Money: For Better or for Worse?

Money influences us daily.

No wonder our world is driven by it and seemingly obsessed over it!

To be ensnared by it or free of its grip: believe it or not, we have the choice.

When I was younger, I thought money meant success, greatness and happiness. I imagined that once I had a lot of it, my anxieties in life would vanish and life would be carefree.

I soon realized that money is not happiness nor is it success. Money can be a tool for survival, peace of mind, pleasure, satisfaction, success… but it doesn’t promise any of these things!

Money can be the avenue towards great potential. It can also lead to great pain.

Because money has such power in our lives and will often influence our behaviors, it is one of the 5 Pillars in E5 Leader. As you begin your journey into E5, you’ll see that each of the 5 areas of your life that make up the everyday – spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, and financial – are intermingled and work for and against each other. Strength in all pillars gives you equilibrium in life. A weakness in one or more pillar will weaken your ability and capacity.

When I began learning how to attain financial balance, I was a young husband and dad, my family was growing and my bank account was thin to say the least! Financial was the weakest of my 5 pillars.

I let it consume my mind and control my attitudes. Because of that, it was the pillar that threw me off balance the most.

I remember sleepless nights and frustrating conversations about money with my wife. We had to live three months without hot water, two years without the “splurge” of a new microwave, old shoes and old cars, no family vacations and so on…. So frustrating!

I’m not trying to teach you about how to make money or even how to get out of “the hole.” This lesson is not about how to balance the check book or what investments you should make.

Rich or not we all have concerns about money. Zig Ziglar, legendary leadership guru, quipped: “Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the ‘gotta have it’ scale.”

Good ol’ Zig!

Money is needed by everyone in one way or another. Funny enough, whether you have millions of it or only a few bucks, the concern for money never goes away.

We all deal with things like financial legacy, how to acquire more, how to pay bills, taxes, or what charity to support…. Of course, financial concerns do change depending on the size of your bank account but they never really go away.

I want to help you develop the right attitude, or culture of thought, about money. Through this lens, you’ll attain a proper perspective and will begin to enjoy a life of financial balance.

I’ll teach you today how to treat money as a tool and only that so that it doesn’t trap you into becoming its slave. A tool for gaining the essentials of life. A tool to bring joy to life. A tool used to bless others.

Considering the amount of concern and anxiety money can bring to your life, developing a proper financially-related culture of thought is a smart idea. These thoughts will test, confirm and expand your view on your financial attitude.

I want to share with you a few tips for expanding your culture of thought as it relates to money: I have gathered these nuggets over the years and I am excited to share them with you.

#1 The pie is not finite

Anxiety often surrounds money because you assume there is a limited supply.

Just like when people panic to get generators or supplies following a natural disaster, financial scarcity can lead people to panic and unrest. This finite mentality is rooted in fear and disbelief. Consider seeing the possibilities rather than focusing on the ‘what ifs’.

Tip: Develop the attitude that with faith all things are possible and through discipline and direction your financial reality can be as prosperous as you can dream it to be. Use positive words to uplift your belief in yourself. Success comes to those who pay the price.

#2 Delay is not denial

Good things often come to those who wait.

Do you remember as a kid wanting that new toy or game and your parents saying, “You’ll have to wait until you’ve saved enough allowance,” or, “Your birthday is soon, maybe you will get it then”? Remember that feeling of anxious, impatient anticipation?

We have a tendency to want things now – regardless of the fact if we have the money for it – so we charge it or put ourselves in a financial burden rather than wait until the prudent time. This ‘I want it now’ mentality leads to financial and emotional distress because we allow desire to overtake prudence.

Tip: Next time you’re presented with something you really want, do your homework, find a better deal, and if needed, budget accordingly. Use patience, prudence, and control. This practice will help build a stewardship mindset.

#3 No need to keep up with the Jones’s

It’s funny to me how neighbors or friends have so much power over the way we think about and spend money.

Having a covetous mindset can lead to over spending, mismanaging accounts and a feeling of not being good enough – all which lead to feeling unaccomplished and anxious. We worry more about how others perceive us than about being good stewards of our blessings.

FDR said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Some people may have nicer things than you. So what? Focus on being the best person you can be and leave materialism at the door.

Tip: Begin noting your spending habits: are they a reflection of what your friends do? Also, begin noting how much of your time is spent thinking or talking about what other people have. It’s OK to dream and want better things but it’s not OK to compare or covet: that gets you nowhere. Comparing yourself to others will steal the joy from your days. Rather focus on being a better person than you were yesterday: focus on self-improvement rather than worrying about everyone else.

#4 Need vs. Want

A need is a necessity in life: heat, water, food, clothes, education, tithing…. A want is a non-survival element of life, such as a 56” plasma TV to replace your 50” or the Disney vacation you put on credit.

Often, we allow wants to rule our financial decisions and materialism to become the driving force in your bank account. This mentality leaves less financial room for the needs of your life. A simple way to move into a healthier financial reality is to deny ourselves wants and focus on needs.

Tip: Use wants as a reward for hard work accomplished. They will become much more appreciated and valued. Limiting the wants in life will help you gain a better sense of stewardship and responsibility and leave you with more money. Next time you really, really want something, take this route: wait for 30 days, re-evaluate your want, if you still would like it, prepare to buy it as a reward or a gift for the family.

I hope these tips help you as much as they helped me. Great stewardship of your finances will not only give you a return monetarily but will also lead to a healthier you in all 5 pillars – spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically as well as financially.

Go and Grow!

About E5 Leader

For the past 30 years, we’ve been teaching CEOs, leaders of teams, and stakeholders in a variety of industries how to achieve excellence and peace in equal measure. At E5 Leader, we believe that having all of the money and success in the world doesn’t matter if your relationships are falling apart or your health is failing. We believe there's no title on a page that can hold more sway than going to sleep at night knowing you’re in sync with those you love the most. At the end of the day, you’ll never be the leader out in the world you’re capable of being if you don’t know how to lead first from within.