Money is awesome. I appreciate money and enjoy having money to create what I want when money is needed to create it. As a businessperson your mission, values, and aspirations will depend on money to come into life. This is the way I coach leaders to look at it as well, but many at first have some unhealthy notions about money that hold them back from earning it.
Growing up as a young entrepreneur was my friend Ken H., a business-to-business salesman, was always evangelizing negative opinions about others who had money and the material things money bought them. What Ken didn’t want anyone to know was how hungry he was to be like them. Ken always wanted a Porsche, not because of the car itself and the appreciation for how it was made, but how others would perceive him in it. He walked around convincing people he was holier than “money”, but it was phony. I classify Ken as a “phony holy.” Phony holies attempt to justify their spirituality to offset their shame of being greedy.
After that experience, I encountered many more phony holies who attempted to hide their hunger for money because they hated this part of themselves—greed. They felt shallow and unacceptable in their love of having money to keep up with the rest of the world, so they outwardly behaved like it never mattered chanting, “how much you don’t need money to be happy.” To them, the shame they assigned to money according to their view around it catalyzed the motivation to show others that they weren’t of the same superficial cloth. They attempted to smoke-screen the opinion of themselves that they were superficial if they wanted money so badly to feel secure and competitive.
After more examination in coaching people with these concepts today, it became clear they are afraid of money, even more afraid of their attachment to money. They were afraid of their internal conversations with themselves about money.
I’ve seen leaders in business attempt to do the same. They fail to guard their profits, justify the value of the solutions, and miss out on market leadership. And when their identity is mixed with the money they earn, the pimp factor of having nice things threatens the sustainability of your business in the first place. They seek to have impressive lifestyles instead of fulfilling lives. They don’t see the role profit has to play in creating the future they seek to create. I began to see inspiring changes in their leadership when they took their identity, more specifically their beliefs about money, out of the creative process. When money was demystified this way and decoupled from concepts, all it became was money— a vehicle or resource that is produced when value is created for another person or company.
Earnings (profits) are warranted to oxygenate the desired outcomes they wanted to create—their mission, vision, values, which almost always were made of service to others genuinely rather than as a cloak to hide from the shame of wanting more money. Once this mission and vision is more important than their need for adulation and flaunting status, they found that their business profits were made successfully. Bonding with this work became more filling and meaningful than what a favorable approval of another person could give them. Status could never give them enough or quench the thirst the way loving what they were creating could. This deeper satisfaction gave them new eyes, priority shifts, and values.
Conversely, if you see companies that are committed to meeting their mission and values while not profitable, the enterprise is a church, not a business. Let’s realize that to oxygenate the purpose of the business, it must have the financial performance to sustain itself. A coaching client was earning just above board, barely cracking a profit, not looking at financial statements with the motivation that by not looking it would have a positive valence. He was 100% committed to his mission as a business but wishy-washy about making money at it. I’ll repeat here what I repeated to him over and over again: “nobody cares about profits as much as you do and nobody ever will nor should care as much as you do. And if you don’t care about earning profits, go get a job.”
So if you’re not pigheaded about knowing your numbers, what you’re earning, how much sales your team is generating, and how much operating cash flow you have in the checking account, you’re placing your capacity to learn and create the future you desire at great risk. You need to be money motivated as a secondary choice (action) to support your primary choice (goal/vision/outcome). Because if you think you’re somewhere else financially than you really are, your quality of decisions could be putting you into bankruptcy soon without knowing it. You write checks you can’t afford hoping with faith it’ll all workout, but you don’t have data you can live by. You don’t own a business yet until you get this capability.
Visibility makes you resourceful. Good accounting as scary as it is helps you see where you actually are compared to where you want to be, to carry out your company’s purpose. The problem here with small business isn’t a lack of structure; it’s a lack of noble guiding ideas to rally a team around. Since they don’t care about your profits, they care if the agenda is suitable to a meaningful course in life. Work today is defined as a place where I can self-actualize through the manifestation of a cause that is worthy of obedience.
Remember that earning power is the one asset you can control as a leader over your real estate, stocks, and other things. This is because you have unlimited talent to convert into value creation for your marketplace. You get paid to be creative, and deeply understand your market. Your earnings are commensurate with how essential you are in the eyes of your buyer. What makes you essential? You can measure this by
1) how much leadership and direction you give them
2) how much confidence and trust you provide
3) how much capability you give them to create what they want (your customer).
The man who knows the most about his/her client’s wants, needs, and conditions wins, because these data points are what drive innovation and market value. This is the true essence of entrepreneurship.
So, if you focus on money as a sign of success, you’re missing the point. Money is a vehicle for creating what makes you essential to your market—direction, confidence, and capability. Money oxygenates your capacity to bring desired creations into the world when they depend on money to happen. All of these stem from converting a conversation with your ideal customer into a solution they can’t live without. The more essential you are, the less you have to market and sell to produce business. Instead, the business comes to you. Money is time. Time is space. Space is the place out of which creations come. Creations come from the reflection out of connections through conversations. Listening is leaning into conversations until they change you. And if they change you, then the inspiration you inherit will reveal the creations that your market needs or is going to need, to make you essential and get paid nicely for it. But money isn’t a measure of success. Success is measured by how much you organize your life around what matters most to you and stay involved in it despite shifting circumstances that approach you.