How would you run your business (or your life) if money was simply a detail to be taken into account, and neither a driving force nor a "necessary evil"?
Twice a year, my business manager and I get together to take a fresh look at the business side of what I do. We examine the numbers, review the past six months, and look eighteen months into the future to get a sense of where things might be going and any adjustments we might want to make.
My favorite part of these semi-annual reviews is the chance to reflect on how my deepening understanding of the work that I do will impact the way I do business. So last week, when we got to that part of our time together, she asked me what insights I'd had into life, the universe, and everything that might affect the way we structure the business in the future.
What came to mind was an exchange I had with a casual acquaintance over the Christmas holiday. We've known Joanne almost since the time we first moved to America, and as her English is about as good as my Portuguese, she and I have never really spent that much time talking. Which is why it caught me slightly off guard when after nearly thirteen years of knowing her, she asked me what I did for a living.
I told her that I teach and I coach and I write. When she asked me what I teach and coach and write about, I said "the spiritual principles behind success, happiness, relationships, and pretty much anything else that people get up to in the world."
She seemed to like that answer, and took her time formulating her next question.
"Is business OK?", she asked, somewhat shyly. "It's just that many of my friends are struggling at the moment, and it doesn't sound like that would be an easy thing to sell when times are hard."
I surprised myself with what I said next.
"I help people for a living. And I'm never going to run out of people to help, so business will always be good."
What surprised me about my response was that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was both true and false. True, in that for better or for worse, there will never be a shortage of people in need of assistance to live their lives with more grace and ease and power. But false in that whether or not that means that "business will always be good" is as much dependent on how I set up the game as on how well I play it.
After some discussion and reflection, this led me to the following articulation of our business planning task for the days ahead:
1. I want to work with people that I want to work with and really believe I can help.
2. I want a certain amount of money to live how I want to live.
3. I want point 1 to be the basis for how I make my "what do I spend my time doing and who do I spend my time doing it with?" decisions, and want a structure around point 2 that supports me in doing that.
So that's what we set about doing. I let go of being scared of the numbers, and drilled down into them at a deeper level. We've tweaked the financial part of our plan to limit and space out our outgoings, and focused the delivery part of the plan to maximize the amount of time I spend working with people I really want to work with and really believe I can help.
What I've discovered over the years is that the more clearly you can see that your well-being is an independent variable and has no relationship to your bank balance, the easier it is to be fearless around money. And if you can be financially fearless and financially savvy at the same time, your odds of financial success go up exponentially.
Am I in a place of total freedom inside and out, where 100% of my business decisions will be made without fear or constraint? No, and I may never be. But instead of the 80/20 rule working against me and the vast majority of my business decisions being driven by fear and insecurity, over the past few years I've deepened my understanding of the human experience and changed the rules of the game in my business so that at least 80% of my business decisions can be made from a place of clarity, freedom, and love.