1 MIN READING: The Favor Bank

‘What is this Favor Bank?’
‘It was an American writer who first mentioned it. It’s the most powerful bank in the world, and you’ll find it in every sphere of life.’

‘What favors could I do for anyone?’

‘That doesn’t matter in the least. Let me give you an example: I know that one day, you’ll be very influential. I know this because, like you, I too was once ambitious, independent, honest. I no longer have the energy I once had, but I want to help you because I can’t or don’t want to grind to a halt just yet.
I start making deposits in your account – not cash deposits, you understand, but contacts. I introduce you to such and such a person, I arrange certain deals, as long as they’re legal. You know that you owe me something, but I never ask you for anything.’

‘And then one day…’
‘ One day, I’ll ask you for a favor. You do what I ask, I continue to help you, and other people see that you’re a decent, loyal sort of person and so they too make deposits in your account – always in the form of contacts, because this world is made up of contacts and nothing else. They too will one day ask you for a favor, and you will respect and help the people who have helped you. You’ll know everyone you need to know and your influence will keep on growing.’

‘I could refuse to do what you ask me to do.’

‘You could. The Favor Bank is a risky investment, just like any other bank. You refuse to grant the favor I asked you, in the belief that I helped you because you deserved to be helped, because everyone should recognize your talent. Fine, I say thank you very much and ask someone else into whose account I’ve also made various deposits, but from then on, everyone knows, without me having to say a word, that you are not to be trusted.

‘You’ll grow only half as much as you could have grown, and certainly not as much as you would have liked to. At a certain point, your life will begin to decline, you got halfway, but not all the way. Neither frustrated nor fulfilled. You’re neither cold nor hot, you’re lukewarm, and as an evangelist in some holy book says: “Lukewarm things are not pleasing to the palate.”‘


as told to the main character, the writer, in THE ZAHIR


  1. Jesi says:

    I consciously did this without any expectations for the person that I began depositing into their favor bank. I met a work colleague (a peer, I was not above or below them authoritatively) that impressed me and always had pride in their work, unlike a lot of the other people we worked with. Over the next few years, I got them a job or two and always remembered and recommended them because I knew they were worthy of a favor, whether or not they’d return the favor, I am proud to know them and offer their services. I was also doing a favor for the other person whom I was recommending their help to because of the great job they did, it benefits everyone. So, you have to make sure that who you help is sort of worthy of it, someone you recognize as exceptional or else it may blow up in your face. A few months went by and I found myself needing a job this time. I never regretted recommending them, even if maybe my contacts preferred them to me. Either way, I needed a favor from them and sure enough, they followed through without hesitation on many occasions. Now it’s like, ‘If you know of a job, recommend me. If I know of a job, I’ll recommend you.’ It’s like, ‘You scratch my back, I scratch yours.’
    It reminds me a little of the relationship between certain coyotes and beavers. They’re natural enemies. The coyote can easily eat the beaver for a quick meal, but they both know that they get twice the food if they work together. The beaver digs and the coyote fishes the food out of the dig.
    This favor bank idea has worked for me and I’m glad that I know about it. You have to make sure you don’t expect anything because they might not know about the favor bank and don’t hold the favor(s) over the other person’s head.

  2. anu says:

    i dont believe that anybody can do a favour in return…u might be trying hard to press the urge of expecting in return but t always comes to your mind whenever you do anything for anyone

  3. barbara says:

    …and wonderong how much of the book is taken from your own experiences, I’ll leave it to my imagination, but could it be another zahir, I’d like to think it’s just a love for one of my favorite authors:)

  4. barbara says:

    Reading “Zahir” makes me think of my zahir, what an eye opening book. You’re a genious Mr.Coelho, I never ever thought about that in a way you describe it.
    Thank you

  5. Maria says:

    Boa tarde Guerreiro

    Passando pra te dizer q te amo :)

    Gosto mto desse trecho de “O Zahir”, e a vida é uma troca continua, sempre baseada em interesses.
    Qse sempre a apalavra interesse é usada com um sentido negativo, mas ñ vejo dessa forma. Há interesses positivos ou negativos dependendo do angulo q se enxergue.
    Gostei mto de um video q vc fala sobre a solidao, qrido.
    Que a solidí£o vicia.
    Gostei mto, pq além de ouvir sua voz,um charme, ém alguns dia stenho vontade de ser como aquele ermití£o de uma propaganda de internet banda larga -nao lembro qual-, no alto de uma montanha, com meu laptop, sem precisar de ninguém.
    Achei esse comercial bem interessante, lembrei de vc e do ví­deo.
    Essa história do banco de dados é mto importante, já perdi alguns contatos no decorrer da vida. Alguns acho bom q tenham partido, outros ní£o.
    Ní£o dá pra voltar o tempo, mas dá pra pensar melhor hoje e manter as conexíµes q interessam.

    Guerreiro, vc ñ imagina o qto eu fico me segurando pra ñ escrever umas coisas mto adolescentes toda hora pra vc rsrs.
    Entí£o, hj ní£o vou segurar: te amoooo Guerreiro.Sua voz é mto sexy. Vc é um charme. Fica gato demais de preto.
    E morro de catapora miudinha qdo vc escreve pra mim.:)

    Pronto, me esparramei :)

    Deus te ilumine

    Nossa Senhora te proteja sempre


  6. Barira says:

    its easy to return a borrowed money but difficult to return a favor :)

  7. THELMA says:

    http://www.cyprus-mail.com/cyprus/all-eyes-house-top-spot/20110525 I am sure this happens in every country. :-))

    The Dance and BANK OF FAVOURS: POLITICS!!! The catastrophe of everyone’s dreams for having a fair judgement in every aspect.. Everything is the opposite of the Utopian City of Plato, where the Wise should be the RULERS!
    Thelma xxx

  8. El Burro de Caín says:

    Tal vez el mecanismo bancario sea un poco duro para compararlo con algo tan espiritual como la solidaridad. Por lo menos, a mi me cuesta.
    Sin embargo entiendo perfectamente que el mundo es un reflejo de lo que hacemos y damos.

  9. huma arshad says:

    I am operating a big favour bank usually by giving favours to unknown people ,this gives me lot of happiness and satisfaction and in reward God makes things easier for me .My whole life is revolving around this phenomena and practise.

  10. margherita says:

    Caro Paulo,
    alla Banca dei Favori ho depositato tante buone parole, tanta promozione sui tuoi libri, ma tu, forse non lo sai.
    Ed io non vorrei dirtelo perchè non mi pare bello. Purtroppo anch’io ho bisogno di un grande favore da te, ora.
    Te lo chiedo da tanto tempo, ma forse tu non hai mai letto le mie richieste accorate, che preferirei farti personalmente e non qui.
    Ti chiedo PER FAVORE, di contattare la tua casa editrice italiana, perchè ho bisogno della tua liberatoria a pubblicare un mio romanzo.
    Vediamo se funziona veramente, questa Banca dei Favori, oppure se è un poco in disuso.
    Con rispetto e speranza ti saluto.
    Che Dio ti benedica.

  11. Mark says:

    Every breath you take
    Is a favour of a tree

  12. Deborah says:

    This story makes me feel quite sad. Can we not, as human beings, give because our heart tells us to, not purely because we will gain from the transaction, or for the fear that we will be punished in some way if we don’t give? I want our hearts to be touched and for us to be able to give if we can because of love and caring.

  13. es increible como esta sociedad se conecta y como para conseguir algo es tener que dar algo a cambio y como simpre he dicho todo tiene un precio hasta los favores lastima que muchas veces me he encontrado con la frase que dice: “el bien que hagas con el mal se paga” y lo malo es que siempre me pagan asi, creo que ciertas veces yo tengo la culpa por ser de caracter debil , pero no puedo evitarlo me gusta confiar y creer en las personas , ¿y tu que piensas?

  14. Lisa says:

    Connections and trustworthiness are collateral in the bank and one’s reputation, like financial statements, indicate a person’s worth. In other words, just as assets equal liabilities plus owner’s equity, the difference between assets and liabilities indicates net worth.

  15. abha goel says:

    somehow it never works in my case…
    .whenever I do a favours its never returned!!!

    1. elixir43 says:

      ..it will work for you as well when you do a favour without any expectations.
      Many a time we may not recognize the form in which our favour is returned. Its like going for shopping where we give money and in return we get the things, and not the money!!
      Believe in Him and believe in the goodness of the things…Favour Bank will surely Favour You…sooner than later

    2. I think that we are punished for our bad things, and as well we get a favour for good things, but we don’t know hot to appreciate this in the right moment and we think that we are doing things well, but in the fact we are doing things well with a help, not by own.

  16. Gisela Cruz says:

    En la vida todo lo que comparto, lo recibo multiplicado, aun no sea la intención.

  17. Reina says:

    Well, Well what a bank!, I do favours to many people and have done them and never had a thought to ask for anything in return always do the favour just because it feels good to help and also i call it the food for the soul and spirit because the feeling is the best that life can give see the smile in other people faces, for so long i have help and never filed it as a tax redemtion and when i pray to the Lord for help always come true for some source least expected, when i recieve a favour and things are asked in return i know for sure that the favour had somethings behind it. So many times i ask God though when is it that he will give me the brake that i am waiting for? and i have fall so many times and still trying to clim the latter but one thing i knoW for sure i am back once again walking towards that brake that i have been dreaming of, so i can feel in my bones that the time is near so cheer with me to see that long time dream come true and granted by the life bank CHEERS!!, SALUD!!

  18. Evelyn Ferris says:

    I couldn’t quiet grasp the favor bank concept. All I know is that I deslike a lot to do favors and even to hear the other favor in a sentence. I think the word favor manipulates and distord reality for the person that was asked to. Strange…

    1. elixir43 says:

      ..when you heed your inner calling and help people without expecting a return it leads to ‘Favour Bank’ to which every such acts of care and help get credited.
      To return these credit to you is Nature’s job. And nature takes its own time and way to give it back to you.
      Have faith in Nature and your inner calling..Favour Bank really Favours!!!

  19. I always think of of as the Bank of Karma…

  20. Robin fletcher says:

    “Whoever is in that situation will inderstand exactly what this bank is, it is nothing less than what we all should aim, to help each other, when all is in greater need for anything and it is in trouble what is the first thing that comes to their(our) mind GOD, but after when the storm finishes they(we) forget again about those days and in many cases we can become arrogant and so forth, what the text is trying to say is that we need to keep going with humility, honesty and faith, if we keep going on those values this bank will open its doors for you, dont worry they will find you but you need faith and keep going, i take so much in helping anyone and praying for those who are not well instructed in the path of the light that helping those who helped me would be a gift. Cheers”

  21. maha says:

    there is no risky in this bank,because when you do a favour to sb you will get it back in your life,it is your harvest in this life,keep doing favour it will be back to you

  22. Hana says:

    that is such coincidence just today I did favor to my friend, who had to work with horrible sore throat and fewer, when I bought for her some sore throat and flu medicine without waiting for her to ask. It gave me very good feeling that I am doing something good for someone same as everytime I do something for others. I love to do good things for others if I can.

  23. nora says:

    amazing love it :)

  24. Francisco Mata says:

    Sr. Coelho, siempre es un enorme placer leer todo lo que usted comparte con nosotros, su gran sabidurí­a, Dios ha puesto en su papel y pluma, enormes bendiciones; soy su leal seguidor, es mi Maestro de la Vida y lo Divino, en lo personal. Mi duda es, ¿aplicarí­a el Banco de Favores a los empleos?, pues he tenido algunos, y ninguno me ha retribuido de la manera que espero, y eso me ha hecho quedar muy mal con personas a las que he tomado mucho aprecio en poco tiempo, pues siento que las he decepcionado en mi búsqueda. Un enorme saludo, le estrecho mi mano con gratitud y firmeza, y le enví­o un sincero y caluroso abrazo.

  25. Claudio says:

    it’s kind of odd that an american author “mentioned” this first. here in italy the very core of our society in good and bad is based on this bank of favours…

    1. Cristina says:

      I suppose you were talking about the bad habbit of “strange favours” that however is in Italy, at the same way of other countries in this World.
      This kind of favours bring people problems, while the favours of the tale were positive favours, those that allow good energy flow around the world, and lead us to our dreams.

  26. May says:

    It’s very important this issue, I always do it always. Even if I don’t get a thank you from them I know I will need them in the long run. That’s how life works.

  27. Alex Stephen says:

    We must go all the way, and feel that gratification.

  28. christopher hastings says:

    This is the first time I have heard of anyone speak of a favor bank. Oddly enough I offered to do a favor for someone yesterday. Funny how everything connects in life.

    1. Celia Lumsden says:

      The Favor Bank is already giving you a chance of a deposit, very good

  29. Saurabh Kant Goel says:

    Earlier we have a barter system in our society now we have a favors. This is how our society goes.
    Favor Bank is a evil practise in our society. We must be free to help.

    1. Celia Lumsden says:

      We have free will to choose what serves us and what does not

    2. Robin fletcher says:

      The favour bank its not asking for you to give up your freedom as he do give the option to repay or not a favour, it is just giving you a tip about life, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND, the main point is only good people will help good people, evil wants to oppress the light as it hurts them. As you know we are all connected and there are many things that can’t be explained to us, but if you keep in the light and helping anyone who needs a favour as long as it is legal and for a greater good you should always be with JESUS.

    3. Eileen Kennedy says:

      Barter is a fair system, in that it works on the premise of fair exchange. The favor system can lead to emotional blackmail and manipulation, not so fair. Give with the expectation of receiving nothing in return, give from your heart, grace multiplies and the grace bank overflows. Good cause=good effect.Simple. That’s how my life works.

    4. elixir43 says:

      ..yours is a good life indeed.
      Take Care.

  30. Sidd says:

    As said above its a big powerful bank…. for example if a person deposits in my account …and the favour he asks in return is throwing hard on me…then i would deposit in someone else’s account and ask him the favour of clearing my debts !! thus i would get trust of people with not much pain to anyone in the process….thus it would mean a system of give-take in a much interdependent and a supportive society!

    1. godfrey mbanga says:

      In one of our local languages in Zimbabwe- Ndebele highlighting the favour bank “lzandhla ziyagezana” translated to simply mean “hands wash each other”