Imagine a coach (or psychologist!) asking you this question. What would your answer be?
I was asked this question, when I was in my 20s, by a coach and I remember it to this day.
Here is my initial answer (try not to laugh or think “that’s crazy!”).
I said: money is a man. A white man. In his late 40s.
He has silver hair, he is handsome. He’s wearing an expensive grey suit. He works in finance. He’s an extremely busy individual. He drives an expensive car...
I’ll spare you the rest. (I’m shaking my own head, as I remember this)
The kicker however, comes in the next question: do you know anyone like this? Or another version that I’ve since used with my own clients: “would you spend time with this person?” or yet another version: “is this person your friend?”
My answer, back then, was “No”.
I think by now, you can tell the problematic nature of my answers.
My answers uncovered a hidden truth. That money for me, back then, was something “out there”, far away. Something that people, the kind who I didn’t have as friends (groan!), had.
Is it any wonder that I didn’t have much money back then?
So let me ask YOU now: if money was a person, what would that person be like? Look like? Behave like?
The next step my coach took me through was changing my definition of money. Turning it into one that felt closer to me, that truly resonated with me.
By the end of that coaching session: money, to me, was a woman—a beautiful, black-skinned woman in her 50s. (I’ll admit, Oprah Winfrey came to mind back then).
My description of money changed over the years. As I made more money, money to me became a clear blue stream of water, ever-flowing, dynamic, refreshing. I wanted to swim in it, laugh and play in it (this was the phase when I realised how money supported me and the gratitude I felt to have it).
Today if you ask me this question, my answer is simple.
Money looks like, talks like and behaves like a black African woman, a mother, a wife, who loves the work she does, being of service—a woman with her own coaching business.
In other words, money looks like ME.
What’s even more wonderful is this- I am surrounded by beautiful African women, who are business owners and friends. So even THEY remind me of what money can look like, be like, sound like, act like, feel like.
Money doesn’t feel alien to me anymore.
Let me ask you this, now: does money feel alien to you? Or does money feel close to you?
How do you REALLY (caps) feel about money?
Is money your friend? Is money a wonderful support to you? Are you thankful to money?
Can you look in the mirror and see someone who attracts money?
Or is money a thing that you have a love-hate relationship with?
Does money seem elusive? Like a complete drag to acquire?
Or maybe you’re one of these folks who says “money is the root of all evil” (by the way, money is NOT the root of all evil. It’s the pursuit of money by any means necessary that is problematic for the world - not money itself)
How do you REALLY feel about the ultra-wealthy? Are you happy for them? Inspired by them? Jealous of them? Convinced that they are unscrupulous? Do you secretly feel happy when a wealthy person fails at something?
Your answers say a lot about how you REALLY (caps) feel about money.
What I counsel my clients to do is to make friends with money. To appreciate it. To be thankful whenever they receive money. And to be thankful when they can spend money - on rent, your mortgage, school fees, to help your elderly parents, to go on a holiday…
I encourage clients to see money as dynamic. It moves in and out of your life. No need to be forever stingy with yourself and/or your spouse and kids.
You receive you spend, you receive you spend - and to do it all with gratitude, because believe me, there is someone out there, right now, praying to receive some money to spend on school fees, on rent, on helping elderly parents...
When it comes to investing, I encourage clients to invest in what they are genuinely excited to invest in. You’ll need to stay on top of your investments, and yes, you can pass that onto an investment manager, but it’s important to be and to stay interested in what you’ve invested in. It helps to research, and to keep researching, you need a base level of genuine interest in whatever you’re investing in.
For business owners, when it comes to “what should I charge?” I follow the advice of an old business coach of mine. Focus on solving people’s problems and charge what you feel is fair for ALL your efforts. Don’t undercharge (you’ll get resentful) and don’t overcharge (you won’t be able to justify it). One person may feel $100 is enough, another may feel $1000 is enough. Yet another may feel $10,000 is it. All of them are right. It depends on you and what you feel is fair for all your efforts.
Sometimes, you won’t even need to spend money in order to receive something you really want. It may be gifted to you… this has happened to me so many times. And I’m so thankful when that happens. Because even when you receive a “free” anything, understand this - someone at some point spent money on it.
Think of all the people around the world, doing genuine good in not-for-profit organisations and foundations. Someone, somewhere is giving them money to do so.
When you get a scholarship, YOU may not be paying for your education, but someone else is.
Thank goodness for money, I tell you. Thank goodness for money. Make money your friend; be grateful for it.
At the end of the day, a key influencer of how you engage with money (and determines whether you make any abundantly or are often broke) is how you REALLY feel about it.
So ask yourself some key questions. Starting with, if money was a person, what would he/she look like, sound like, act like.
And more importantly: is this person you describe someone you’d want to spend time with?