The Theresa-Belfort Spectrum

piggy bank relationship with money

Armed with an education in finance and financial market experience I could write an article loaded with important concepts. An argument or concept backed by data, trends, and figures could appeal to a certain reader demographic. A few fancy charts could provoke thought about a tactical financial change. A call to action about estate planning might aid the unprepared.

But none of this is what has fascinated me in my time investigating and managing our most secretive relationship.

Money is our most secretive relationship, because it is one of the relationships that we hold most intimately, and deal with most differently on an individual basis. Families exist where finances are regular dinner table talk, and families where spouses are not sure how the math adds up on the other side of the bed.

This is the unique niche in which I, as a financial advisor, operate. We create conversations that do not exist outside of our office, because if we are going to build your dreams, we to need to discuss the dollars and cents.

We need you to show us the vulnerability that no one else may get to see.

When considering our relationship with money it is important to identify the two ends of the motivational spectrum, so we can begin to quantify where we as individuals might lie.  On the one end of the spectrum we have a Mother Theresa, who donated a life time of charitable work for the greater good and asked nothing in return. Next to the diving-board we have the now infamous Wolf of Wall Street,  Jordan Belfort – someone who generates their entire concept of self worth based on net worth. We lie somewhere between these two extremes at any given time in our life, and it is an important internal conversation for each of us to have. The dangers are that a Mother Theresa risks ostracizing herself from the conversation entirely, and a Jordan Belfort has no time to begin the conversation because they believe time is money.

Our place on the Theresa-Belfort spectrum is emotional and established by our childhood. We are placed somewhere along the spectrum on the day we receive our first piggybank (or don’t). We shift up and down the spectrum based on experiences, education, stage of life, and beliefs about money.

Our relationship with money is a massive factor in our subconscious decision-making process. It is something we should try to analyze consciously. I am not going to claim there is a right or an wrong place to be on the spectrum, because we all have a relationship with money that built on different foundations. What I ask is that we analyze our own relationship with money. I ask us to measure this relationship the same way we look at other relationship in our lives.

Hopefully you can find time to consider your relationship with money. Reflect if money is the only reason you are getting out of bed in the morning or keeping you in bed past the 3rd snooze on the alarm. If you want help to explore your own internal conversation, maybe it is time to consider relationship counselling: call up your financial advisor.

Work, Life, Balance???

Work life balance play in business

How come we make these things different? You have probably heard the quote:

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Marc Anthony

I think there are many ways to read this. One of them is – ‘I am having no fun – therefore I must be in the wrong job or doing the wrong thing.’

A variation on the theme is that work is ‘Work’ and play is ‘Play’ and the two are clear, distinct and separate. In this model, ‘Work’ carries with it a tinge of ‘suffering’. It is really easy to follow this with all of the reasons why you have to stick doing what you are doing – and so the cycle continues. You get to be right about how it sucks and suffer it. Or is it just me who left to his old habits does this :-).

Now, don’t get me wrong (I am a coach after all – change is the game…) it may well be that a change in career or starting the business you really want is the next thing to do and leave this one behind – however bear with me. My thinking is that ‘Job’ being ‘Work’ in which you are ‘Stuck’ in might have something for you.

Two things I have been reading and listening to have come together in a new way for me. The first is from Tara Brach (whose podcasts I thoroughly recommend – where in a recent talk she drew a distinction between ‘aversive judgment’ and ‘wise discernment’.  The other comes from Michael Singer and his bestsellerThe Untethered Soul. In a nutshell – events happen – and they become problems where we resist them – and the resistance is all our stuff. To put it another way – no resistance; no problems. Easily said – right?

Taking these distinctions into the ‘job’ that is ‘work’ – from ‘aversive judgment’ it may there to just be struggled through and survived – that you cannot be with it, or your co-workers, or your customers, or the daily grind, or all four… Your buttons get pushed – your stuff – your resistance. From here there is no space or freedom – it is a trap, a cage that you survive to keep the paychecks rolling in. After that you really need downtime and rest so you can just continue doing it. Is this ‘work life balance?’. Now let me be clear – it is not your fault that the job shows up for you like it does (nor anyone elses’) – it is just that is how it shows up for you. Period.

From a place that you can take responsibility for your stuff, the job becomes a place where you can see your stuff playing out. Things happen – you get triggered. And from there once you see it, you actually get to choose how it goes. Are you going to have your stuff dominate how the experience goes? Or are you going to see it as just your stuff and work with it? This is where resistance comes into focus.

Resisting life is hard work. Life is an infinite stream that keeps flowing no matter what we do. Resisting is trying to hold back a tide that is infinitely and forever coming in. We tend to resist it where our stuff gets triggered (we all have stuff – even the Buddha had stuff…) and we try to somehow manage it to make it better. What if it was just okay that our stuff got triggered? It is just stuff after all – stuff we made up, beliefs about how it ‘should’ go and what is the ‘right’ way for things to work out.

From aversive judgment – we make the job, the boss, the client, the circumstances wrong – we blame and get messy. And we are busy resisting it which takes even more energy. No wonder we suffer the experience!

The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” – Edward Gibbon

From discerning wisdom – we see that we get triggered – and we experience the wind and the waves. From there we have choice. How do we want to be with this experience? We can go down the reactive route or stay elevated where there is choice. From this perspective there is still the possibility this may not be the job of your dreams– where all of you gets to be put at service of your greatest and most heart-felt contribution to the world. Or maybe from elevation it is clear that it IS and you need support to get from your current experience to a more satisfying and empowering one.

So what about work and play? My invitation is to look at where you resist life and create work. If you take away the resistance, all there is left is play, and you get to never work another day in your life… Easily said right? Perhaps time to have a conversation with a Coach (just sayin’).

How about giving up the unwinnable fight for work-life balance and create a life of play instead?

Owning Your Results – Owning Your Success

Someone Else’s Problem

I have had many conversations as Coach that surprised me – one of them was with the CEO of a small company regarding a business issue they were experiencing. When challenged, their flat claim that there was nothing they could do about it. They did not like it when I reflected back to them that it was a really interesting thing for the leader of an organization to state.

None of us are immune from not owning our results.

I think most of us have had the experience of working inside an organization and blaming it for how things go. I know I have. ‘The management did not understand what we were trying to do, did not provide the resources needed to make it happen’ etcetera.

Seen from another angle, I was not creating the results that I wanted or said I was committed to. A natural human response is frustration and anger. In an organization we can allow ourselves to be ‘right’ and victim to the organization by blaming the organization for how things have gone.

They ‘own’ how we have performed is the story.

Now Who’s Responsible?

Transplant yourself into the position of entrepreneur – especially solo entrepreneur. Now what do you do when things do not go the way you want them to? When you do not create the results you are committed to? Where do you put that frustration and anger? Unless you get creative with the outside world so you can blame it, a typical way for things to go is to blame yourself.

Getting caught in this trap saps enthusiasm, energy, joy and drives up whatever strategies we have developed through our lives to feel better about ourselves. Often this shows up as ‘must work harder!’ and before you know it your dream of freedom through having your own enterprise is turning into a nightmare of catching up, not taking breaks or holidays, living from some variation of – ‘this will only work if I work more!’. So much for the freedom of the entrepreneur!

The Ownership Plan

Here is a 5 step plan to keep you out of reaction and in the inspired action that will actually create the results you want:

  1. Get your thoughts and feelings about how things have gone out of your body and your mind! Get a clean sheet of paper and fill it with all the anger, frustration, blame, nastiness that you can muster to get all of the emotion expressed. Just let it flow until there is nothing left. No one is ever going to see this paper except you. Give yourself full permission to vent it all.
  2. Consider that not generating a desired result is just that – not generating a desired result. What were you playing for? What did you generate? What is the gap? Get clear on just the facts. Note: If someone apart from you cannot measure it, it is not a fact.
  3. Take a 5 minute break to just relax, breathe and be.
  4.  Now, considering the result(s) you want to create – what is next? What are the next actions you can take that will move you towards the results that you want?
  5. Take the next action.

And – take a dose of Vitamin S: GET SUPPORT!!!!

Having someone or a group to share your experience with is really important. Someone to help normalize the experience (we have all missed creating what we intended at some point – if not a lot of points!), help you get clear on what is next and help you get ‘outside of your box’. Someone who is going to come to your pity party might be fun for a while, but if all you do is end up agreeing whose fault it is that things have gone as they have gone – you will just stay where you are.

Someone who is willing to reflect how great you are and support you in keeping going no matter what will make all the difference!

And if you really want to accelerate your results – working with a Coach can be magical!

Getting Past ‘Fault’

Not creating the results you want is ‘not your fault’ (or indeed anyones fault; like ‘success’ or ‘failure’, ‘fault’ is just another story…) – it is simply not creating the results you want. Allow your feelings and humanity. Write it out – put on loud music and dance that stuff out of your system – go beat up a pillow – whatever works for you. Refrain from blaming yourself, others, the weather etc… (which puts the cause for your results outside of yourself). Determine what is next and do that and get supported!

This is all part of ownership. What you own you have power over. Your results and the life that you want are, believe me, something you really want to own!

In my next post I will be talking about work and play, and how us creating them as separate things holds us back from having a truly delicious life.