September 08, 2023 by Coach Training EDU
In Coaching to Flourish #088, guest host John Andrew Williams brings us on an exploration of the book ‘The Soul of Money’ by Lynne Twist. This book provides a lens through which to investigate our assumptions, the role that money plays in our life, and money’s relationship to broader life narratives. Join us for this lively book club discussion!
John Andrew Williams: Welcome to the Coaching and Flourish podcast, everyone. I am your host holding it down, I guess guest host holding it down, for Raj. She's out on vacation, she'll be back next week. Looking forward to that. And in the meantime, I have another book to review. And this one is ‘The Soul of Money’ by Lynne Twist. This one was recommended to me recently by Brittany McDonald, and she's on staff, she is our new enrollment person. And it's been going swimmingly well, super psyched.
Very excited about the opportunity to look at some of the core aspects of building a business. And one of those biggest aspects of that is money. Now everyone has a relationship to it, it's one of the things that evokes a lot of emotion. And this book opens up with this amazing scene that she sets, where Lynne Twist, she was doing some work with first Nation people, people living in the Amazon. And this idea that, in their first contact with outside people, there was a huge distinction between their culture, which did not rely on money, which was based in sufficiency idea, that people helped each other out. If someone needed a house, the community came together to build the house. If someone was successful in the hunt, the community ate. It was community based.
And so when these people had contact with the outside and everything was around money, she had the opportunity to see what's it like. What's it like to grow up where there's no awareness of money, to be in contact with culture where money is everywhere, and what this looks like. So even that opening to me, as soon as I read that, I thought, this book is going to be amazing. And it did not disappoint.
So just from that introductory chapter, this idea of even looking and becoming curious about - what is your relationship to money? And to first recognize that, we as human beings, money is an invention. It's something that we use, it's a tool. And just like any tool it can be used for really helpful things, and it can be used for not so helpful things. So to get into it, that's what we're gonna be looking at today, is a short, short, brief little walk through this book, and a few of my main key takeaways with some questions, is what we're gonna be looking at in the next 20-some minutes.
So here we go. Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. First thing here, I wanna read to you a couple paragraphs of this, and then we'll stop and have some coaching questions for you.
First one. “Whether we look at money in the context of our personal or family lives, the workplace, or in the health and welfare of nations, the same picture emerges. Money is the most universally motivating, mischievous, miraculous, maligned, and misunderstood part of contemporary life.”
Okay, so here we go. Coaching question number one - and we're just gonna use each of these beautiful adjectives as our coaching question launching points. ‘How is money motivating to you?’ Question mark. Give you a couple seconds to think about it, myself included. How is money motivating? Both towards, gaining more of it and then trying to save more of it, or whatever that means for you. Money is motivating. How is it motivating?
Next question. How is money mischievous? In your life, how is money mischievous? It's a fun one.
Next question. How is money miraculous? How is money miraculous in your life?
Next one. How is money maligned in your life? How have you maligned money? These are fun.
And one of the things about coaching that I really, truly, deeply love, and I have to with full transparency say, I just had a coaching session this morning. It was amazing. Like seriously amazing. And there are times in my life when I have more coaching sessions, and you know, coaches move on and different things happen. The current coach I'm working with is amazing, and I have to say, if you're not being coached, if you don't have a coach, you need get one. Get a certified life coach, like at least once a month. It makes a difference.
When you're in that space, I think for me, like what I'm experiencing, what's really common when people are coached on a regular basis, is you start to be able to process things. Like these kind of questions, like the questions I'm asking right now. You're able to process and think about, what does this really mean in my life? Where does this really go? How can I process this with the curiosity of another human being, and then get to get an insight?
And that insight is so valuable that it takes whatever challenge, whatever situation you have working on in your life, it uses that challenge and situation to generate learning. And it's in the generation of learning that provides the value, especially around money. So if you're looking at this idea of, how can money generate learning in your life, and what's the value of that learning?
Last one on this one is, how is money a misunderstood part of your life? How is money misunderstood?
When you ask yourself these questions, notice where your mind goes. Notice how it starts to find, your brain starts to look for different examples of this, you know, counter, for and against. It's the way that our minds operate. Our minds are extremely quick to make associations between one thing and the next. It's only our effort-ful mind system, two minds, that put together that meaning, that contemplate, that have to put in the effort of, okay, so how do I put words to this vapor I'm feeling? You know, this vapor idea. How can I make it tangible, something I can hold onto?
We're on the same page? Next question about money. So, how is money? “Money is the most universally motivating, mischievous, miraculous, maligned, and misunderstood part of contemporary life.” Next set of questions. Next part here. Love my sticky notes. Okay, I got a bunch of 'em on this one.
Okay, so next paragraph, I'm on page 19. “You have to look closely to find the money thread in your own story.” Sure. And the idea of a money thread is one of Lynne Twist’s, like what she's talking about is, because money is so everywhere. You know, everything that you have, you've payed money for. It's this idea that we're literally fish swimming in water when it comes to, we're humans swimming in financial awareness. So when you can start to see your particular thread or your particular narrative of it, even the uncomfortability of even talking about it, that has narrative. That has meaning. That has something that we can unpack. So we're going to unpack some of these things here.
“You may have to look closely to find the money thread in your own story, but it is there and it has meaning.” Agreed. “You can begin the process of examination and transform the mystery of money, and the field of play that money represents, into a different kind of space.” This is not work for the faint of heart. I feel like this is some of the most important work that human beings can do, especially when you look at all the narratives that you gather from your parents, from your early childhood, from things that have happened at different times.
Everyone has a different narrative around money. Even those who grew up with a lot of money, they still have challenges around it, because money could have been used as a tool for control, or it could be used as something that provided some sort of self-worth in some ways, but then if you lose it, if you have it - these narratives can run deep and can cut pretty deep as well.
Let's continue, but we're, we're in the space. And this is the sentence that just blew my mind that I really wanna share with you. “Your relationship with money can be a place where you bring your strengths and skills, your highest aspirations, and your deepest and most profound qualities.” So then the question is this: How can you use your relationship with money, your relationship with this measure of value, how can you use it to bring out your greatest strengths? That's a cool question. Bring your strengths and skills and your highest aspirations. How can you bring your highest aspirations?
So the flip of it, where this whole thing flips, is a lot of people have a high aspiration to earn money, right? Like, I aspire to this, or I want that. But then, what happens when it's flipped? When this is what I want to do, how can I use money as a tool? How can my highest aspiration be served with the tool of money, not my highest aspiration is the money. You feel a difference?
And the difference, it shows up, when you're trying to build a coaching practice or when you're trying to do anything entrepreneurship wise. Because there's always this, I am starting this because I want to make X amount of money, or I want this to be my lifestyle, or I need this amount to feel secure. And when that starts to shift, and you start to think, I want to make this kind of difference in the world. This is what I want to see come into existence for myself and for other people. I have experienced life and I know this is a very cool thing, I think this thing has value, I think the world needs more of this. How can money be a tool to make that happen? Those are very different kinds of questions.
When you find yourself as an entrepreneur, someone who's taking those leaps and has to go out and really do the thing, you're in for it. You're in for that scary part of, well what if it doesn't happen? What if we don't get the clients to come in the door? What if I, you know, all the what-if’s. What if the bills start to stack up? What if we only have this? That ‘what if’ is the work of entrepreneurship.
And when you start asking yourself the question, how can my highest aspiration be served, as money as a tool, it for me, it takes some of the emotionality out of, I need this to feel safe. It shifts it to, I need this to be a tool and a vehicle for me to get where I need to go. Where this organization needs to get, where it needs to go, in order to accomplish the good that I know that this kind of work is capable of accomplishing. When you get to that point where, I need the money to be a tool to accomplish this greater good, that's when you know you're in solid territory.
Final sentence of this paragraph: “Whether we are millionaires or dollar-eirs, we can actually be great with our money and be great in our relationship with it.” How can you be great in your relationship with money? It's such a sweet question.
Next paragraph. How are we doing? Do I have any questions? Let me check the chat and just make sure if there are any questions happening. Okay, good. Good to go.
Here we go. This one has to deal with your life's work. And when I read this, I thought, this is a really cool section of this place. And I mean, do your life's work, to me it just means the idea of finding your calling, listening to that calling, and taking the leaps to do that calling. And you know you're in the right space when you're doing the work and you feel like you were born to do this work. When you feel so engaged where you feel the push and pull of the successes and the failures, and you're willing to accept both of them because you know you're onto something bigger. And if you just keep moving forward and putting in effort, then good things are going to happen. This is part of what she's talking about, in doing your life's work.
And so to set the scene on this, Lynne Twist goes to India, meets with Mother Teresa. Lynne was part, she was working to end world hunger. She has a meeting with Mother Teresa. She's in there, and in walk two very wealthy people, who were rude to Mother Teresa, rude to Lynne. And Mother Teresa, didn't phase her at all.
Here we get back, and this is what Mother Teresa says to Lynne, after this exchange where two very wealthy people feel like - Lynne felt wronged by these two very wealthy people. Mother Teresa says, “You must open your heart to even them, and become the student and their teacher.” She said in her letter, “Open your compassion and include them. This is an important part of your life's work. Do not shut them out. They are also part of your work.” That’s amazing. It's amazing. You cannot assume that even wealthy people have, who, you know, that their relationship with money or their relationship with life is somehow magically transformed, or they live constantly over the rainbow. They even need compassion too. That takes some sitting with.
I think what it is, is, and this pans out in positive psychology study after positive psychology study, is that even having a lot of money doesn't necessarily mean that you have a lot of happiness. There can still be a lot of misery. And what human beings are really truly after, we’re after connection. We're after, the people we love, the people who are close to us, we're after them thriving and flourishing.
When human beings experience that, when we are in community of that, that is fulfillment. That is enough. That is enoughness. And this idea of ‘enoughness’ has been a word that, has been my word, the one from 2023. In this enoughness, when you look at the relationships you have in your life, those are the priceless ones. Those are the things you cannot buy. And when you ask yourself, what are the things that money cannot buy in your life? How much, how many things do you have that money can't buy in your life? That might very well be a, if we were to create an algorithm for your life happiness and satisfaction, that might be one of the key drivers.
Next paragraph. So, we’re on page 39, little nugget here. She's talking about how she was fundraising for to end world hunger, and how for her, something important shifted when she started really getting into asking people for money, and what that really felt like. She has this sentence here. “So rather than feeling that fundraising was a matter of twisting arms for donation, or playing on emotions to manipulate money from contributors, it became for me an arena in which I was able to create an opportunity for people to engage in their greatness.” Okay, read the last part again. “Fundraising became, for me, an arena in which I was able to create an opportunity for people to engage with their greatness.”
Unpacking this. The word arena, first off, it's a Latin word, it means sand. And this idea of arena is, it's a thing. When you put yourself out there, when you're doing anything that requires, you know, success and failure, you're putting yourself into the arena. And the arena is a very public space of success and failure. I often think of the Colosseum in Rome, this idea of sand, like going out there and sand and a crowd all around you.
No matter what you're doing, wherever you are, you have different arenas in your life where you're playing with success and failure. This idea here, that she's choosing her job, her calling, to be an arena, she's stepping into the arena. And here, her job in this arena is to create an opportunity for people to engage in their greatness.
So it's the idea of, instead of asking you for a donation, I am going to create an opportunity for you to align your giving with your values. That might be one of the, you know, salesperson tacticals. You know, are we being really sneaky in how we strategically align this with what we're talking about? That might be one of the best reframes ever. Like, let me just shift and get in there. However, she's right. That's what she's doing. She's giving people an opportunity to align their values, what they say they truly wanna be with, what they, in their soul, what their soul wants to see in this world, she's giving people an opportunity to bring that more into alignment. What a cool way of seeing your job. And the way we see our jobs really matters in how we interact with them.
So the question is, how are you doing with opportunities to align your soul with your giving, with the way that you're directing your dollars?
How are we doing everyone? Got a couple more, and then we're gonna finish this out.
So much coaching relies on people exploring, looking at the differences between one definition and another definition, and asking themselves, what is the opposite? And she goes into a number of treatments on looking at scarcity, and how that shows up in our own lives, in the lives of other people, how a lot of people who have a scarcity mindset around money, how that shows up. And it's very similar to having a fixed mindset, or having a lack mentality. It's something that I think a lot of people inherit. Some people feel it, some people have very challenging upbringings that have reinforced it over and over again.
And what she's saying is when you're looking at the opposite of lack or of scarcity, her suggestion is that it's not as useful to think of that as abundance. You know, the opposite as abundance, as having too much or having an overflowing-ness. She's saying, the opposite of scarcity is actually sufficiency.
From a coaching standpoint, this is a contextual opposite. So let's say, a surface opposite might be, if you're looking at the opposite of up, the surface opposite is down. Meaning that it's this thing that, if you're not changing the context, then whatever the opposite is within that context, that's the opposite. This is what we learn in elementary school, or in younger years.
But when you're looking at what is the contextual opposite, it's what is the opposite if you're completely changing the frame? And so the opposite, the contextual opposite of scarcity is sufficiency. It's a complete change of the context in which you're looking at the world. It's a complete perspective shift.
So instead of looking at the dichotomy, the duality of scarcity/abundance, like not enough/too much, what sufficiency does is it steps out of there and says, no. The opposite of scarcity is actually completeness. It's sufficiency. It doesn't even have to do with the amount of what you have. It's a state of being on your relationship to the present moment. It's a complete contextual shift.
Now these kinds of things, and you can map this out in the life coaching world, and you can get really very specific and clear on that internal world, where you are at with it. I'm gonna read you this paragraph here and ask you a couple of coaching questions that I think will help, and they've helped me, look at how we can bring more of this contextual type of thinking to the problems and situations that you have at hand.
Here's the paragraph, here's a couple questions, and then we'll wrap this up. “Sufficiency, reclaiming the power of what is there. We each have the choice, in any setting, to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don't mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn't two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance.” It's a complete perspective shift. “It isn't a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn't an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate. A declaration knowing that there is enough and that we are enough.”
So my question, the final question is, how can you transform your relationship with money to know that you are enough?
It's been a lovely book, a lovely read. And I do recommend this one. I think it's one that, I think really brings a mindfulness and wisdom to a topic that often carries a lot of challenging narratives. It’s one of the things that as a society, we don't talk that openly about in ways that are constructive and curious and vulnerable. And this is, it's a beautiful book.
Thank you for spending some of your day with me and this exploration, this mindful exploration of different topics that, as coaches, as entrepreneurs, as people who are out there working with people who are on the cutting edge of communication, technology, and human technology, how we interact as humans and exploring that inner geography and emotional thought space, thank you. Thank you for being a part of this.
And hope to see you next week, where Raj and I are back again doing more Q&A style. Hope you enjoyed these past two weeks and hope to see you soon. Bye.
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