Stephen Covey tells the story about a time when he was riding on a train. Across from him was a man with two children. The children were extremely loud and rowdy, and the man appeared to be oblivious to the noise the two children were making.
Finally, Stephen addressed the man and said, “Excuse me, sir, you’re children are making a lot of noise.”
To which the man replied, “I guess you’re right. Their mother just passed away, and I don’t think they know how to deal with it.”
Stephen Covey was hit with a sucker punch as he gained a new perspective of what a struggle this man was going through. Stephen used this story to illustrate the idea of a paradigm shift. Paradigm is a big fancy word that simply means perspective.
Most of our lives are controlled by the perspectives that we have developed over our life. Many factors build our perspectives. Throughout our lives, we will experience events that will educate us on a new, better perspective that opens our world to new possibilities of abundance.
In March, I had the distinct pleasure of listing to a speech that John C. Maxwell gave about the Four Perspectives about possessions and life. As I’ve thought about the speech over the last few months, I realized that his speech provided me with a new and better perspective on the possessions I have in my life.
John Maxwell started by sharing four cause and effect relationships as follows:
- How I do things determines how I do things. My actions today will determine what my actions tomorrow will be.
- What I see is what I will be. The things that I look at now will determine what I will be tomorrow. If I want to be a physician, I will want to look at things that a physician learns, does, and reads.
- When I change the way I look at things, the things I look at change. When I am ungrateful at the things I look in life, I am suspicious of everything that I receive in my life.
- What I believe about my life determines how I perceive life. I used to believe that I had to be perfect. The result of this belief was that I became depressed because perfect was unattainable, and I always was coming up short.
These four cause and effect relationships are intertwined in how we look at money and the role that money plays in our lives.
For my whole life, I have been fascinated by the way people look at money. I’ve seen people that have been successful with money. I’ve watch stories of where people have been evil with money. What I’ve learned is that money is neutral.
Many people have distorted views and beliefs about money. This one statistic shows how a lack of proper perspective about money can limit a person.
More than 75% of people live paycheck to paycheck.
Living paycheck to paycheck is a clear indicator that a person is stuck in a limited perspective about money.
People will continue to live with a faulty perspective of money until they learn a new and better perspective. I’m sharing John Maxwell’s four perspectives about possessions to bring light into a more mature and abundant way to view money in your life.
Perspective 1 – What’s Yours is Mine, and I’m Going to Get It
This is the robber’s perspective. The robber is always looking for ways to get what you have. The robber views money as a scarce resource. Money is a zero-sum game. In order for the robber to get more money, he must steal the money from another person.
The robber’s perspecitve is the most immature perspective about money.
I see this every day in my two year old daughter Zoe. No matter what I have in my hands, Zoe thinks it belongs to her.
She extends her hands toward mine and grabs what is in my possession. As she attempts to steal my possession, she yells out, “Mine!”
I’m astounded that Mine is one of the first words Zoe became proficient at saying.
She has no idea about boundaries. She sees something and immediately believes everything belongs to her.
Over time my wife Angel and I will teach her about possessions. Zoe will learn that she doesn’t own everything. Zoe will learn that people own their possessions.
Zoe will grow up and move to a new and better perspective about possessions.
Perspective 2 – What is Mine is Mine, and I’m Going to Keep It
Every month I like to take each of my children out for a special meal with me. This gives me time to bond individually with each of my children. My son Levi loves to eat at Wendy’s. When we go to Wendy’s, he always gets chicken nuggets and french fries.
In fact, no matter where we go, Levi always orders chicken nuggets and french fries. Consequently, I always know what to order for my son.
I usually order a hamburger and french fries. My son loves to talk to me and tell me stories while we are eating our meal. I love listening to him, so I usually finish my meal before he does.
Once I asked him if I could have one of his chicken nuggets. Levi replied to me, “No, those are my chicken nuggets!”
I was baffled by Levi’s response. He really had no clue about the situation. There were three key things Levi didn’t understand as follows:
- Levi didn’t understand where the chicken nuggets came from. I bought the chicken nuggets for my son.
- Levi didn’t understand that I could take the chicken nuggets away from him. I’m twice as tall as him, and if I wanted to, I could chomp those chicken nuggets down.
- Levi didn’t understand that I didn’t really need his chicken nuggets. I have plenty of money, and I could have just went to the counter and order some more chicken nuggets.
What I wanted from the situation was to share the chicken nuggets with my son. I wanted to see Levi get a positive experience from sharing. Whenever I share with others, I am enriched much more than what I give up when I share.
There’s important lesson to learn from this story.
Selfish people always cheat themselves.
Perspective 3 – What’s Mine is Yours, and I’m Going to Give It
I look back to my twenty years in business, and the one thing I realize is I did not build successful businesses by myself.
A few years ago, I had established a relationship with an attorney named Steve, who prepared tax returns. We were both members of a Rotary Club, and we had many great times as we attended our weekly Rotary meetings.
Steve decided that he wanted to change careers, and he sent me a letter informing me that he was referring all of his tax clients to me.
It was a tremendous gift. Steve gave me an income stream that helped my family and me.
We Americans are a giving country. Every day millions of dollars are donated to causes that help others who are in need.
A few years back, my neighbor Lucas developed cancer. The cancer treatments required that he be live at a hospital 45-minute drive from his home. There was an immense outpouring of support for my neighbor. Everyone pitched in to help Lucas’ family. People gave the family gas cards so his wife could make the daily drive to visit Lucas in the hospital.
We give because we care. We give because we can. We give because we love.
When we don’t give we become hard and cold inside. Giving to others unlocks the beautiful qualities of humanity.
Perspective 4 – What’s Mine is Not Mine, and I’m going to Manage It
The most mature perspective is a perspective of stewardship. We are stewards of money. The money we have never really belongs to us.
Maybe that is why someone once made this profound statement.
You can’t take it with you.
At the end of this life, all our earthly possessions will remain on the earth. When I die, I’ll have amassed a huge fortune of money. My heart will cease to pump, and my soul will leave the flesh.
I could empty my bank account and have all the money deposited into my coffin. The money will simply remain in the coffin until the worms come to devour it.
If the money really belonged to me, I would be able to take it with me.
The perspective of stewardship redirects the way I view money. I have responsibility for the money in my possession.
An important question arises. What will I do with the money?
My actions will tell me what I value.
If I use the money to buy experiences with my family, it demonstrates that I value my family.
If I use the money to lighten another’s burden, it demonstrates that I value helping others.
If I use the money to grow my business, it demonstrates that I believe my business is important to me.
If I use the money to commit a crime, it demonstrates that I value harming others.
If I waste the money on guilty pleasures, it demonstrates that I value those pleasures.
How I use money demonstrates what I view as important.
Money is a tremendous resource. The thing I love about money is it gives us a valuable feedback loop. It is surprisingly easy to see how money is being used. There is simple and inexpensive software that can report to us what I spend money on.
When I take the time to view my spending, I am able to quickly and easily see what I value.
Sometimes I’m pleased with what I value, and sometimes I’m ashamed at what I value.
When I see something I’m ashamed of; I can make a conscious choice on how to redirect my spending.
Take a moment and review the four perspectives about money. Ask yourself the following questions
What perspective of money do I currently have?
What perspective of money do I want to have?
What can I do today to change my perspective of money?