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Trust – Difference between Your Purpose and Chasing False Gold

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

One of the questions that I have been grappling with is if a person keeps on banging his head against a wall and making no progress towards his goals, how does he know this is part of his purpose in life (the path he should follow) or a sign that he should give up and try something else?

There is no easy answer to this that can be answered in a short blog. Yet, part of it is having a knowing of our purpose in life. What we are born to do. For many, we may think we know our purpose yet do we really? What I mean by this, I see numerous examples of people going out to start their own business as their purposes. For many, this may be their true purpose in life, the work that makes their heart sing. However, for others, they may be driven by wanting to get out of the corporate world or to put food on the table.

Thus, when I heard last week on America’s Got Talent that Terry Fator, the ventriloquist, almost gave up his act because he had only one person come to his show years ago, I wondered how do you tell which person should carry on their dream (which may get Terry the $1 million prize) and another person to go try something else?

I guess the simple answer is if you are doing what you love to do (your purpose), you would do it even if you had 1 person in the audience. Terry’s passion was to bring ventriloquism back to mainstream. And, as I saw the other night, that passion is probably going to make him a millionaire. Note, his goal was not to become rich, rather do what he loved. When he was asked why he should win the $1 million, he gave a totally different answer than the other two contestants before him (who said something to the effect that it was their dream to win). He said that there were 4 great contestants and only vote for him if you (the voters) thought he deserved to win. His goal was not to get rich and famous (at least from what I have heard from him so far), it was to live his passion. This does not mean that the other contestants do not deserve to win. It means that when you seem to be butting your head against the wall, you really need to see if what you are doing is really your passion because if it is, you should trust that you will break through.

Thus, in determining if you should trust your current path if things are not working out the way you would have hoped, think about:

1) What is your passion in what you are doing?

2) Are you driven by what you are giving to the world or what you will receive back?

3) Would things be different if you had $1 million or $100?

4) Are you driven by what you want to avoid? For example, working for a greedy corporation or to change the misery that people are suffering.

5) Are you expecting a certain outcome?

If we look at Terry, he was doing his passion not for changing the world or for achieving a certain outcome rather because it was what makes his heart sing. In giving his talent when he performed for 1 person, he showed that $100 or $1 million is not the issue for him because he is giving to the world rather than receiving.

As strange as it may sound, trust/passion does not include performing an action to change the world. When I got involved in personal growth, I wanted to make a difference in people’s life. In particular, I did a lot of work with children and teens because I wanted to make a difference in their lives. However, even though I seemed passionate about the work, nothing really worked out. I did have an effect on many; however, the next door never seemed to open for me. I ultimately turned my focus on my brand of personal financial with an emphasis on personal growth and doors have started to open. What was the difference? When I was driven to help, I did not step back to see which doors would open (I just tried to push them open). When I took a breath and a step back, the doors just seemed to open on their own. Wanting to help others and change the world is an admirable goal. However, if we are pushing to open doors instead of seeing where they open, we are driven versus trusting the process.

Trusting includes knowing that the world will be saved with or without us. It does not mean that we do not help, yet we join with others to see where we are each best utilized. For me, my work is helping people take responsibility over their finances and raising my own child. The work with children that I wanted to help with is being continued by a few friends of mine who I introduced to the right people in the field of child development. They will carry my work to bring a specific program to Cleveland because their youthful energy is opening doors for them that would no open for me.

Secret to Abundance – The Answer is Within You

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Many people are searching to find the answer of how to become a millionaire. Maybe it is with the “hot” stock pick for the week. Maybe it is with shopping for the best bargain. There have been success stories, however many more Americans are still deep in debt and feel that it is harder to get ahead. We have gotten stuck in an endless cycle of looking yet not finding the solution. Part of this is that we do not know what we really want. We may believe that we really want a new television, a $1 million or a house on the ocean. However, once we get this, will it be enough (what we really want)?

The answer is no. Money and things do not satisfy our soul, long-term. These things may bring us temporary happiness, yet over time the effects fad. Look at how electronics have evolved recently. You can be very happy that you got the top of the line television or computer a few years ago, only to be disappointed now because it is a technological dinosaur. Thus, we need more and more to have the same effect.

The secret to abundance is not that we should work hard, invest wisely and find the best deals so that we can keep up. Rather, we need to look within to find the real solution. We already know the answer to lasting happiness and abundance because it is already within us. Knowing how to invest and budget can help, yet the real answers to what we want (peace, love and joy) is not in money, it is in us.

1) Happiness starts within – When we look for happiness outside ourselves, we tend to need more and more to keep up. If the answer is “out there”, our happiness diminishes as what we have becomes obsolete. We may dream of having a small cottage on the lake and feel great as it is within our reach only to see our friend have a 3 bedroom house on the ocean beachfront and become envious. The key is to find what really makes us happy. It is not with things, rather what we believe these things we want can give us (such as house on the lake will bring peace). If living on the water brings you peace, you can find peace anywhere, whether or not you can afford the lakefront property. We may think that peace and happiness start with the lakefront property, when it really starts within us first.

2) Financial answers are within – We keep on reading financial books to try to find that missing link on why we just can not get ahead. However, many of the financial tips we already know. In particular, many people know that we should not live beyond our means. We would not work 22 hours a day (consistently) because we would be overcommitted and not have enough time to sleep. So, why do we spend more than we have? Spending beyond our means will just over commit ourselves where we will have no time to relax (or sleep) because we are worried about how to pay the bills. Just like over committing our time is a no-no that we quickly learn in life, why have we not learned as quickly that spending does the same? It is because we want to be happy. The answer is not in having more money to spend what we want, rather we need to find the answer to what it will take to be happy (see first step above).

3) Serving is the key to abundance – When we try to find ways to give less and have more, it is disrupting the “give and receive cycle”. When we give, we receive. Thus, if we give less, we receive less. People have not become abundant by sitting on the sidelines. They have become abundant by being of service. It is in being of service that we receive. The better we serve others, the more we tend to be rewarded for it. When we have more to give, we are more valuable to others.

What happens though is that we try to limit what we give (either in school, at work or other situations), only to limit what we receive.

4) Inner peace – When we are struggling to live day-to-day and stressed how to pay the bills, our energy is going to survival instead of abundance. When we are at financial peace, we can create an environment where we are creative and find the right opportunities. However, when we are stuck with a pile of bills a mile high worried about the bill collector coming, opportunities seem to pass us by.

5) Gut reaction – When we see something that is too good to be true, our gut tells us that it probably is. However, we can ignore our gut when we are desperate to find our prosperity in something out there (money) only to end up deeper in trouble by being conned.

When we search for abundance, we usually miss it because we are looking outside ourselves. When we realize our abundance where we are at, we become more efficient with what we have and receive more. What I mean is that we are not looking for the next gadget to make us happy because we already have what we need. We then are able to put money away for a rainy day (or retirement) and receive back more than we invested (due to compound interest). We are more peaceful and rested that we perform better in the work we do and receive more for our service. We are also able to evaluate opportunities in a relaxed manner where we are not rushed or desperate to jump on the next big thing that we make foolish decisions.

There is no big financial solution that is not within your reach because the solution is already within you.

Reasons Not to Set Your Goal to Become a Millionaire

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

I have been reading some forums on why people want to be a millionaire.
There are four main camps that many of the answers fall into:

• Get whatever I want

• Never have to worry about paying a bill

• Symbol of status or success

• Ability to help others

In these discussions, it seems like the line in becoming a millionaire is a defining moment where dreams can come true. Unfortunately, for many people, they are a long way off from reaching this milestone. And, by the time that some reach it, the millionaire milestone will have lost its meaning and buying power. $1 million in 40 years will be equivalent to about $250,000 today, assuming 3.5% inflation, still a lot of money yet not enough to retire early.

Financial Perspective

One of the things that I have been noticing is that when people have reached certain milestones in life (like becoming a millionaire) the bar of what they and others want to achieve is raised as well. Every day there is something new and different that we can spend our money on. Five years ago, people would have thought it would be crazy to spend $500+ on a phone that could be used to play music and connect to the internet. People just a few years ago would have been satisfied with a cell phone that did not drop their calls. Ten years ago, people would have thought is mad to buy a 3,000+ square foot home especially if they only had one child. Twenty years ago, people would have thought it as crazy to spend $150 on a dinner for two for anything but a golden anniversary celebration. Yet, now these events are common place. Thus, as we become more prosperous as a society, the bar of what we want continues to rise.

A part of our wants is driven by wanting to improve our self-worth. We see what others have and are driven by envy to stay on even footing with others. Even becoming a millionaire is a status symbol. Yet, it does stop at being equal to others. We also look for things because of how it makes us feel. Just 15 years ago, it would have been crazy to think that someone needed a SUV/minivan to haul a family. Growing up in a family with 4 children, the biggest vehicle we had growing up was a station wagon. Now, once a family has one child, it is off to the car dealership for a minivan or SUV with the added costs associate with going to the pump. We say that it is a need and convenience to have a larger vehicle due to having a family. Yet, what part of it is due to the power we feel sitting up high off the ground? What part is it the status symbol like having a BMW or Lexus name plate on the car? So it is not just about keeping up with the Joneses but also about how we try to feel better by what we have.

I know that many people have controlled the need to keep up with the Joneses. They may have learned that they can become a millionaire by limiting their wants now. We sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. However, this just creates a vacuum of wants just waiting to be filled. This is because stopping buying things by cutting up credit cards or following a strict budget, does nothing with the underlying drive we have to acquire the things we wanted in the first place, only delays the drive. Until we figure out what drives us to consume what we do, we will never satisfy our wants. This is why many people seem to get ahead (put some money into savings) and then splurge. Look at what happens to people who win a large lottery or receive an inheritance. Many lottery winners end up bankrupt in 5 years (seen statistics indicating this is anywhere from 30% to 80% of all lottery winners).

Thus, thinking that we will have no worries or have all our wants fulfilled by becoming a millionaire is backwards and leaves many people left wondering where all their money went. Instead, we need to determine what our worries and real wants are first, to free ourselves to become millionaires down the road. If we want to feel more powerful, that can only come from within ourselves. The power we feel from being behind a car will not last. It only leaves us wanting more. For example, next time we would be looking for a bigger truck or SUV (like a Hummer).

Successful Philanthropist

One comment which kept on coming up was that we can help more people by being a millionaire. As a society, we have deemed our success based on a quantifiable measure. Did we tithe 10%? When did we become a millionaire, multi-millionaire or billionaire? It is like the motto of snowboards goes, “go big or go home”. We have a tendency to think that the biggest impact comes from having the most money (reason why we incorrectly equate money to power). We are only successful if we are a millionaire and only then can we really change things and help others.

Yet, we lose track of the impact we have in society, in the present (in the here and now). One of my beliefs is that giving comes in many forms, other than money. For example, giving is in how we use money. We do not understand how a small innocent action can impact the society as a whole. A success stories that I enjoy reading is about how Thomas Edison dropped out of school after the age of 8 because a teacher said he was un-teachable. Where would we have been if our country’s greatest inventor was kept in school languishing instead of home schooled by his mother? We consider Edison as our greatest inventor. What about recognizing his mother as one of our greatest teachers?

Yet, we do not think in terms of what our actions today do to inspire tomorrow’s generation. Rather, we want to play big or stay at home. We think that only when we see our name in lights does it qualify as a “wow” moment. A friend of mine who had financial issues came to see me as a client. When we talked about a course he taught, he did not seem like he really understood the impact that he had. He had a way of minimizing the impact he had and never sat back to observe what he has done. We may not see it in the moment, yet he had more of an impact in the lives of 1,000s of people than he could probably ever realize. A few years ago, I ran a self-improvement course for teens. Every once and a while, I run into a parent of one of the children that came through the course. I could not imagine how a weekend course could affect someone, especially as we were struggling to keep the course going. Yet, the biggest change sometimes comes in the smallest actions or words that are magnified over the years. And, by recognizing this, we can then capitalize our small actions into great things.

Thus, if we are waiting to be successful by leaving our impact on the world or hitting a milestone, we have missed the boat. Our impact is felt in what we do today where the biggest impact is propelling others to reach their goals and dreams. Being a millionaire is not a measure of success rather it is in how we became a millionaire that is more important. Did we have to trample over others to reach our goals? Or, did we help others reach their goals along the way?

Thus, we do not want to become a millionaire. Rather, the goal is in living today because it is how we live today that decides who we are and can become (whether it is a millionaire or not).

The goal is to notice the little things in life rather than the grand milestones.

Is Giving/Being of Service the Key to Prosperity?

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

In watching an Oprah show on The Secret the other day, I was reminded of an important rule of the law of abundance – to give – or in other words how can I be of service? Many times we get caught up in the struggle for money that we forget how we can help others. We are looking more for how to make a buck than how to give someone a good quality product. Yet, many people are probably wondering, if I focus on service/giving will I just be taken advantage of? or will I be rewarded for my service? So, let’s take a minute to look at some of these questions.

Why is service so important?

Usually our focus in our society is on receiving with thoughts such as:

• How can I increase income by $10,000?
• How can I become a millionaire?
• Can I make more money in business for myself than working for a company?

However, what we fail to recognize is that for each act of receiving, there is an act of giving. We usually focus on receiving because we know there are opportunities that we missed over the years (such as not paying off our credit cards quickly enough or not taking full advantage of our 401(k) match or not getting paid what we believed we deserved). However, there is only so much that we can do to improve the efficiency of our receiving before the return from our efforts begins to diminish. Thus, it may make sense to work on our giving portion, as well, because as the saying goes “as you give, so shall you receive.”

Many people have given at work and feel that they never received what they gave. So, does it make sense to burn ourselves out by giving too much? The question is not how much did you give rather how did you give? Many times we give our energy in a very scattered manner where our energy goes everywhere and accomplishes next to nothing. Thus, turning up the level of energy that we give does not accomplish its purpose. The real question is asking your boss, “How can I serve you?” to make sure your energy is focused where it has the most effective (as I discussed in Ask for a pay raise discussion instead of demanding a raise).

When we give (be of service), we can not help but to have it come back because energy flows in a circular pattern. The receiving may be delayed, yet “no good deed goes unrewarded”. Even in the act of giving, many people feel better just knowing that they are helping that it feels just as good as receiving.

Why shouldn’t we focus on making money?

I remember reading a book from an author who said that if you want to become rich than just do. He said writing a book was easy because you just need to write it and put it out there. It sounded to me that he would recommended rushing a product out even if it isn’t your best work (as evident in his book). Well, this was the only book of his that I ever bought (even though he is a semi-popular author who has written many books). Ask yourself, would you buy a car if it had poor quality? Maybe once, yet there is a reason we do not have Yugo cars anymore and why American car makers are suffering. Even though the quality of American cars has improved, it is hard to improve your reputation once it is ruined. By focusing on making money, we often lose focus on service. You need service to stay in business in the long run.

In addition, per the law of attraction, we get what we think about whether we want it or not. There is a paradox in wanting more money. When we want more money, it is usually coming from a feeling that this is something lacking (in other words, we feel poor). If we want to be rich, we actually may remain poor because as I wrote a while back, we get what we have not what we want. If our focus is on being rich to avoid being poor, we can become so desperate trying to avoid being poor that we rush and make stupid mistakes. It is one thing to want money and go for it; it is another thing to rush after it like a fool because “a fool and his money are soon departed”. The key is to see what you have is already enough and work towards an even more prosperous future. This way, you get more of what you already have.

What if I am taken advantage of if I give too much?

I have been thinking about this lately because at time I (for a few moments anyway) feel that my clients take advantage of me on occassion. In my wife’s and my business, we have a lot of clients cancel appointments at the last minute. At times, it is good for me to have a cancellation in that I have extra time to write and spend time with my son. At other times, I feel cheated that I prepared to meet with my clients and then (if I am lucky) got a call that they are not coming. For me, it is alright to have a client cancel every once in a while. It is not that big of deal because my wife and I do not live paycheck to paycheck where I would be desperate for client to pay my bills. I use the cancellation as an opportunity rather than seeing it as an inconvenience. Yet, am I being taken advantage of by giving in to easy?

In thinking about this article, I have learned that the situation where clients repeatedly cancel is not about me being disrespected by a client rather more about my client not respecting their time and money (or their health in the case of my wife’s business). Missing an appointment is a fact of life. There is times when something comes up (like the flu) where an appointment needs to be cancelled. However, when clients put other things first (in a non-life or death situation), they are really disrespecting themselves. They are putting other things in front of improving themselves. At times this is needed, if it is not a common occurrence while for others it is a constant occurrence. It is similar to an article I wrote a few weeks ago in resistance keeps you in the struggle, where a client put working on her business ahead of doing her budget. By putting off her budget, she was only making it more of an uphill struggle to getting her business going. By running around at the last minute all the time to find money to pay her bills, she wasted a lot of time that she could have put into marketing. So, her avoidance of a budget was about disrespecting her own time (her time that she could have used for other things).

So next time you feel disrespected in anyway, see the situation from the other person’s shoes and what they are probably going through. If they are disrespecting or taking advantage of you, they are probably disrespecting themselves at the same time. For example, they may be trying to cheat you out of money. Yet, they are only disrespecting themselves, feeling that they need to cheat others to be able to get ahead (lack of self-worth – not able to do it on their own). If it is a minor occurrence (a few bucks), let it go because it is not worth the energy worrying about. When it happens repeatedly, you can help the person by showing them how they are disrespecting you or by setting a clear boundary with them. For myself, when clients are constantly canceling, I talk to them about it and I can either charge a fee for their cancellations or stop seeing them until they get serious about dealing with their finances. Being of service does not mean that you need to put up with being a punching bag for others.

Do we always see the outcome from what we give?

No, many times we are not going to see a direct result. This is a problem that many businesses are facing with their employees. We live in a society where people want instant gratification. Thus, when businesses can not give an instant raise, workers get disappointed because they give so much and get no reward. No wonder there is a rush to start your own company these days where they can get an instant reward when they get a new client instead of waiting for a raise as an employee. However, many people do not understand that wanting this instant gratification gets in the way of their happiness by needing a reward to be happy. In addition, even though they want an instant reward, they do not want to instant penalty to goes along with it (for example, an employee getting docked financially for making a $10,000 mistake or being docked a days pay because their attention was on an argument with their spouse instead of on their job). We always want instant gratification, but not the consequences that go with it (such as paying $10,000 for a mistake when they own their business).

Life is not about instant gratification. We should be grateful for this. If all our thoughts came to us in the physical form instantly, we would instantly have that $1 million that we wish for, yet we would also have all our other negative thoughts as well (for example, get cancer when we fear of what would happen if we get sick). This is why they say “patience is a virtue”.

You never know when being of service will pay off. You meet someone when volunteering that can help you to get your next job or to help you start a business. Sometimes when you blog, you can get noticed by a larger publication and turn you hobby into a full time job or you may get $20 from a grateful reader. You never know how things will work out. All you can do is your best and know that everything is well, thus there is no need to receive right away because everything is working out the way it should.

If you have other questions that you like me to answer, please leave me a comment or e-mail to let me know how I can be a service to you.

Wishing Everyone a Joyous Holiday Season and a Happy New Year

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

As Hanukkah ends, Christmas begins and Kwanza is just around the corner, I wanted to use this as an opportunity to look at some of the symbols of the holidays and what they mean to me. Please forgive me in advance if these symbols do not line up exactly with everyone’s beliefs. These are just some random thoughts as I see them from a prosperity perspective:

Hanukkah Candle – The story goes that there was just enough oil for one night, yet the candle burnt bright for eight days. From a prosperity consciousness, this symbolizes how sometimes we fear having enough. Yet, if we have faith, we will have enough to sustain ourselves for as long as we need it.

Star of Bethlehem – The star showed the way for the Wise Men to the baby Jesus. It is also a sign for hope (wishing upon a star). We usually think that darkness covers up our own light. Yet, it is really the light that shines brightly in the dark. So, do you downplay your ability and brilliance in dark times when you need some hope or do you let you light shine. For example, if you see companies as greedy, do you cover up whom you are in the corporate world to fit in (to keep your job) or do you bring love and kindness into the cold corporate environment. Prosperity comes when we bring hope to what seems like a bleak situation.

Santa Claus – The true spirit of giving. People sometimes give to get something in return. Yet, Santa Claus gives without the expectation of receiving anything back (except some milk and cookies). Giving works when there is no attachment to what we expect in return. I had a client who couldn’t understand why he gave so much and got nothing in return. When we give just because we want something back, we are coming from a place of lack. Per the law of attraction, if we believe we have lack, that is what we will attract. So give, for giving sake and not for what you will get in return.

Unity Cup (Kikombe Cha Umoja) – Signifies the strength of the family and community. When people think of prosperity, it is usually about making themselves prosperous. Yet, there is strength in numbers. By making others prosperous, we will become prosperous as well. Yet, when we look out for ourselves, it sets up a weak house that can easily crumble.

May your holiday season be joyful and may the New Year bring you new opportunities for prosperity.