In our last conversation I addressed our emotional or psychological barriers to personal growth. Now before you get the wrong idea remember I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or any other medical professional who has been trained to make a clinical diagnosis of a condition or a disability. However…
I have worked a long time with many different business owners who have struggled with trying to grow their companies. These hardworking entrepreneurs have gotten “derailed” time after time by their own behavior. And yet universally they don’t recognize their own destructive tendencies! So sad because these folks bring incredible frustration and pain upon themselves (and their families!) and place a drag on the growth of their companies.
To understand why we do or don’t have profits in our businesses we first have to understand what our underlying beliefs are about money. So we have to go back to the lessons we learned about money at an early age. In his book Seven Stages of Money Maturity, author George Kinder hits the nail on the head when he writes, “As soon as we become aware of money, we develop beliefs about it—beliefs we cling to, sometimes for the rest of our lives, often at the cost of our souls.” Heavy stuff indeed!
Our first “money teachers” were usually our parents. They may have purposely sat us down and talked with us about fiscal responsibility. Or more likely as children we simply observed the ways our parents managed (or mismanaged) money in their own lives. Either way our first lessons on money management and money worthiness came during our early childhood. For example…
If our parents were “frugal” (driven by reducing expenses rather than increasing income) then more than likely we will be “frugal” too. If our parents were resigned to the belief they could never accumulate money then guess what? We start out believing that it is normal to “live hand-to-mouth”! If our parents didn’t model sound fiscal disciplines, then we will have to (probably painfully!) learn new ways to manage money if we expect to be better off financially than they were.
Not too long ago I was riding in a car with a business manager when we passed a beautiful home with a gated entrance, long driveway, and exquisitely landscaped yard. I commented on how beautiful the home was. Without hesitation the guy I was with said, “There’s no way they could have gotten that honestly.” His comment threw me completely off guard. Somewhere along the line this guy learned to equate being wealthy with being dishonest. So who do you think he might have picked this sad and completely untrue belief from?
On another occasion I was driving my son and two of his teammates home from lacrosse practice. We dropped off one of the boys at his very large, stately home. As we were driving away the boy who was still in the car made remarks like, “That’s just too big,” and “You have to draw the line somewhere.” Well, I have a pretty good idea who was drawing this young man’s financial line… it was his parents! So he’s going to take these lessons he’s learning as a child and live them out in his adult life — just like so many of the rest of us do.
This doesn’t mean we’re condemned to live our financial lives exactly as our parents did. But it does mean that if we want to be different, it will take a deliberate effort on our part to break these learned patterns. More on this in my next post.