October 2, 2009

A Truth About Money

Seek after money and security
And your heart will never unclench.
– Lao Tse

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Angela said. “I haven’t had a job in six months. I need money to live.”

I’ve listened to variations on this theme over the past year. People generally go on to ask for my help in finding ways to get more money. The paradox is that you cannot get money if what you do is seek ways to get it.

Fact: Money isn’t something you go out and get.

I know how odd that may sound. When you’re unemployed — and I have been — there’s an insistent coldness that sits in the belly. We fixate on that frigid hunger, convinced that we have to go out and get what we need.

As though money were a fix, and we were addicts.

What I discovered, once I wore myself out with “trying to find the right job — or any job,” was that money never came to me when I went looking for it.

Money came to me whenever I sought to be of service to others.

Money, you see, is the measure of the value you deliver to other people by being of service to them. The more they value what you do, the more money they are willing to trade for it. This mutual exchange of value works quite well. It is how commerce has been successfully conducted for thousands of years.

Where most of us get stuck is in misidentifying money as value.

The truth is that we must engage the world in service if we are to be served in return. In other words, to create income requires that a person create something of value that fulfills the desire of others.

Note that I do not talk about “fulfilling need.” People pay for what they want, not for what they need.

We survive and thrive by participating in this cycle of beneficial value exchange. Mutual Assured Prosperity comes from faith, focus, full-spectrum engagement with the world, and helping others get what they want.

As soon as I turn my focus away from serving, money stops flowing. Make up whatever “law” you like to explain it, but this is practical fact.

When I focus on identifying what others want, and discover what I can naturally do to fulfill that want, opportunities open for me that I could never have predicted.

What happened to Angela? Like most of us, she struggled for awhile. The day came, though, that she got the message of service. Within a week of her shift in attitude she was once again employed. Is that coincidence? No — I’ve watched it happen many times, and it’s happened to me.

It will happen to you, too.

Listen to what people want. Find the wants you instinctively know how to fill. Fulfill those wants as effectively and as inoffensively as possible.

Watch your life change.

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