Welcome to my Guest Post Series! For the rest of 2014, my team and I are in deep creation mode, writing my book, The Art of Money. Yay! While we’re away, I’m thrilled to present voices + perspectives about money (and much more) from some of my favorite colleagues + thinkers. Don’t fret, though! I love you all too much to stay silent for long. Look for the occasional article (and book excerpt!) from me … meanwhile, soak up this fresh + eclectic wisdom from my friends. Enjoy!
This is a guest post by Kate Swoboda (for more on Kate, see the bottom of this post.)
I’ve been a life coach since 2006, and in my transition from being a budding coach just starting out (and not making any money), to creating a fledgling practice (and making some money), to creating a thriving practice (and making more money), to training people to become life coaches (and teaching them how to make money), one thing has been consistent:
As a society, we have some really, really interesting projections around money.
Particularly in the helping and creative professions, people ask themselves: How can you take money, doing something that you love? How can you ask for $100 per client session, when you’ve never dreamed of making money like that in your entire life? How do you deal with the guilt of making a lot of money, when so many other people are suffering or doing without?
These are great questions that do not always have easy answers, but here are 5 things I’ve learned about the money fallacies that we carry, all of which can hold you (and your business, and your income earning potential) back:
First fallacy: if I have X amount of money, that means that something is unfair for someone else (thus, I’m part of someone else’s suffering).
Many of us carry an unexamined “Story” (an internal narrative) that the amount of money they have causes other people to suffer–it’s the “If I have a lot of money, and other people don’t have a lot of money, then I would feel terrible about that” feeling, which most of us walk around with but don’t ever fully acknowledge in our experience.
The truth is that the amount of money that you have right now does not cause other people to suffer. Our collective choices as a society about what to do our money contribute to collective suffering, but other people do not have less, just because you have more–and at any time that you desire to make choices with your money that are in alignment with the alleviation of suffering, you always have that choice.
Second fallacy: You should keep yourself from ever earning too much money, because then you’ll be part of the same establishment that causes so much suffering for others.
Truth? If social justice issues, particularly those surrounding poverty, truly bother you, money is a huge asset for combatting them. When you have more, you are in a greater position of power to help anyone else, than when you have less. I donate far more money to charity now, than I did ten years ago. Why? Because I have more. I have far more capacity to give now, than I did when I had less to give.
So if a sticking point of yours is “I feel guilty charging $100 an hour for my sessions,” then I’d really invite you to reframe that as, “When I charge $100 for my sessions, I’ll actually be in a better position to help more people, than before.”
I am someone who really, really cares about issues of social justice. It really bothers me when I see that people who have a lot of money get away with not paying any taxes, just because they can hire a better accountant than me who can find them every single tax loophole.
My aim with money is to make plenty of it–and to absolutely pay my fair share to contribute to the collective whole and use money as a tool for living my values. I am in a better position to do something about the social justice issues that the world faces, when I elevate myself and when I use my privilege to create more good.
Every single person reading this, simply by virtue of having access to an electronic device, has some kind of access to some kind of privilege. Rather than feeling guilty that you have that access, remember that your privilege makes you powerful. The world needs more powerful people who use their privilege to live their visions, and part of my vision–and I’m guessing yours, too–is to help others.
Third fallacy: What you charge is about trading exact time for exact time, and you’d better make sure not to “charge too much.”
Truth: what you charge for your art, your session time with a client, or anything else, is rarely about the actual time-for-time spent on the work of art or the phone call.
If you charge $100 an hour for a client call, you are not actually making $100 an hour. You are making $100 for your time on the call, your time spent setting up the call, the time spent training so that you would be prepared on that call, the time spent marketing to find the client for that call, the time spent feeding yourself and the expenses of caring for yourself so that you can be on that call supporting someone else, and the costs of cell phone access or computer internet access, and what that phone or computer cost to purchase, as well as the taxes that you’ll pay on that $100 that will then go back into society to fund roads and schools and many other things that ALL of us use, every single day.
Fourth fallacy: Rich people are inherently selfish and out of touch with the suffering of others.
Truth: Many rich people give an enormous amount to charity (and struggle with the judgment they feel from others who resent them for having money). Furthermore, the only reason someone does not give and give abundantly is because they are operating from a scarcity mentality.
In other words, anyone who has far, far more than they need who doesn’t share what she has, is suffering. They are in PAIN. They actually do not understand how good it would feel if they stepped fully into giving more. We need to stop judging people with money as inherently bad, and instead work together to create solutions to the problem the world faces, together.
Fifth fallacy: There’s nothing I can do to change the system.
Truth: the people who are making minimum wage at low-income jobs where they are treated improperly need those of us who don’t have to work those jobs to do what we can to help society stop suffering.
A collective movement that changes consciousness is the only way that something’s going to click for the person who owns that factory or that restaurant, to get them to say, “Look, this isn’t right. I’m not treating my people well. I don’t like who I am when I do that. This has to change.”
We can make decisions that change the system. In fact, time and again it’s the people who have more money who can enact the most pressure on any business who mistreats their employees. They can decide not to shop with a particular store, or to put their foot down and decide to enact legislation that stops someone from hurting others.
It starts with those concerned citizens having healed some of their own wounds and suffering, so that they feel more powerful and capable of doing good with others.
If you use your business to do what you love and be paid well for it, and if you step into truly valuing this work and seeing the ripple effect that it can create, and if you decide that you’re going to live your values and your life vision through your work, this is not selfish.
You’re actually helping the world, starting with helping yourself. That’s actually the only place it can start. You cannot pull water from a well that has run dry. The well has to be full.
Fill your well, because that’s what enables you to give to others.
Kate Swoboda (a.k.a. Kate Courageous) is the author of the Courageous Living Program, founder of the Courageous Living Coach Certification, and creator of YourCourageousLife.com, where she defines courage as feeling afraid, diving in anyway, and transforming. Her approach combines straight-shooting, pragmatic wisdom with playfully poking at self-imposed limitations of who you are and what’s truly possible for you.
Kate was deemed one of the top 50 bloggers making a difference in fitness, health, and happiness by Greatist. She’s written for The Daily Love, ProBlogger, MindBodyGreen, Lifetime Moms, and was a breakout session speaker at the 2012 World Domination Summit.