The following is a transcript of this podcast episode:
For more than a decade, I’ve had thousands of hours of life-changing conversations with men. While we may initially focus on their personal development, I’ve found that their mindset around work and money plays a massive role in the quality of their entire lives.
In other words — if they are playing small professionally, it’s going to show up in every area of their life, too.
Today I want to have some fun with some very generalized, polarized ideas to help illustrate how we may be limiting ourselves and all that our lives have to offer. If you’re able to remember that these are just ideals, then let’s move forward.
So let’s start with the idea of “success.”
Now, “success” as it is so often described is not all it’s cracked up to be. For many, choosing “success” means we choose shallow or superficial relationships in order to get ahead. It means we consistently deprive ourselves of what genuinely feeds us in hopes that someday we’ll feel satisfied. It means we push aside what gives us meaning in order to go for the gold.
And because of this, we don’t have to dig very deep to realize that professional success alone doesn’t ensure fulfillment, freedom, or peace of mind. It doesn’t totally protect us from life’s ups and downs, and it can often distract us from the purpose for being alive.
So does that mean being “anti-successful” is the answer? Does that mean we should sit on our meditation cushions and take a self-righteous piss on the finer things in life? Should we sip our locally-fermented kombucha and judge those that are driven to create powerfully in the world? Should we quote the Buddha while we bounce another check?
Thoughts like “You have to be shallow in order to be rich” or “you’ll go broke if you choose to lead a life of meaning” are two very common, powerfully ingrained beliefs. This “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” mindset keeps many guys stuck on a frustrating path in life.
Just like the macho jerk and the new age wimp, we can create two highly-polarized, generalized, imaginary archetypes to represent these ideas around success and money.
Let’s call them:
The Shallow Success Chaser and The Broke Spiritual Seeker
I laugh at these because I can see both of these guys in myself. No one is completely one or the other. But they are both rooted our reactive, fear-based thinking. They’re both two sides of the same fear coin.
Which means, there has to be a better way, right? That’s where our hero, The New Man comes in. He’s the guy that transcends the bullshit while including the best qualities of both.
Now let’s talk about how these archetypes work with power.
3 Guys. 3 Boats.
Let’s imagine you and I are standing near a bay watching 3 guys in 3 different small boats. And let’s imagine that these small boats don’t have an engine of any kind — just a sail, an oar, and a rudder.
In boat number 1 we can see The Shallow Success Chaser fighting the current and wind. Like a rat on a wheel, he’s in a battle to make headway through the massive power working against him. He’s oblivious to why he’s struggling. He just knows life is a struggle, and he’s hoping that any minute now it won’t be anymore. There’s no time to learn a better way because he’s got shit to do.
In boat number 2 we see The Broke Spiritual Seeker simply “going with the flow.” He may not appear to be struggling, but he’s not at peace either. He’s not relaxed. He feels powerless because he is unable to steer or guide his boat wherever he would like to go. He may be moving, but in reality he’s being swept away.
And then we see our hero, The New Man in boat number 3. He has a clear sense of direction that comes from deep within him. And instead of struggling against or being swept away by all the power moving around him, he’s able to use this power to take him where he wants to go. This guy even manages to pop a bottle of the bubbly stuff to enjoy along the way. What a badass.
Remember — these are just generalized, polarized ideals to help us understand our mindset a bit better.
So now, let’s play a game.
I’ve written some statements that describe each of these archetypes. As I go through these lists, mentally check off each one that you believe to be true — or even partially true — for you.
Afterwards we’ll discuss how The New Man could transcend the worst qualities of each while including the best.
Here we go.
Up first — The Shallow Success Chaser
• Believes being “busy” is admirable
• Gets caught up in comparing himself to others
• Believes his results, wins, and losses define who he is as a person — if he loses then he believes he’s a loser
• His emotional world is a roller coaster — his mood goes up or down with his external wins and losses
• Seeks enjoyment through beating or being “better” than others
• Has a fear of being helped because it’s more important to appear that he has it all together
• Experiences chronic drama at work and at home
• Has no sense of purpose or mission other than to be “successful” — whatever that means
• Tolerates superficial relationships — the people in his life are merely there to help him be or appear to be more successful
• Maintains a facade of strength which makes him rigid and defensive
• Is scared of new ideas or anything that threatens his way of thinking
• Has Yellow Labrador Syndrome — he feels lost if he doesn’t have a goal to achieve (“Just throw the ball so I can chase it again!”)
• Has a need to control the world and have control over others
• Is unaware that he’s still trying to prove or defend something that didn’t get worked out in his younger years
• Believes that self-pressure and self-deprivation are necessary to get things done and achieve success and happiness
• Justifies having a lousy life now so that he can (hopefully) enjoy life later
• Has a fear of being satisfied because it means he may lose his “edge”
• Believes that having a heart and strong sense of values will make him go broke or make him “soft”
• For him, making money doesn’t mean much anymore — he doesn’t feel fulfilled by the positive impact
• Feels that no matter what he’s done it’s never really enough
• Has a sense that it’s him against the world — He believes, “I’m the dominant creative force in my life. It’s all up to me.”
• Lacks authentic friendships. Doesn’t feel comfortable telling others what is really happening in his life.
Could you relate to any of those qualities? When I’m eclipsed by my fears I certainly can. We all do it. It happens.
Now let’s explore the other extreme…
The Broke Spiritual Seeker
• Believes he needs more information and analysis before taking action
• Plays in the shallow end of the pool professionally
• Has big dreams but doesn’t follow through
• Believes money is bad or dirty or “the root of all evil”
• Believes money has a magical quality
• Has a child-like relationship with money
• Believes in the “abundance of the universe” but feels constant scarcity around money
• Believes that money shouldn’t be important even though it’s something he thinks about a lot
• Money is personal — his bank account is a reflection of his emotional baggage and “issues” and karma
• Believes he needs to do more “personal work” on himself before he can build his business or make his offering to the world
• Making money means he’s taking something away from someone else — “If I’m better off then someone else is worse off.”
• Backs away from a challenge if it involves his professional life
• Dissatisfied – believes he could play at a higher level if he wanted to
• Senses that he’s hiding out
• Feels professionally impotent or lacking power in the world
• Fears he will look like a “sell out” if he tries to create wealth
• Attached to his self-image of being “spiritual” and more evolved than the folks who create financial success
• Has a condescending attitude towards those who want to show up powerfully, create wealth, and play a big game in the world
Again — when I’m unconscious and stuck in my fears I can relate to some of this stuff, too.
As I mentioned the Shallow Success Chaser and The Broke Spiritual Seeker are just two sides of the same fear-based coin. They’re both creative responses to fear so we can feel more safe and secure in an uncertain world. This explains why we can strongly relate to both.
So it makes no sense to debate about which one of these silly archetypes is better than the other. Like a layer of clouds that obscures the immense power of the sun, they’re both a distraction from our Big Self — our Inner Authority. They’re a distraction from our most powerful, creative, and essential qualities.
Still with me? Good. Let’s keep going.
Now, let’s explore what success could look like when it’s not rooted in fear or scarcity. Let’s explore success as a result of doing what has us feel most alive, free, loved, and at peace. Let’s explore success as an expression of our depth and purpose in the world. Let’s see how the ideal of The New Man approaches money and success.
The New Man…
• Embraces depth – emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually
• Finds satisfaction in his work
• Is fully aligned — his work, relationships, lifestyle, and location are all designed to bring out the best in him – they are like the wind at his back instead of something he struggles against
• Sees the big picture of life
• Orients towards fulfillment — he’s actively doing what he was put on this Earth to do
• Has a deep awareness of his programming, his limiting beliefs, and the power of his thinking
• Lives and creates from his Big Self or Inner Authority
• Doesn’t give up his values when it comes to work and money
• Isn’t waiting to bring his best to the world
• Is willing and able to get over himself
• Welcomes challenging and new ways of seeing the world
• Welcomes help from others
• Doesn’t allow achievements to determine his value as a person
• Doesn’t compare himself to others – only to his best self
• Anticipates and finds ways to benefit from adversity
• Chooses to be bold instead of busy
• Values simplicity and spaciousness over “having lots of balls in the air”
• Believes strength means dropping the facade and being willing to reveal what he’s truly thinking, feeling, and wanting
• Believes there is nothing for him to prove
• Appreciates and enjoys what he already has and honors his drive to create more, too
• Follows his curiosity in the face of failure
• Finds ways to be playful in the face of adversity
• Brings an adult mindset to money and business
• Understands that money comes from bettering the lives of others
• Is happiest when lifting other people up
• Says no to drama and draining relationships
• Has an attitude of service – “How can I help?”
• Believes peace is the end game — well being is his true nature instead of something to “strive for”
• Has strong, lasting, meaningful connections with others
• Doesn’t take stuff personally
• Takes action and approaches uncertainty with the attitude of “Let’s dive in and see what happens”
• Believes that he’s playing with the “house’s money” — he’s already won, there’s no need to be so precious
• Connects with his profession on a deep level — it’s not just a job for him
• Knows how to clearly communicate his professional value in the world
• Knows it’s not all about him
• Sees himself as a conduit for the creative force of life
These are just a few qualities that point to an archetype, and there’s no way I’m going to bullshit you and tell you that this is how I live 100% of the time. I don’t know anybody that even comes close.
I’m describing these ideal qualities here because I want you to begin to see another possibility for life and success beyond our fears and habitual programming.
I want you to see that a guy living with this powerful mindset could be a multi-gazillionaire using his vast resources to change the world for the better or the deeply satisfied surf instructor spreading “aloha” and his love for the ocean to others.
From this perspective, the external metrics for success are fluid because success is now being defined by our own internal yardstick.
And we do this by asking ourselves…
– What has us feel most alive, free, loved, and at peace?
– What brings us the greatest sense of satisfaction and meaning?
– And what kind of an impact do we want to have on the world?
Answering these questions honestly and aligning our actions accordingly takes guts. It’s much, much “easier” to simply follow the herd and join the rat race. It’s much easier to look to those around us to figure out what we “should” do. We can play that game in our sleep — as most folks are clearly demonstrating.
As our Big Self — this powerful mindset that isn’t eclipsed by fear — we mindfully determine our orientation to money. Money can now take it’s rightful position as a tool to create the profession and lifestyle that serves our deepest values. Money is now another rewarding exchange for how we make a positive impact on others’ lives. Money is no longer the thing that proves our worth or eclipses our sense of self.
Authority: How to Align Your Work, Lifestyle, and Impact
I hope these ideas have opened up some new possibilities for you. If you’d like to explore how you can align your deeper values with a more expansive definition of success then click here to learn more about the Authority ebook/audiobook program.
Ideas are fine, but applying them to our life and work is where the fun stuff happens. Check out the Authority program to get a sense of what it looks like when the rubber to meets the road.
Enjoy the program and thanks for listening.