Money and Your Inner Game

Lewis Walker |

In her 2018 novel, All We Ever Wanted, bestselling author Emily Giffen gets to the heart of lies and scandal involving two families in Nashville, one made incredibly wealthy after a self-centered husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and the other family with a single father, a hard working middle class woodworker, raising a teenage daughter. Thrown together, all are forced to question “their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.”

Giffen quotes what she termed an old saying, “Money makes you more of what you already are.” Since bestselling writers are by nature well-read, the saying that “stuck in her head” may have come from T. Harv Eker’s 2005 motivational book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth. Eker maintains that we all have a “money and success blueprint ingrained in our subconscious minds, and it is this blueprint, more than anything, that will determine our financial lives.” Eker is spot-on, which is why life centered financial advisors are urged to ask a key question, “What is your earliest memory of money?”

Money can make you more of, or less of, who you are, for better or worse. It’s a tool used in the execution of your life’s mission and vision. How does your mission and vision improve your life, the life of those you love and who love you, those who depend on you, that of your community and overall sphere of influence?

We financial advisors need to know your story and that of your spouse or partner. How did you get to where you are, where are you now, and where do you want to go, individually and as partners as the case may be? Framing current circumstances in terms of your “inner blueprint,” your instinctive internal modis operandi, will influence lifelong educational, training, and personal development pursuits. How do you value and treat money? How do you earn it, spend it, save and invest it, protect it? How do you allocate time, talent, and treasure in terms of family, business, profession, community, and spiritual pursuits? A “life-centered financial plan” is about far more than investments, asset allocation, tax strategies, and risk management. It’s about what you truly value, and the legacy you’ll leave after you’re gone.

Lessons learned in childhood from positive and negative experiences, what we glean from watching those who raised us, religious and humanistic values instilled in us by influencers like parents, teachers, and peers─how we rise after being knocked down─have much to do with success in life, and how we personally define and measure success. Some with modest net worth can be intensely happy and secure while millionaires and billionaires can be personal, physical, and emotional train wrecks.

As we come out of the pandemic, where are you? Charles R. Swindoll, founder of the radio program “Insight for Living,” offers a pythonic observation that can be applied to the current preoccupation about the wealth gap in America, debates about “equality of opportunity” versus the “equity of results.” Asserts pastor Swindoll, “Attitude is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, money, circumstances, failures and success, and what other people think, say, or do. It's more important than appearance, ability, or skill. It will make or break a business, a home, a friendship, an organization. The remarkable thing is I have a choice every day of what my attitude will be. I cannot change my past. I cannot change the actions of others. I cannot change the inevitable. The only thing I can change is attitude. Life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.”

Personal and family setbacks, as many of us have witnessed during this pandemic, force a reset of attitudes, activities, focus, and direction. Larger events involving how we make a living, abrupt changes in the economic environment such as a deep recession or market crash, force major life transitions. Happy events and life milestones precipitate major life transitions─such as, marriage, birth of the child, purchase of a first home, graduations, career advancements, and retirement.  The flip side may be divorce, a special needs child or adult that demands care, disability, chronic illness, death, disagreement, dissolution of a closely-held business, and boredom or loss of meaning and purpose in retirement.

There are over sixty major life transitions that can challenge you on your sojourn from birth to death. You’ve just been through one, a pandemic. Now what, pilgrim? What’s your plan for renewal and reset? Does money define you or do you define your money?  How do you use it and for what overriding purpose?