(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

Money (A No Brainer)

Posted on: Mar. 22, 2011  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: Boodle-cise, General
  • You have thirty minutes warning before the tsunami hits, do you leave by car or on foot?
  • You decide to run a marathon barefoot to keep down on the possibility of injury
  • You are approaching burnout from the amount of work you put in for your own business because you just can’t seem to delegate the important stuff
  • You wonder if it’s time to buy in since everyone seems to be making money on investments or you also wonder if it is time to be a contrarian and sell
  • You have waited your whole life to retire but don’t seem to feel the satisfaction and reward that you have earned.

The last three situations above are taken directly from conversations I have with clients around money.  What do each of these dilemmas have in common?  They are about the how, why, and when of making decisions.  How do you solve them?  Here are some of the ways my clients have worked through them and some ways to get through “decision maker’s block:”

  • Change the story,
  • Change the side of your brain,
  • Change to the practical,
  • Challenge your life’s purpose with patience
  • Factor in the social, and
  • Go above and beyond

In the case of the tsunami with the thirty minute warning, those who chose to leave by car were killed while those who went on foot to higher ground were saved.  A fast car seems like the right tool for an answer to the dilemma of “how to do we get out of here?” Unfortunately, the dilemma was “how do we get to higher ground and how long will it take us?”  We cannot look at our choices in a vacuum, especially with money.  Like all decisions, we have to factor in what others are doing too.  We cannot overlook such things as traffic or, in the case of an investment, whether others will be buying or selling regardless of what we think of the investments merit.

It would seem that shoes are there to protect your feet.  Yet, studies have shown that barefoot runners experience fewer injuries.  When running over a rough patch, the barefoot runner is instructed to take on what they are running over by relaxing and absorbing it as their body should be used like suspension shock absorbers.  You are changing the story from foot pain to foot massage.[i]

History and changing our personal history – The cart can pull the horse.  History is our story.  We may think, on one hand, that we cannot do much to change it or, on the other hand, that it is our life’s purpose to try.  Most of us think that outside events make our history.  We work hard, hopefully get a few breaks, try to be in the right place at the right time, and hopefully all this should suffice as a recipe for success.  However, our beliefs in what we can accomplish and who we are affect that very history of how things will play out.  While events are external to our control, how we see ourselves also helps interpret that same history.   This is more than just the Pop Culture references to self-esteem.  If you believe in yourself, you will work hard to grow and move toward where you want to be but if you do not believe, than you just passively wait to confirm who you are and do not put the extra effort out to change that history.  In the first case, you see mistakes as a way to improve your lot and in the latter case mistakes are just part of your own personal history and confirm a lack of ability.  When you are in the sweet zone of an essential purpose, not only do you work hard but you keep your eyes on the prize, meaning you are determined to keep going since the alternative is not acceptable.

One of the key elements in this working-toward-improving-skills perspective, meaning that history is not just fixed, is the understanding that growth occurs in fits and starts.  Similar to how evolution works, a plateau is reached and then we remain at this level for a while until a burst of improvement occurs.  With this understanding is the patience to feel that while things are stagnant it is still worthwhile to keep your resolve.  Another element is that while you are on a quest for perfection, perfection is not possible.   You are a detective on a stakeout where you may see the “perp” but you will not be able to arrest and convict him.  Patience comes more easily when the attempted growth is around an essential purpose.  After all, we do not change purposes just to match how the chips are falling at the time.

While you can think all you want (left-brain) and while you can also react emotionally to money (right-brain), you may have met the enemy and it is you.  To reverse this trend, take your brain out of it and go with the practical.  Find what works and do more of it.  Think of a time when you were in the moment and things were falling into place with money.  If you were working too long, when was there a time when you shortened it a bit?  If you took on most of the work yourself, when was there a time when you delegated more?  What were the circumstances behind that choice to delegate at the time and how can you duplicate them?  Now try and clone that time where you were not “you” anymore and keep working toward being in control and out of control at the same time.  “Be the dollar.”

For managers, investors, and parents, when you think you know more than others, watch out.  When you cannot delegate because you think you know and care more than your employee, what does that do to help your employee to have a rewarding and satisfying work environment?  If you do not keep adding more challenge and more skills to your employees job description then they cannot develop a pride in what they do.  At the same time, you have to work more to make up for what they cannot do.  If you think you have stumbled onto an investment that is unknown and you have figured it out and others have not, the chances are that there are plenty of others out there you are not aware of and, even so, in order to make money you have to have others buying in as well.  In most situations, if an investment works, there are factors that you had no idea would work in your favor or factors may come after your initial analysis.  When there are millions of transactions involved, what works and why it works is too complex to even understand or detect.  What’s even worse is that when you are buoyed by success, the chances are that you will be overconfident and assume that history will repeat itself.  We can only hope you have diversified the risk and not put all your stakes on one race.  As for parents, the same holds true for raising your children, without giving them more and more autonomy, they do not become independent and learn to master the skills they need to make good decisions.

It is this same type of mastery, challenge, and improvement that makes a good career so worthwhile.  Many retirees forget that leisure does not provide this set of traits and they feel that something is missing.  The trick is to make leisure work like work.   You can add the challenge of learning new skills and hobbies or you can join new social groups or causes.  For some, this may be volunteerism, caring for others, mentoring others, or just continuing to work part time.

Money is tied to great purpose and meaning.  It can be treated, understood, and appreciated as more than just being left-brained or right-brained but can also bring us to a transcendent level.  You can think of it as no-brained (although some would argue that higher meaning is right-brained).  When money is just looked at as separate from the social world, such as work and home life, or as some external token we just earn and spend, we lose the internal rewards that go with it.  Treat money with respect.  It may be an illusion but it is our illusion that can be improved and made better.  This is money’s history.  You don’t own money.  You can make the world a better place by using it with honor.  Make a deposit to the world before you go.  Keep its energy, and like in physics, you cannot destroy or create it.  Use it but you gotta give it back.

One of the exercises we have around money is to do a riff on money or think of all the things that come to mind about money for a specific period of time.  This post is a result of doing that exercise again.

[i] From a story in The Los Angeles Times by Melissa Rohlin “Barefoot runner ready to put her soles on the line in marathon” March 19, 2011

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