed to be a blessing,” and knew that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” In the euphoria of my greatly improved financial circumstances, I joyfully gave money to a number of people in unfortunate situations.

Nobody bit the hand that was feeding them, but they did bite my hand when I quit feeding them! When I stopped helping with monthly rent, I encountered anger and criticism. Later, when those I helped for a few months told the story, they revised history to the point that I was the one who evicted them, when actually I was the only one who helped!

I was accused of being greedy, and my motives were questioned. Some whom I did not help resented the fact that I gave to others, but did not help them.

It became obvious to me that choosing to rescue some people put a dynamic in motion that destroyed relationships. Some of my efforts did not help. 

By giving without understanding, I enabled some to continue behavior that was self-destructive. Instead of lifting victims out of difficult circumstances, I damaged their sagging self-esteem and left them worse off and further depressed. I experienced the truth that “hurting people hurt others.”

Of course, not every rescue ended badly. Some produced excellent results and changed lives. We know that ultimately, every good deed does get rewarded, even if that reward is not observable.

Finally, after more than 20 years of experience 
(starting with the story above) I’ve written a book to guide you on how to enthusiastically help others without ruining the relationship. 

Parents will understand why the child to whom they have given the most assistance will usually be the child with whom they struggle to maintain a positive relationship.

Leaders will understand the difficulties that vertical relationships inherently carry. If you lead, you will experience resentment from others. However, you can minimize the antagonism by following my suggestions.

Pastors will discover why parishioners who require the most attention and resources too often become critical and leave the church. They will learn principles to protect them from anger and resentment from those they shepherd.

And, anyone who seeks to do good works. If you have tried to help someone who was needy and the result was a broken relationship, the book will reveal why some interventions are risky. You will learn who to help, who you should not help, and who you should help regardless of the risk.

Here’s what Dave Ramsey had to say about the book… 

“It’s natural—even biblical—to want to help someone in need. But we need a solid game plan so the rescue doesn’t do more harm than good. Paul Cowell has the experience and insight to help you minister to others without fostering a toxic spirit of entitlement.”

My book “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished or Unrewarded” is newly released so I’ve put together a great deal if you order the book now. You will receive free shipping with your order. In addition, you can bring the book with you on your next trip to Whitestone and receive that amount off your bill.

Order No Good Deed Goes Unpunished or Unrewarded” right here.


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p.s. Read the full introduction to the book by clicking here.