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You Are Not What You Have

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

I read a wonderful article a couple of months ago – an interview with Abigail Disney about what it’s like to grow up with more money than you’ll ever spend. (I’ve added the link at the bottom if you’re interested.)

It struck me that money can be a very divisive topic.

On the whole, we’re all in business to make money. Yet it’s the one thing that people find the hardest to talk about. Ms Disney offers an interesting perspective: she doesn’t claim that money is irrelevant – she’s very honest about what money has and hasn’t brought to her family - but she asserts that money is NEUTRAL. We must focus on who we are in the world and find others measures of value and success. A message for us all.

“Money is morally neutral. It does not, in and of itself, make you a bad person. It also does not, in and of itself, make you a good person. You are who you are and the least important thing about you is what you have.” - Abigail Disney

I come across many business owners who find it hard to talk about money, who are embarrassed that money is a driver for them as a business owner.

So let’s start by being honest. Money is what the world uses as primary currency. We do not function by way of a global bartering system. We all need money to live; that fact needn’t be taboo.

Our work, our businesses, are meant to make money. It’s vital to have a bigger purpose, a clear idea of who we want to serve and the difference we want to make to them. We need to make money to live, which enables us to fulfill that bigger purpose.

Money is indeed neutral. It isn’t good, it isn’t bad, and the amount we ‘need’ is 100% subjective. That’s why a business in which money alone is the driver is demotivating. You won’t ever ‘accomplish’ a goal to make money because no set amount will ever feel right.

“They did a study at the Chronicle of Philanthropy years ago where they asked people who inherited money, “What amount of money would you need to feel totally secure?” And every single one of them, no matter what they had, named a number that was roughly twice what they inherited.” Abigail Disney

The flow of money in and out of your business is not always in your control.

What is in your total control is your purpose and what drives you to do the work that you do.

When I work with business owners, I ask them key questions intended to help them bypass their discomfort around money, so they can direct their energy to the work that serves them and their customers.

What is of real value to you?

Recognise this, and let it help you define why you’re in business. Keep your purpose at the forefront of what you’re doing. You’ll find that simply by shifting your focus to your ‘why’ changes the way you market yourself, attracts the right clients & customers, and the money you want will start to flow as a result.

What do you believe you are worth?

When setting your prices, be prepared to ask for what you want. When you’re in service to your customers and you know that you’re delivering the best that you can, be prepared to be remunerated accordingly.

Don’t be deterred if someone tells you your work is “too expensive”. In your head, add the words “…for me.” They’re saying “this is too expensive for me…” They’re at a point where they have not fully appreciated your value and that’s fine. Focus on attracting people who do – I promise they’re out there!

Ultimately, when you’re clear about what matters to you and to your business, and you’re clear about the difference you want to make, you can set your charges as you see fit. Know that you are charging accordingly; be prepared to say ‘no’ to lesser amounts when needed.

Don’t confuse your value with the numbers flowing through your bank account. Those numbers are neutral, and don’t mean anything to anyone but you. Your value is the service that you give to the world, and the impact you choose to have. Let that determine who you are.

“You are who you are and the least important thing about you is what you have.”

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