Saturday, September 13, 2008

Money in Business: The Solution to the Pain is In The Pain

I've been participating in an interesting discussion on the Small Business Trends blog on undercharging for services. John Jantch (Duct Tape Marketing) started it off.

What is so interesting is that there is more inner emotion leaking out on this topic than just about any other one I've seen. Just about no one feels comfortable with money! And the issues aren't really about money -- they are about self-worth. Discomfort with asking for what you want, discomfort in having enough, you name it.

These are normal human emotions! But when you are the business owner, normal human emotions can have unpleasant financial consequences. For most of us, becoming the CEO of our own financial life will require some work on our own selves and beliefs around money.

The great Sufi philosopher and poet Rumi is primarily known for his ecstatic poetry, but he also wrote this line which I woke up thinking about: The answer to the pain is in the pain.

What that says to me is to face into money directly. Changing the focus to a question of self-worth takes the sting out of the question, but also takes away the power of the answer.

What is it about money that makes it so difficult? I think it is because money is so finite. Either you have it or you don't. Either you can pay for the life you want or you can't. Lots of us like to straddle the fence, and work toward the life or business we want. It is terrifying, painful, embarassing, makes us sweat, to really look at how we are doing, to look at numbers that quantify our progress and nail our truth to the wall.

That is the pain Rumi talks about. It's not just about money -- it is about whether we are actually living the life we want. And as long as we skirt this issue, we live in a cloud of potential and possibility while our reality is something else.

Sometimes when we face unpleasantness, it feels like sinking into an abyss. But that is not what Rumi promises -- the answer to the pain can only be found by looking at the pain, as gently as possible. Your answer and my answer and someone else's answers are ours alone.

Emotions tied to money are surprisingly powerful. When you have a job, when someone else determines the financial box in which you live your life, you can skirt taking a look at them. But when you are the CEO -- you create your own parameters. Unexamined emotion about money can keep you boxed in. And looking at those emotions -- just gazing -- often is enough to start opening up a door to whole new financial world.

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