Category Archives: Money & Emotion

The Perfection Trap

It seems like it’s everywhere these days: People seem to expect to just magically be perfect at something without practice or study.  I don’t really know what’s behind it—or even if I’m just noticing it because I have several clients who expect themselves to be perfect right ‘out of the chute’.

What I do know is that it’s not only a futile endeavor but a trap.  It’s one of those handy tools that our Inner Critic voice uses.  You have heard me speak of that, and I will continue to do so.  Frankly, I think helping people to stop giving their Inner Critics ‘air time‘ is one of the most important things I do… whether it’s about money or not.  This perfection thing is just another diversion in the Critic’s Toolkit.

Somehow many of us feel like we are supposed to be able to be perfect without practice or effort.  I beg to differ with that.  Even the things that we are ‘good‘ at, or have some innate talent for, require practice, enhancement, care—or we either lose them or they get stale.

This desire to be instantly successful and perfect at something is everywhere in our lives.  We should just know how to write a blog, cook a great meal, play an instrument, or manage our money, right?  Um, no.  All those things and many more take practice—lots of practice.

It’s not even just a matter of patience.  It seems to be more about expectations.  We expect that we will magically be able to do something without struggle or effort.

One side of my family was full of artists, and I do some art myself.  Art is a particularly good example of a skill where you have to give yourself the time and patience to fail, experiment, and just mess up.

Long ago I was taking a beginning drawing class at a local college.  A young guy in his twenties had the easel next to me.  We were doing some kind of sketching, I don’t remember the actual objects.  What I do remember is that he kept drawing a bit and then wadding the paper up and throwing it on the floor.  There were grunts, gnashing, and colorful language that accompanied this endeavor.  The instructor noticed the pile and came over to talk to him.  I both love and agree wholeheartedly with what she told him.  She explained that every art piece goes through a very ugly stage where you just want to rip it up and start over.  I was delighted to hear that because I thought I was the only person who had that problem!  She also said that you just have to keep working at it and get past it.  It’s part of the process.

Along the same line, I recently read an article in Artist’s Magazine about starting a drawing practice.  The article, by Danny Gregory, had a box in the corner titled:  NOTE TO SELF which included these points:

  1. Never compare yourself to other artists… Let their progress inspire, but not intimidate, you…
  2. You’re making more progress than you think you are.  You may not see it, but it’s happening…
  3. Everyone struggles at the beginning… the struggle is normal, inevitable… and a positive sign that you are working through things.

I have several clients who feel like when they take a class to learn something new they have to do things well from the very beginning.  Maybe that comes from competition in school or the need to get good grades to meet family or cultural expectations, but it is not an effective method of learning something new as an adult.  What that idea is really good at is keeping you from even trying to learn something new or improve how you do things.  It distracts you from engaging, and that is a shame.  It’s a Perfection Trap, and none of us want to end up in a trap.

The real question is:  How would your life be different if you allowed yourself to be messy, awkward, and nowhere near perfect?  And even more radical, what if you could think of doing that as the ‘perfect’ way to be?  Give it a try!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want some help getting out of the Perfection Trap?  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

The In-crowd and Money

Remember your teenage years?  It seems to me that Junior High, which is today’s Middle School, was where it really became clear.  There were the cool kids, the in-crowd, and there were the rest of us.  Most of us weren’t in the in-crowd.  That’s part of the value of a clique: exclusivity.  There were different forms of cliques.  Some were for the athletic types, some for the nerds.  Tough kids, surfers, hippies — all had their own groups with specific rules around dress, language, and behavior.  They worked hard to stay in their group and to exclude others.  Without excluding others there isn’t anything to feel special about.

Many of us didn’t meet the criteria.  We weren’t good enough for whatever reason.  We weren’t pretty, or thin enough.  We weren’t smart enough—or were too smart.  We didn’t have the right clothes.  It hurt and made us feel ‘less than’.

This is not new for humans.  We have been doing it forever.  And the solution is in a very old fairy tale:  ‘The Ugly Duckling’ written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1843.  You all know the story, and the point was and remains to be — stop hanging out with ducks!  Go where you are appreciated.

Now there is a particular reason I’m bringing this up.  I’ve noticed over the years that many of my clients get Money tangled up in this ‘do I belong’ conundrum.  It goes something like this:

  • If I was rich I could fit in with the ‘in-crowd’
  • I’m jealous and envious of those who have more than I do
  • It’s not fair that I don’t have more money
  • I messed up because I didn’t save when I was young, or get a degree, or…
  • I feel like I’m always being judged as ‘less than’ others

Somehow we make up that it’s all about money.  Money is the problem.  It caused it.  I don’t have it.  On and on it goes.  And here’s the rub.  Yes, money may be a factor in this tangle, but not in the way people think.  You may be tired of hearing it, and here it is again:  “Money is reflective, not causative!”  You made choices, some good, some not so good.  And sad to say, you may still be stuck in those choices.  Going over them and over them.  Letting them consume you.

This idea of making it all about money is a giant distraction!  It keeps you from living your life now.  It has you trying to fit into places you likely won’t like when you get there.  It’s the Duck/Swan thing again.  I remember once putting an offer down on a house in a particular neighborhood.  I had this weird thought in my head.  It went like this:  “If I lived in this neighborhood I’d have to put on make-up to get the mail!”  I liked the house, the price was fine, yet it didn’t feel right.  I was not going to be with my peeps if I lived there.  Luckily there turned out to be a siding issue that had us not buy the house.

The thing that has you not be in with the ‘cool kids’ is not money—really!  And if you keep thinking it is, and fussing with it around money, you will just keep spinning in circles.

The problem is that the real issue is harder to deal with.  It’s what’s under the money stuff, and it’s likely about your own feelings of ‘worth’.  It takes courage and fortitude to dig in there, but it’s well worth it.

I’ve recently been on my own journey around this tangle about ‘where do I fit’ and realized that I was hanging around with people who were not nice to me, and I was trying hard to get them to like me.  Finally, I figured out that they just weren’t my peeps!  I set some new boundaries and am hanging with swans instead!  And there is a huge weight off my heart and soul.  See, hanging around with other swans is easy.  They laugh at your jokes, they like you, they respect you… you can be yourself.

Please give yourself the gift of hanging with your own particular in-crowd!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want some help getting out of this tangle? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Hemlines Affecting the Market?

That was the theory that Julie Newmar suggested on the Dick Cavett Show I watched recently.  Granted, the show originally aired on February 4, 1971, but it’s not as crazy as you might think.

The stock market is having some ups and downs now.  We all know that has happened many times in history.  Loads of people make a living studying the trends and data.  They make predictions based on all sorts of criteria.  Some of them come true, some don’t.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying their research and opinions are not valid.  It’s just that there is an overriding factor that has always affected the ‘Market’, and always will, that many of them are stepping over.

I was thrilled when Alan Greenspan, Chair of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, actually said it.  Here’s the quote:

  • ‘Fear and euphoria are dominant forces, and fear is many multiples the size of euphoria. Bubbles go up very slowly as euphoria builds. Then fear hits, and it comes down very sharply. When I started to look at that, I was sort of intellectually shocked. Contagion is a critical phenomenon which causes the thing to fall apart.’

Simplifying what he is saying:  The Stock Market is based on emotion! and being the analytical guy that he is, he was shocked to discover the impact of emotion on money.  You won’t be surprised to find out: I’m not.

Let’s get back to Julie Newmar — For those too young to know, Julie Newmar was Catwoman on the campy Batman television show of the mid 1960s.  And she did a great job of pleading her case.  It was quite fun.  Danny Kaye, a screenwriter, and a doctor were the other guests.  Kaye was the only one that tried to pull the attention away from Julie.  That wasn’t going to work.  She was dynamic, savvy, and dressed for the part — including ‘hotpants’.  She brought up the concept of how the Market and hemlines were tied together.  Her perspective was that hemlines had an effect on the market.  You see when hemlines go down the market is calm and steady, and when they go up it gets volatile.  Is this a chicken/egg thing?  I don’t think so.  I do think that the actions of the Stock Market and the hemlines are reflective of and a response to the emotional tenor of the time.

The truth is that the thing which most strongly affects money is emotion, and Julie Newmar had that figured out in the early 1970s. That hasn’t changed.  And now, more than ever, emotions are high and on edge.

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride” – All About Eve (1950)

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you need a bit untangling your hemline issues give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Stress is Sneaky

It’s not one thing that creates stress… it’s a whole bunch of things that build up.  Little things that pile on until we are over our edge.

Right now, the world is mired in all sorts of concerns.  We all are feeling it.  Climate change—which they just should have called Global Weirding and no one would have debated it!  The mass shooting of innocent people.  The Stock Market in a tizzy.  Too many to mention. It’s way capable of frazzling our nerves!

But of course, there is also whatever your triggers are!  Little things like health, making money, relationships, the car breaking down.  ‘Tis never-ending!

The real problem for us all is that our biology is behind the times.  It hasn’t caught up and probably won’t, based on the speed of change these days.  Our bodies evolved to use ‘stress’ as a way of getting our attention and focus when bad things were about to happen.  Things like a lion or a pack of hyenas running toward us.  One of the evolutionary fixes for coping with danger is the fight-or-flight response, a physiological reaction to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.

To simplify the result let’s just say we go into hyperdrive.  The “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson” alerts kick in and carry us away.  There are all sorts of things going on in our bodies and minds, not the least of which is we lose our peripheral vision, and can’t hear—which explains why when in an argument you often find someone saying: “Don’t you hear me?” Actually, they don’t, and they won’t until they have calmed down which will take between 20 to 60 minutes after they have stopped stressing.

This has been going on for quite a while.  In 1910 Rudyard Kipling  wrote the poem “If”, which started with “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”  So it’s not new.

The real point is how do we manage the stress?  How do we keep the deep mire of it from sneaking up on us?   There are so many stress factors bombarding us every day that it is prudent to get ahead of it.  Don’t wait!  Create your own pockets of peace now!

There are all sorts of ways to build your capacity for dealing with the vast, never-ending triggers we experience every day.  In my search for balance, it’s the little things that are the most effective for me.  I’m being purposeful in creating what I call “Pockets of Peace”.   Some examples I’ve been trying include:

  • Time swimming—being in the quiet of the water
  • Muting the ‘ads’ on the TV—otherwise thought of as ‘limiting white noise’
  • Reading books that take me away, and are NOT scary
  • Petting the ‘purr machine’—otherwise known as the cat

There are lots and lots of possibilities.  There are only two things to keep in mind:

  1. Have some techniques that work for your own stress reduction in the moment
  2. Have some everyday practices that build calm and peace as a preventative measure

Unfortunately, we can’t actually eliminate stress, what we can do is make choices about how we handle and manage it!  Find the ones that work for you… it’s crucial, especially now!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you need a bit of support finding those pockets of peace give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Fixin’ To?

It’s an old Texas term that most of us have heard, and many of us have used. Fixin’ To‘ is similar to ‘trying’ in its effectiveness.  The question really is “How to get out of the Fixin’ To stage and into the actual doing things stage?”  And like most things, changing your thinking can make all the difference.

Let’s explore a different way to get results, shall we?  You’ve all heard of the Law of Attraction.  Near as I can tell it was originally a Hindu concept, or possibly even older than that.  More recently it has become a “New Age” mainstay with the use of the equation: Intention + Attention = Manifestation.  First let’s move that into clearer language: something like “Dreams, Desires, Goals,” even Fixin’ To for the Intention part.  Frankly the simple word for the Attention part is Action.  And finally manifestation comes down to Results.

Now, hang on.  I’m fixin’ to play with the math a bit.  I think of Laws of Nature like Gravity as working whether or not we believe in them.  Frankly I’ve been having this ‘conversation’ with Gravity for years, asking it to lighten up a bit… but does Gravity even listen to me?  Nope!  I think the Law of Attraction equation works that way too, except I—being a numbers person—want to change it just slightly, from addition to multiplication.  What the equation is really saying is that you need both Desire (Being) and Action (Doing) to create a Result, and math-wise, a multiplication sign makes more sense to me.  If I’ve got only one of the elements without the other it’s like multiplying by zero and the result of that is zero!  Wow!  Math can be helpful.

So the bottom line is that Fixin’ To doesn’t get you off the couch.  Actions do.  And for those actions to be effective you need to be clear about what you want.

One thing I know for sure, is that when you or I get wonky results it’s because we are missing one of those two elements in the math problem!

Fixin’ To is a good step, it’s just needs a partner like action. How about aligning the two together?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Fixin’ to change your money thinking?  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Training Your Brain

It’s one of those things that happens whether you are conscious of it or not: your brain gets trained.  Most of us have heard something about this, the way our brains store information in groups of neurons firing together.  Thus all the information about a particular thing is tucked in the same pile.  That just happens.  The question is how can you use that to your advantage?

I had somewhat of an epiphany about this recently watching a favorite movie with someone who had never seen it.  The film was ‘Cat Ballou‘, the 1965 western romp with a very young Jane Fonda, a wild and inebriated Lee Marvin, and Nate King Cole and Stubby Kaye as narrating  balladeers!  I hadn’t seen it in years.

The moment it started I was flooded with memories.  I remembered sitting in the Wyo Theatre in Sheridan, Wyoming seeing it several times as it played that summer.  I spent many summers in Wyoming with Cup Cake, my grandmother.  She worked at a furniture store; she’d take me with her to the store, and I’d help her.  When she got busy I’d wander the town or go to the movies.

Since I saw the movie several times in the week that it ran, it’s a strong memory.  I even remembered that Lee Marvin won an Oscar for it.  As we watched I could smell the popcorn.  I knew every bit of dialog and every shot.  This was a really impactrul memory, and it was securely tucked there in my brain.  I didn’t actually call it forward—it came on its own.  The main difference between how my brain built this memory and others was that I saw the film a bunch of times close together.

Since we know our brains work this way, we could purposely and specifically ‘train’ them to build strength in areas that are desirable.  Actually, we already do that, right?  We learn things.  We practice.  We gather data.  We do that about all sorts of things… except for money!

Actually we do unconsciously train our brains about money… it’s just that most of the training is negative.  It’s about things that happened with money in our childhoods.  It’s about arguments around money.  It’s about many situations where money was present in the mix, but probably not the actual cause of the problem.

We all need money to survive in our culture, and at some level most of us want it.  It seems to me that it’s a lot easier to acquire and deal with something you like and understand than a mysterious thing you find scary and incomprehensible.  So why not change that?

Change truly results from creating those groups of neurons firing together.  How can you create some new groups—and stop adding more to the old ones—around money?  What might be different if that happened?  You’ve developed memory and expertise around all sorts of things in your life… why not give training your brain around money a go?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want to chat about how to re-train your money brain? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Follow the Money

We’ve all watched and enjoyed mysteries, and one of the tried-and-true adages of a mystery is: Follow the Money.  In the case of a mystery it has to do with motive.  But where else does Follow the Money ring true?

Actually, Follow The Money applies almost anywhere.  In most instances, money is reflective, not causative.  It points to the issues and problems.  It marks and reports them.  It doesn’t create them.

Wait, what?!  Money doesn’t create problems?  No, it doesn’t.  What we choose to do or not do with money creates the problems, not the actual money itself.  Money doesn’t have free will or volition.  It goes where you tell it to.  It gets used and spent and earned and saved strictly by the actions of people.

All money can really do is tell you what happened.

And it does a really good job of that.  And it certainly does it in more circumstances than we tend to initially realize.  Let’s look at where money talks and tells.

Business:  This one is pretty obvious.  Looking at a company’s financial statements tells you what’s going on in the company.  The way I look at those statements goes deeper than just the sales and expenses though.

For me, the money in a company tells me where the people issues are.  If all the employees in one department are complaining about not being paid enough, that tells me something.  It tells me something is going on in that department that needs to be addressed.  The money is reflective.  If people aren’t paying the company on time, that says something too; it may be about the invoices going out too late, about the product not being right, or about a lax follow-up procedure.

The money can be talking about a lot of different things, but it is certainly reflecting information.

Personal: I also think money is reflective in our personal lives.  What does your money say about you?  Where do you spend it?  What kind of attention do you pay to it?  What is it reflecting?  If you really look at your money, you can learn a lot.

I once worked with someone who said they had money all over the house, tucked here and there.  They didn’t really know where it was.  They didn’t know how much they had.  That’s a reflection of this person’s money perspective.  The fact that the money is all over, and not “organized” is reflective of something.  Follow that money mystery and you’ll get somewhere interesting, somewhere important.

Sometimes following the personal money leads to some pretty predictable places.  The money might go toward a collection, it might go for a child’s education, it might go for a car.  It is most likely to reflect the person’s interests and passions.  It also will reflect the person’s money prejudices—those beliefs they fund without even knowing it.  It might go to buy everything “on sale” because that’s just what you are supposed to do.  Or it might buy jewelry because it makes you feel good.  Where ever it goes, there’s some meaning or symbolism behind it.

Remember, money isn’t about money—it’s about our sense of worth.  What we spend it on is reflective of how we see ourselves and our world.  It reflects our values, passions and dreams.

I think we can learn a lot about people by looking at different aspects of their lives.  Think about it: Look in someone’s refrigerator, what does it tell you?  Lots of weird sauces, or is there just a six pack and a cold pizza?  Reflective, right?  Money is the same way.  So, spend some time noticing what your money is telling you.  Where do you spend it?  What do you do with it?  Where do you keep it? How do those actions sometimes reflect things you hadn’t realized before?  You can learn a lot. Just follow the money.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want to chat about what your money might be trying to tell you? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Balancing Loyalty

Loyalty is a good thing.  We seek it in all our relationships, and we practice it in return.  We want to be loyal and we want others to be loyal to us.  The question to ponder here is where might loyalty actually work against you?  Specifically where does it have you spending money to be ‘loyal‘ that doesn’t actually align with balancing your self-care with your desire to care for others?  And where are you possibly being taken advantage of by companies and associations that rely on your loyalty, even when they haven’t ‘earned‘ it?

It’s a tricky thing.  I had a client once who was a major shopper.  In truth she was in it for the ‘hunt‘, and had a whole room full of bags of things she’d bought and never used.  Many of them she had bought at a particular department store that had ‘given‘ her a credit card with their name on it.  She felt really honored and special that they had given her the card.  It made her one of the ‘in crowd‘.  She went there often, really loved their customer service, and piled up many charges on the card.  The card had a much higher interest rate than her other credit cards.  She was great at the buying… not so much at paying on time.  Oh, and she didn’t want to ‘insult‘ the store by returning things, so she didn’t.  It was all about a ‘personal‘ relationship she was imagining she was having with a store.  The store was doing its job well.  She just wasn’t noticing that she was confusing her personal desire—for relationship—with their techniques of building loyalty.  She was stunned when I pointed out that the clerk that was helping her didn’t actually know she had a store credit card until it was time to pay.  The clerk was giving good service regardless.  And  she also missed that no actual person would feel hurt and disappointed if she returned things that she didn’t use.

Together we did get her out of this pattern, but the bigger question this raises is something like “Where are you assuming more ‘caring’ from a company or professional than is really there?”  

Yes, every company or pro you work with wants you to keep coming back and using them, myself included!  And you need to figure out whether the ‘relationship‘ is really going both ways, or if it is one-sided.

There is something in this mix of our need for actual human connection that is being hindered by the constant pseudo connection of Social Media and cell phones.  I recently sat across from a family having lunch at my local Sushi place: Mom, Dad and an about-9-year-old child.  All three were on their phones instead of talking to each other.  They stopped the phones when the food came, but still didn’t talk.

Maybe it’s just that there is so little actual connection going on that we don’t recognize that the ‘connection‘ we have with the person who cuts our hair isn’t the same as the one with our friend we went to the movies with.

I’m extremely loyal to companies that give me good service for a fair price.  And I’m not tolerant and won’t do business with those that are rude.  I ‘vote with my feet‘—and do it as a reflection of my values… what I care about.  I care about how we all treat each other.  I care about fairness.  And where I spend my money really does reflect what I’m up to.  Am I trying to fulfill some need in a place where it really can’t happen?  Or am I really having an exchange that enriches both of us?

The answer is different for each of us.  There are things I care about—and might even be ‘extravagant’ with—that mean nothing to you, and visa versa.  I’m just wanting to make sure that you are getting what you are seeking, and finding the balancing point—that your time, energy, and money are going toward what you truly care about.  Give it a ponder and see what you notice…

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like some support with the pondering give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Your Business Is YOUR Partner!

Have you every wished you had a business partner in your solopreneur business?  What if the business itself could be that partner? If you are an entrepreneur, if your pay is ‘commission’ based, if you are self-employed — your business is your partner!

One of the pitfalls of having an independent business is that it’s just you, right?  You make all the decisions.  Sure you may have some outside help for things like accounting and keeping all the technology going.  Hopefully you also use some outside support around marketing.  And at the end of the day it’s just you.

I’d like you to consider a radical idea, one that will actually improve your business!  Think of the business itself as an entity outside of you!  Even imagine it as a person.  First allow your mind to dream her up.  See her there about three feet in front of you?  What does she look like?  What is she wearing?  What is her name?  Is it the name of your business or something else?

Imagine what it would be like to have a partner and ally in your business that you could talk to.  Someone you could brainstorm ideas with.  Someone that is right there with you every step of the way.  Frankly most of us ‘talk’ to ourselves anyway — what would be the value of purposeful conversation with your business?

When you start thinking of your business as a person or entity things shift.  It allows you not only to give different attention to your business, but to also have a clearer separation between it and your personal life.  That’s a very good thing!

It’s very easy for us to get tangled in having the feeling that our business is personal—that people’s response to the business is to be taken personally.  And that’s a trap.  Clients see the ‘business’ you differently than friends and family do, right?  You need to have some separation between those different roles in life to keep sane!

I have had some clear personal experience in this area.  As the Money Knot Untangler, people naturally associate me with money.  That’s a good thing for business.  However, when you find people backing away from you when you are introduced because you represent that scary money thing, you start to worry that you might smell bad!  I’ve had that experience many, many times.  My ‘Business Babe‘ part laughs at that and thinks it’s great.  Personally it took some getting used to in order to stop feeling like no one wanted to dance with me at the school dance.

In case you are thinking this is just weird and woo-woo, allow me to remind you that even our government thinks of Corporations as entities.  Just sayin’!

How about having little meetings with your business?  Asking what it needs?  What’s working well? What needs improvement?  Oh, and together you both might actually gather some data about what’s going on by looking at the money stuff.  Money’s job really is to provide information.  The twist here is that your business may see and interpret the information in a different way that creates new opportunities, or smooths out rough spots.  It’s worth a shot, right?

By creating a real relationship with your business you will make both of your lives easier, and may actually get a level of support you just haven’t found before.  Give it a try.  At least these days when we talk to ourselves out in the world folks just assume we are on our cell phone, so no worries there!  Remember that you are still the President/Owner of the business, and this ally is here to help you.  See what you two can come up with.  And if you need a bit of help mediating the difference between what you want and what the business wants, I’m here to help!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Let me know if you’d like help creating a relationship with your business.  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Finding Reliable Sources

Who do you go to for information?  These days we often dive into the ‘web’ for information, and I’m guessing you also have people who you seek out for their knowledge and expertise.  Long ago my family taught me about this in some interesting and amusing ways.

First let me tell you how I learned to bake bread.  My paternal Grandmother, Dossie, was  a cook—like ran a lunch room, catered meals for 100+ by herself cook.  And she baked, wow did she bake: rolls, cinnamon buns, bread… everything!  In my 20s I started to learn to bake, and it does require finesse and practice.  The interesting thing was how she tutored me in this.  She couldn’t really explain what to do.  She’d say things like “you knead the dough until it feels right.” Huh?  What she could to was diagnose a problem in seconds, even over the phone.  So that’s how I learned the art form of baking from her.  I’d call and tell her how the loaf looked, and she’d tell me I didn’t let it rise long enough, or I didn’t have enough yeast in it, or a myriad of other tips.  She was a very reliable source for baking knowledge, and I got to be a pretty good baker.  (As a sad little aside, I have had to mostly give up baking, at least for myself—gluten and yeast are no longer my friends.)

Even earlier when I was in Junior High School—which you may think of as “Middle School”—there was another resource lesson.  Actually it was several lessons in one event.  My dad was the kinda guy that wanted you to think, and have a good reason for what ever you did, or asked for.  We had this Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia.  It was many very small books.  One day I came to him and told him that we needed a new encyclopedia.  “Why would that be?” he asked.  “Well, it’s because I have to do this report on WWII for my Social Studies class and our encyclopedia was published in 1937,” I responded.  A new encyclopedia was purchased right away.  I needed a better source,  and he readily agreed!

What I took away from both of these early examples—and other life experiences—was that you really need to be careful who you go to for information.  It’s not that people don’t have opinions on a variety of things—they do.  But do they have expertise, a base of knowledge about the subject, or wisdom in that area?

I think we get ourselves in trouble when we ask well-meaning folks who don’t actually have expertise in the topic about things.  For example, we tend to ask colleagues about how to attract clients.  I’ve seen it within the coaching community for years.  It’s not that talking with colleagues about your business is all bad… but how about talking with the people who you actually want as clients instead?  Finding out what they want?  Oh and finding a sales and marketing expert to help you attract those people?

When it came time to upgrade my website I worked with  Jerry Fletcher, Brand Poobah and he started with having me gather data about my clients, and then I had conversations with the clients I really worked well with about what brought them to me.  I needed to know what the clients wanted and needed in order to hire me. And I needed someone to help me give them that.

I know what I do well and where I need help.  And when I need help, I look for someone who is a reliable, deep source in that area I don’t know about.  We all have different talents and knowledge.  I don’t need to know everything, what I do need to know is how to find and expert and when to ask for help.  It saves me bunches of time and money, and also helps me learn about new things.

Where might an expert help you do better?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Let me know if I can either be a source or help you find one.  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.