My Top 10 Money Insights as a Coach #2 – Security drives scarcity. Capacity drives service.

Over the past five years of being a coach, I’ve had a number of insights into how I think and talk about money that have made it easier for me to create what I love (money) while doing what I love (coaching).

Recently I began listing them out for my apprentices and this list quickly turned into ten separate articles.

I am sharing them here in case you too love money and want to make more of it. If so, I hope that thinking and talking about money in these ways will help you like they have helped me.

Scarcity is kryptonite to human connection. If you’re worried you haven’t got enough money, you may as well piss all over yourself before you offer someone coaching. They’re just going to want to get away from you.

When facing the problem of scarcity I used to look for a way to ‘feel secure’.

The most obvious path was to make some money so I didn’t feel broke. When I was first starting my coaching business, I continued taking side projects through my web development company to keep the bills paid.

A more subtle path was realizing that I didn’t actually need what I thought I needed – that I could survive and be happy on little to no money at all.

An even more subtle path, popular amongst spirituality enthusiasts, was focusing my mind on the idea that the universe is abundant and all of the things I want and need will come to me if I just have faith.

What I see now is that ALL of these paths share a common thread – they all exist to solve the ‘problem’ of scarcity.

Paradoxically, any ‘solution’ to the problem of scarcity actually sustains it. Seeking security – in any way – actually perpetuates scarcity thinking.

By believing in ‘abundance’, making myself able to survive with less or even just making more money on the side so that I can continue, I am saying ‘YES – scarcity is a problem that needs solving’.

I’m not suggesting these paths don’t work. They have for me. What I am suggesting is that there is another path that doesn’t emerge from scarcity at all. In fact, it’s another way of seeing that makes the problem of scarcity go away completely.

The trick is seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty.

Allow me to be more specific before you discount this for being too simple.

When I’m in scarcity, my focus is on what’s NOT in the glass – the half-empty bit.

“Shit! I’m missing all this! I can’t survive without it!”

When I go make more money doing something ‘on the side’, I’m acting based on what is NOT in the glass.

When I remember that I can survive with less, I’m saying “It’s OK it’s half empty – I don’t need the other half”.

When I believe in abundance, it’s OK my glass is half empty because the universe will fill it for me.

However, when I shift my attention to what’s still in the glass, at first I’m seeing my ‘security’ . The power though is in deciding that what’s still in the glass is not for me, but for others.

When I look at what’s in the glass as being the resources I have to serve other people, I essentially shift my focus from security to capacity. From what I’m not able to have for myself to what I am able to do for others.

For example, there was a time when I had barely enough money to get me through the month. I was freaking out. Once I switched to a capacity perspective, it blew me away that I had almost an entire months’ capacity to serve people. Even if I didn’t make a single penny that month, I had enough money to be free to spend the ENTIRE month – all 30 days – only serving people!

Sure, at the end of the month I’d have no money, but that was only true when I was looking at the empty part of the glass.

Notice what I’m saying here:
– It was only true that at the end of the month I would have no money if my attention was on what was NOT in the glass. –
By shifting my mindset from security to capacity, I went from being gripped by fear to ELATED with how free and able I was to be of service in the world.

Today, when I look at the money I have as a resource that empowers me with the freedom to serve others, I am automatically oriented towards serving people.
And that’s a good orientation to have if I want to make money.

 

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

  • How have I been solving the ‘scarcity’ problem?
  • What resources do I actually have?
  • What capacity does that give me to serve people?

 

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My Top 10 Money Insights as a Coach #1 – It’s OK if They “Can’t Afford It”

I like money.

No, screw that…

I LOVE money!

Oooohhh…that feels so dirty to say. Especially in this world of coaching, where we’re all supposed to care so much about people that money doesn’t matter.

We’re supposed to just show up and serve and somehow money will magically float into our life.

Except that it doesn’t actually work that way. Disliking money, or even just not caring about money, will stop it from reaching your bank account.

You can’t create something you don’t care about.

I love money in the same way I love time. I can spend my time and my money doing so many different things. What makes money even better than time is that I can create more of it. Money is like infinite time!

Over the past five years of being a coach, I’ve had a number of insights into how I think and talk about money that have made it easier for me to create what I love (money) while doing what I love (coaching).

Recently I began listing them out for my apprentices and this list quickly turned into ten separate articles.

I am sharing them here in case you too love money and want to make more of it. If so, I hope that thinking and talking about money in these ways will help you like they have helped me.

When I started my coaching business, I thought I needed to find people with the ‘disposable’ income to afford a coach. As I raised my fees, I looked for people who had more money. This didn’t work very well. The more I looked for people with money, the less I was able to connect with them. Essentially I was being a ‘gold digger’. Having my focus on what they could do for me was (rightly) getting in the way of me serving them.

Now that I have clients who invest large amounts of money to coach with me, I can see that at all levels, for most of them it is a STRETCH to do so. The money they invest in coaching with me is not money they just have lying around. It’s not easy for them to make the investment because in their mind, the money was going to be used for other things – like paying the bills, going on holiday, buying a home or going back to university.

You’ve heard the idea that it ‘serves’ people to have to stretch. It’s true, but this is not my point here.

The insight for me was that I don’t need to look for people who have plenty of money – I only need to look for people who are willing to stretch.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

  • Am I being a ‘gold digger’?
  • How might I be doing a disservice to people by allowing ‘affordability’ be an obstacle?
  • What would I do differently with people if it were OK that they ‘couldn’t afford it’?

 

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The Joy of Reckless Abandon – Sucking at Sports

As a kid, I completely sucked at all ball sports.

In baseball, I batted last and was always put in the outfield.

In basketball, I was the 11th player on the team. I only got put in when we were ahead by about 50 points.

In tennis, I never won a match.

Looking back as an adult, it has often perplexed me as to why I’d stuck with playing balls sports throughout my childhood. I’d dropped them once I got into things like BMX, skateboarding and martial arts, but why had I stuck with it for so many years before?

My parents didn’t ‘make’ me play sports. There was a genuine joy in it for me. But, I’ve often wondered, why did I enjoy it if I sucked so bad?

Recently, in conversation with my colleague and friend Simon Crowe, I accidentally rediscovered my joy for ball sports.

We were speaking about doing our work as coaches playfully. About having a sort of reckless abandon in our acts of creation.

As we spoke, I remembered being on the basketball court and the feeling of throwing the ball from the three point line.

I remembered that in basketball, I loved the feeling of magic and mystery as to what might happen to the ball once it left my hands and completed it’s arc.

In baseball, I had enjoyed the remote possibility of hitting a home-run or making a game saving catch BECAUSE it was so unlikely.

In tennis, I was mostly enamored with hitting the ball as hard as I could. What if it bounced off someone’s head? What if it went over the fence and into the road?

What struck me is that ball sports had filled me a spirit of freedom. I enjoyed the magical experience of uncertainty. When a ball left my hands or my racquet or my bat, I was dancing with destiny and I loved that dance.

I didn’t care so much about what happened, I was just enamored with the fact that SOMETHING was going to happen. The anticipation and the surprise of it was the part that gave me joy.

My joy in ball sports came from the reckless abandon.

After speaking with Simon, I drove straight to the sports store, bought myself a basketball and then walked down to the court in my neighborhood to shoot some hoops.

It felt amazing to reconnect with joy of reckless abandon. The joy of not knowing what was going to happen. The joy of doing something simply BECAUSE I had no idea what the result would be.

The act was about the mystery and magic and I loved it.

After a few days of going down to the court to shoot hoops, I also saw that the more I slowed down and focused on the end result of the ball going through the hoop, that sometimes the ball actually went in!

The trick was when I focused on what.

If I focused on the ball going in anytime AFTER it left my hands, then the joy of reckless abandon would begin leaving my body.

Standing at the line, holding the ball, getting ready to shoot – that was the time to focus.

The moment the ball left my hands, I returned my focus to the magic and the mystery. I returned to the joy of the dance with destiny.

I’ve found that being in reckless abandon at all times results in me being filled with joy, but also not creating any results.

Being focused on end results all the time gets me some of those results, but with little to no joy.

When I’m in the sweet spot – when I’m oscillating between focus on end result and a reckless abandon – I get to be filled with joy and create better and better results.

Where could you bring more reckless abandon into your life?

What would you do if you cared more about being surprised by the result than you did what actual result you would get?

What would your ‘Hail Mary’ shot be?

 

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Everything is Awesome!

When I get overwhelmed, I like to go out into nature and remind myself / be reminded that nothing actually needs to happen.

To remind myself that everything is perfect just as it is.

Lately I’ve been singing the theme song from The Lego Movie, because no matter how cheesy the lyrics may be, they just nail this truth in such a spirited way.

Not only is everything perfect just as it is, but actually…

Everything is awesome!

What is overwhelming you right now?

Does any of it actually NEED to happen? You may very much want it to, even as a necessary condition of other things you want, but does it really ‘need’ to?

When you accept that it doesn’t (because nothing truly does), do you see the perfection in what is?

Do you see how everything is perfect?

And isn’t that literally awesome?

 

How to Go with the Flow – Spirit vs Circumstance

Lately I realised I have two different ways of thinking about ‘going with the flow’.

One way of thinking about it is to go with the flow of things happening around me.

  • Someone calls to hang out, so I go meet up with them.
  • A bird shits on my car, so I wash it off.
  • My wife wants to go for a walk, so I drop work and head outside with her.
  • Someone emails me about coaching, so I email them back inviting them to speak.

This is what I’d call flowing with ‘circumstance’. It is an outside-in approach to flow.

Another way of thinking about is to go with the flow of things happening within me.

  • I suddenly crave the feeling of grass on my feet, so I go out for a walk.
  • I get a vision of working with inspiring leaders, so I reach out to someone inspiring.
  • I’m thinking of a client and wishing I’d said something I didn’t, so I email or call them and say it.

This is what I’d call flowing with ‘spirit’. It is an inside-out approach to flow.

I don’t actually think either of these are better or more noble than the other. In fact, the separation I am creating between them isn’t even real. Everything on the outside and the inside is one giant unfolding.

Although the distinction may be illusory, it is still something I experience. I find that if I flow too much from ‘circumstance’, that I feel disconnected from the world within me and if I flow too much from ‘spirit’, I feel disconnected from the world outside of me.

Swinging like a pendulum from one to the other is how I am creating a sense of balance in going with the flow of both spirit and circumstance.

Do you go with the flow more from spirit or from circumstance?

What might it be like to swing the pendulum and flow from the other?

Where would you apply this first?

How to Be Present – Forever, Right Now

Sometimes a simple idea can shift an entire experience of being. I don’t remember where I heard someone say it, but someone said something to me recently and it was the perfect time for me to hear it. Taking the words and using them has been like a turbo charger for deepening my presence.

The more unattached I am from the past or future (and for me, my distraction is almost always ‘future’), the more fulfilling my experience of everyone is. I’ve been working on deepening my presence in my relating to people, especially my wife.

The words I heard someone say were ‘all the time in the world‘.

Before that moment, I’d always heard those words as a single phrase that meant ‘I’ve got time’. But this time I heard them as meaning literally all the time I have for the rest of my life on this planet.

I asked myself… “What would it be like if I actually committed ALL of the time I have for the rest of my life to being with someone, just listening to them?”
I tried it on while my wife was chopping some vegetables. I chose to have all the time in the world to just watch her. The experience was overwhelming. I saw her in a way I’d never seen her before. I enjoyed watching her in a way I’d never enjoyed it before.

So I’ve been playing with this idea a lot lately. I’ve been CHOOSING to have ‘all the time in the world’ for people. When I make this choice, it’s as if I’m deciding in that moment right then to be with them forever. I’m essentially clearing the slate of anything and everything that was ever supposed to happen in my future. I’m saying…I give up on ALL of that and I choose to be just here right now instead.

Being with you forever, right now, has me see you in ways I was never able to see you before. Before when I was in the future instead of right here with you right now.

And having ‘all the time in the world’ for you is the only way I ever want to see you.

Forever, right now.

What or who would you like to have more presence with?

What might it be like if you chose to have ‘all the time in the world’ for that or them?

What if you actually decided, in a particular moment, to be with that or them forever, right then?

How to Fit in Anywhere

BUT I DON’T FIT IN HERE?

A few weeks back, it came up that some people in one of my coaching groups felt like they didn’t ‘fit in’.

I’ve experienced this myself in groups too. Often because I felt like I was ‘ahead’ of everyone (ego-bs) or because I was ‘behind’ everyone (more ego-bs). At other (more recent) times it was simply because I walked into a NOT-hot yoga class where everyone is in full yoga gear and I’m wearing just some little shorts and no shirt. Oops!

Everyone wants to fit in. It feels GOOD to fit in.

Commonly people thus look for the missing evidence as to how we DO actually fit in.

“Well, everyone here is human and they all have nipples, so who cares that mine are showing and nobody else’s are?”

Or…

“You see…everyone feels like they’re ‘not good enough’ to be in this group, so you’re not alone. You fit in because ALL of us are experiencing ‘imposter syndrome’!”

What I’ve noticed though is that by even LOOKING for this kind of evidence, one actually inadvertently subdues their own individual self-expression.

By looking for ways to fit in when we feel like we don’t, we make ourselves less of who we are.

By trying to fit in, we lie about who we are.

This is why I say: SCREW FITTING IN.

What I am standing for for myself – and what I am asking my clients to do – is to stand for NOT fitting in.

FURTHERMORE….

When I’m in a conversation socially and I feel like I don’t fit into the conversation, I change the conversation topic. When the topic changes, I suddenly feel like I’m fitting in.

But I did not ‘change’ myself to fit in. I changed what was occurring in the world so that what was occurring in the world fit me.

This may sound overly self-centric, but I think it only is if you do so from a place of fear of not fitting in. If instead you connect with the truth of who you are and you express that, then actually you are coming from a place of love and you are being a force of creation in the world.

When coming from that place, you are also sensitive to the people around you and the net result of what is created still fits for them…it just happens to fit you as well.

What if we all stopped NOT being who we are because we were trying to ‘fit in’ everywhere and instead just said ‘screw fitting in’ and just showed up fully as who we are….being and doing and saying what was true for us?

Considering the fact that hiding ourselves builds resentment, my guess is that we’d create a much more loving world.

Who you ARE is the greatest gift you have to give. Stop hiding it by trying to fit in.

Be You.

True Leaders Do NOT Have Followers

It struck me a few months ago that the definition of leadership I have been using made having followers irrelevant.

It’s not that, for me, a true leader shouldn’t or doesn’t have followers, but in my world, the fact that one has ‘followers’ does NOT make them a leader.

See if you can make sense of what I’m saying in this video. Does it ring true for you too or do you think leadership is something different?

 

Skipping Shavasana – Nobody Wants to Die

After having been gone from London for six months, returning has been in some ways unsettling. The moving forest of human trees with black trunks and placid faces, the continual sabotage of curiosity by averted gazes and the absolute unacceptability of physical contact in crowded places stands out for me against the contrast of bright colors, smiling hello’s and soft, pleasant brushes with strangers I’ve been enjoying outside the density of a giant western city.

‘How did this not disconcert me so much before?’ I wonder. ‘Was I caught up in the same way of disconnect?’

This automaticness of living was well illustrated for me in yoga class this morning. At a small lower level studio in central London, having just wound down to the end of a hot vinyasa flow, I was laying on my back in a puddle of my own sweat.

With my eyes closed, beyond my breath and heartbeat, I heard an unusual shuffling of feet and mats. Feeling a breeze rush by my head, I opened an eye and tipped my head to see what was going on.

The room had been full before. Now half of the mats were empty.

I knew what was happening. They were skipping Shavasana; the position of laying flat on your back that we do at the end of every class. The point of it is to simply relax in silence as your breath calms. It is a peaceful way to close out the journey of a yoga practice.

I knew this because when I first started doing yoga at home, I too skipped Shavasana. I used to think, ‘The workout is basically over. I just spent 7 hours in bed. I don’t need to lay around here now too!’

At some point I got that yoga isn’t really about the workout though. That physical benefits are a secondary gain. I stopped skipping Shavasana early on and it is rare when I see anyone else doing it in classes outside the city.

Today though, half the room had emptied before the five minutes of meditation were finished. They missed the incense the teacher walked around the room waving over the remaining bodies. They missed the chance to slow themselves down and set a more relaxed pace for the day.

More than anything though, they missed having to die.

Shavasana means ‘corpse’. A yoga practice typically starts in a ‘child’s pose’ and goes on a journey of extension and growth before winding down and completing in ‘corpse pose’. This is the cycle from youth, through life, to death.

By skipping Shavasana one is essentially avoiding death.

The irony in this being so popular in London (myself previously included) does not escape me.

The automaticness with which we move through an urban life is a pace absent from consideration of our mortality. Looking death in the eye is shockingly incoherent with this. When we do do it, usually without choice, it always slows us down. My point is that we wouldn’t lead such hurried lives if we remembered we are going to die. Avoiding looking at it, and avoiding doing it symbolically, are quite synonymous.

Besides skipping Shavasana as being reflective of our protection from the temporality of life, I also see it as a good example of how we want to go on a journey and get the benefits from it without actually completing it. We want to go deep, but not all the way.

After the Shavasana meditation, I always roll onto my side into a ‘fetal position’ before sitting up and ending the class.

This brief moment in fetal position after resting as a corpse is not only missed by those who leave the room, but it is missed by most yoga teachers too. In my opinion, this is the most important moment of a yoga practice. Fetal position, even briefly, is the moment of rebirth after death.

The full cycle of a journey always includes a death and rebirth of some kind. In fact, without this dying and being reborn, the journey never completes. And a journey that never completes was not a journey. You return to where you began and the entire time is wasted.

For me, as a fairly newbie, this is the practice of yoga – both on the mat and in life. The practice is to die and be reborn.

If more people in big cities were to remember they are going to die, and were willing to die as a practice, then the moving forests might not be so black and placid.

To all the yoga instructors out there, especially those in London and other big cities around the world: Please encourage your students to die and be reborn again!

‘American Sniper’ Shot me in the Heart and Gut

Last night we went to see the new Bradley Cooper film ‘American Sniper’. As we crunched our way across the quiet, icy parking lot towards the cinema I was mildly aware of an ambient discomfort with going to see a film depicting real-life, present day war. By halfway through the opening scene, my wife was in tears and I was feeling an overwhelming sense of ignorance. The chomping sound of my popcorn stood out for me as a pitiful marker of disassociation from reality. I questioned my decision to be ‘entertained’ by a dramatisation of still unfolding, real world tragedy.

This new form of entertainment – action movie depictions of current, violent political events – is not something I enjoy. There is no ‘joy’ in watching people suffer and die. And yet, I am drawn to these films.

It is as if my curiosity for ‘what’s happening out there’ can be indulged, while keeping the rest of me at a safe distance. I get to quench my thirst for engagement in the world without risking anything, save maybe $20 and a night out.

In some sense, my interest in the recent youth rebellion/dystopian films (Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, etc) comes from the same place. A desire to feel part of the revolution without having to actually DO anything (except chomp popcorn). With these kinds of films, my inaction is not so confronting though. They are fiction and so easy to write off as ‘entertainment’.

With films like American Sniper and Zero Dark Thirty, this is not as easy to do.

My lack of strength and vulnerability around this does not escape me. In fact, it actually leaves me feeling a bit hollow inside. But there it is.

As we sat watching the film, I knew that for my British born wife, the extreme American nationalism behind each bullet that exploded from Cooper’s character Chris Kyle’s rifle, was even more unsettling for her than it was for me. As the ‘kill count’ tallied like in a video game, I watched with embarrassing disdain the screenwriters meek attempt to balance this with Kyle’s supposed focus on ‘lives saved’. They could have just as easily left it out and not shifted the perspective of the film.

What blew my mind is how strongly the film depicted the ‘enemy’ as evil and the US military as ‘good’. It was a modern day Cowboys and Indians (in fact, Chris Kyle WAS literally a cowboy before he became Navy Seal). In the closing scene of the film, you see Kyle leave home with a man holding a sombre look on his face. The screen fades to black and in one line reads the text ‘Chris Kyle was killed by a veteran he was trying to help.’

From there, through the closing credits, you watch footage from the actual Chris Kyle’s military funeral procession through Texas. Thousands of patriots line the streets with flags and signs praising ‘The Legend’ and his 160 confirmed kills, the most in US military history.

Not for a moment does the film visit the irony that The Legend was himself taken by a bullet.

Not for a moment does the film visit the irony that The Legend was killed by a U.S. solider.

Not for a moment does the film visit the irony that despite spending years overseas taking the lives of men, women and children, The Legend was taken from his own wife and children in his home state.

Instead, the final image is of the actual Chris Kyle stood like Rambo, draped in two sachets of bullets, and smiling with pride.

Do I doubt that Chris Kyle’s sharp-shooting was instrumental in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of US soldiers? Not at all.
Do I doubt that Chris Kyle’s kills directly thwarted terrorist attacks by the people he destroyed? Not at all.
Do I have the balls to even face these questions on the ground in a war zone as opposed to pontification? Absolutely not.
Does this make my consideration relatively irrelevant? I’m not so sure.
In most obvious light, my choice to visit the true tragedies of the world through dissociative ‘entertainment’ may represent a lack of courage and an absence of impact. My fear of personal loss is certainly a contributing factor.
In less obvious light though, I wonder if my choice to stand on the sideline and watch armed with opinions instead of being on the field carrying explosives is a statement in itself.
In 1999 I withdrew my place in the USAF ROTC program at the last minute. I couldn’t stomach the idea that one day I may have had to kill people over what was essentially a misunderstanding. I couldn’t justify murder, even under the powerful spell of nationalism.
I do not believe going to see films like American Sniper means that I ‘support’ their ideology. These films emotionally engage me in the current and active story of the world. Maybe this engagement is what I need to stop standing there armed with opinions and to start speaking them.
Speaking is not something I, or anyone, did after the film. The theatre emptied in the same awkward silence that I remember during the closing credits of Zero Dark Thirty.
The crunch of the ice in the parking lot was even louder on the way back to the car. The discomfort was no longer ambient. It was in my hands and on the steering wheel now. I just watched it though, knowing this is what Kyle must have felt while holding the trigger of his rifle. And for a moment at least, despite wishing his killing legacy had not such an echo of unquestioned justification, I loved Chris Kyle for being human.
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