Finding Patterns

See what’s really going on

There are moments when I stay up late and wonder why people do what they do. Sometimes the results are negative (for me), and sometimes they seem positive until more time goes on.

People seem to do me favours to earn the “IOU” that I’ll feel obliged to repay out of reciprocity. That’s generally how it works. Most of the time, nobody walks up to you asking to do something for you unless there’s something in it for them (even if not right away). I think one of the biggest gaps between genuine favours and these tricks is whether or not someone asked for them in the first place.

When was the last time you asked for a favour, knowing that person would get an IOU, but they didn’t come through? It doesn’t happen in my case as much anymore, mostly because I don’t want to have to owe anyone anything. But that’s the thing. People must have figured this out by now. So why is it that some groups go up together, while others tear each other down?

The general pattern behind the favours is the difference. Someone who goes out of their way to do something for you isn’t really doing it for you. They’re doing it for the future versions of themselves that benefit from how you’ll return the favour.


One of my coaching clients once sent me a text that makes this point clear. I asked them if they did the homework for the week. Every week there’s something to do to move the client further to their goals. Things that only they an do for themselves.

When I followed up to see if they did it, they didn’t answer. Instead, they asked me