Money! Money! Money!
I’m looking at our current expenses and the work we have on the books for the next few months and, frankly, when I do the math, it just doesn’t add up.
I can feel my heart beating faster, and I have some anxiety about writing about money. The truth is, I’m no expert. Who am I to be writing an article in a business section about money? Yet, here I go writing about it anyway. Why? Because most of us aren’t experts and yet we have to deal with money!
I know people who have money, lots of it, and still have a painful, fear-based relationship with money. I know people who have nothing, and I mean nothing, yet are quite happy and comfortable with their relationship to money. Personally, I have been broke, in debt, and, at times, quite fortunate in my own journey with money. However, I would not say that money and I have a comfortable, open, and honest relationship.
When the money is flowing, we chat and get along fine, but I admit that when things are tight, I avoid looking at or having any in-depth interactions with my money relationship.
Get Right with Money
This past weekend, when I was out in San Diego at the Martha Beck Coaches’ Summit and found myself with choices of breakout sessions to attend, I was surprised when I walked myself into Get Right with Money, with Nona Jordan, a Martha Beck Master Coach and business coach.
I confess that, for the first half-hour or more, I felt like I was listening to someone speak Russian in a room where everyone but me seemed to be getting it. Finally, someone asked Nona to share her own journey with money. I woke up then, and as she shared her highs and lows, something she said clicked: Money is just another opportunity to take a spiritual journey.
Once I heard that, I began to understand more of what was going on and I learned a few very valuable lessons that are worth passing on.
The Money River
First, money is just energy and, like all energy, it’s at its best when it flows, meaning flows in and out. Money isn’t something to lock away and hoard. Having never had huge amounts in savings, this concept sounded great to me!
However, money flows much like a river and a river has banks (pun intended). The banks of the metaphorical river of money are comprised of two equally important elements: internal money mastery and external money mastery.
The internal bank is all about my feelings about money, my inner stories and beliefs about money.
The external bank is made up of my tangible actions or non-actions related to how I handle money as it flows in and out of my life.
The Internal Bank
The bank that is my internal relationship to money is formed by the stories and beliefs I’ve created about dollars and cents, stock and bonds, wealth and greed. Often, these come from early lessons about having and not having, spending and saving (Nona refers to these as “Legacy Beliefs”). Some of those lessons around the dynamics of money come directly from the important people in our past and some are picked up through the culture we live in. It’s a rich field to explore and shift and shape, and that’s where I’ve personally focused most of my time in trying to get right with money.
However, what I got from listening to Nona is that it takes a balanced approach. Working on my internal bank without reshaping the external bank of my money river only results in more leaks or floods on one side of the river.
The External Bank
The external bank is all about congruent and consistent action: looking at the books, creating budgets, building revenue, and managing expenses. Now, for some of you, this is your forte. For me, this has not been my strong suit. If this is also not your strong suit, no worries.
Here are some practical tips for taking congruent and consistent action around money, for shoring up this side of the bank of the money river. I have to admit, I am not good at these myself.
1. Create a stronger relationship with your money by educating yourself about money in a way that works for you.
Find someone who writes about money that you like and learn from and follow their blog. (I could recommend Nona’s blog: www.nonajordan.com or one she mentioned, Mr Money Mustache: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/
Pick up some practical books about money
2. Find some money systems that work for you, that don’t feel oppressive or overwhelming.
Make a monthly date to balance the books, to talk to the accountant.
Look at what your expenses are and decide if they are necessary.
Find ways to increase your revenue in ways that feel good to you.
Check out: YNAB: www.youneedabudget.com
Whether I’m running a small business or a large organization, these same principals apply. Every business needs to create a path for the river of money to flow. That means building the banks to hold that flow.
At work, it’s sometimes easier for me to pay attention to that external bank. Maybe because of the pressures of payroll and bookkeeping. I make regular appointments with our accountant and financial planner. This is where the external bank may be stronger than the internal bank, but both need to be shored up for the money river to flow well.
If I have a partner or a team that’s responsible for managing the flow of the money, we need to make sure we also pay attention to the internal bank: our individual and collective beliefs and stories about how money flows. These discussions are best done up front, with the intention of being open and frank about variables such as each others’ desires, hopes, fears, and beliefs about how to handle the river when it’s running low and when it’s running high. This can be where there are key differences.
I know in our business, thrive! inc., each of us brings a very different set of assumptions about how much cash to save, how much risk to take, when to tighten the budget, and when to let the river flow, even if we take on debt. These differences need to be addressed and talked about.
It was interesting for me to think about the difference between my relationship to money at work and at home. The river metaphor really works for me. I discovered some important things I can quickly and easily do to stop some of the leaks by addressing the banks of my rivers, personally and professionally.
I’m still nervous about how the numbers are going to add up and I know there are some practical steps I can take. Let’s just say that money and I are scheduled to have a few healthy, open, honest chats.
The final piece of that Get Right with Money session was to write a letter that I’ll get back in three months, a Dear Money letter about what I’ll commit to. I plan on being more accountable and kind to my money, both internally and externally. You can be, too!
P.S. Thanks, Nona Jordan!
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke
Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict
CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.
They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.
Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.