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A Tale of Money and Ethics

Curious and strange behaviors often happen around money.  Somehow our ethics and demeanor can change when money enters the equation.  Recently a friend who is a Massage Therapist shared a fascinating story with me.  As part of the process of renewing his certification, he is required to attend an Ethics Class every four years. Two of the topics the instructor covered were Hugging’ and ‘Tipping’. The way they were approached during this class was very intriguing to me.  Let’s start with ‘Hugging’.

According to the curriculum, the ethical standard is to discourage a client from hugging their masseur.  This logic seems bizarre to me personally, however, my friend explained they spent a great deal of time on the avoidance of hugging. Including coming up with solutions, like telling the client “I just don’t feel like a hug today” as a way to dissuade hugging after the massage.  My friend has the perspective that if a client wants to hug him as a warm friendly thank you for a job well done, he’s all for it.

The ethics class then made a rather odd turn to the discussion of how to encourage tipping.  Clever things like a tip jar, and even saying “I appreciate it when you tip me.”  My friend was pretty shocked by this.  He considers what he does as a massage therapist to be a healing art. We don’t tip doctors, dentists, chiropractors or acupuncturists – so why should we tip our massage person?   My sense is that we tip the people who are not getting fully compensated for their work, like ones who live on tips. My friend chalks it up to greed on the side of his colleagues.

Either way, it seems pretty odd that hugging is bad yet, tipping is good, doesn’t it?  But then tipping is about money, and things tend to get pretty wonky there, don’t they?

Personally, I get a kick out of watching a few of the ‘Judge’ TV shows.  Every single case brought forward is about money and how wacky people get with it!  Common threads include ideas like “I shouldn’t have to pay back the loan, because I got fired, I don’t make enough, I want to buy a house…” on and on it goes.  One of the most frequent causes of these suits that end up on television is that people’s emotions overrun their original reason for getting money into the mix via a gift or loan.

We all know what can happen in families when money is involved, right?  The same sibling or parent who would probably jump in front of a bus to save your life is likely the same person who will never pay you back for that no-interest loan you gave them.  Similarly, if you don’t spend the money a family member gave you in a way they approve of, they might possibly sue you in court to get it back.

If it’s a stranger that someone hired to do something for them somehow people feel entitled to not pay them if the vendor calls you, or shows up at your door and asks for money. They consider it harassment to be asked to pay for the services.

I think the reason these practices are such a mess, from the tipping to the lending, to the gifting is that people are still so confused about money.  To my thinking, Money is a tool to tell us what we are up to.  Money says in clear terms that we made this much and spent that much.  Money doesn’t have an opinion about whether that decision to spend or save was smart, good, or even ethical.  That’s not its job.  But we use money as if it was its job.  We have judgments about money all the time, or more precisely what those around us did or didn’t do with it!

So for my part, I hug my massage person, not my doctor, and tip the food server.  Oh, and I try not to let money get in the middle of my relationships, be they routed in the personal or professional.  How about you?  What’s your take on this tale of money and ethics?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Everybody Knows

At the beginning of this century, I lived for a couple of years in Columbia, South Carolina.  It was quite a culture shock for me, having lived in the West all my life.  I thought I could live anywhere –  I was wrong, so wrong! One of the more frustrating cultural phenomena in Columbia was what I called ‘Everybody Knows’.   At that time ‘Everybody Knows’ was not just a Southern thing, it was also an East Coast thing.  

More often than not, the people that live in South Carolina and even the East Coast in general, come from a long line of generations living in the same place. They were entrenched in their surroundings and way of life.  Once, while having my hair done at the ‘Cut and Curl‘ near me, my stylist and I were talking about food.  I mentioned an ingredient that was rare in that part of the city.  I can’t quite remember what it was, perhaps Tarragon Mustard?  She seemed quite interested in the mustard, and I told her she could get it at a shop in Five Points, a shopping area about 6 miles away in downtown Colombia.  Her comment was “Oh!  I never go that far!”

Things in the South and even small towns across this country continue as they have always been.  Thus there is no need to give people information… because ‘Everybody Knows’!  The local newspaper declared ‘Fireworks at the Fort on the 4th’ and yet there was no further information listed.  Important information, like when?  Which entrance? Is there a cost?  Where do you park?  Pets allowed?  All sorts of things that I, being a newcomer, wanted to know!  Specifics were not printed anywhere in the paper because ‘Everybody Knows’.   There was an array of things that everybody there knows today, and has known forever.  

My concern which you may see as a ‘rant’ is that this mindset is spreading!

Certainly, in this age of the internet, the world feels smaller.  I’ve had clients as far away as Bulgaria!  It feels like technology is taking over our lives. It has taken over so much so that I have a new rule for myself: Only one technological challenge a day!

Much has changed since I first started using computers in the early 90’s. In our rush to get the newest, fastest, wizziest tool possible the ‘Everybody Knows‘ syndrome has taken over.  Back when computers were just becoming mainstream there were actually printed instruction manuals. I know, because I wrote some of them!  There wasn’t this standing assumption that ‘Everybody Knows’.

These days I can and have spent hours trying to figure out how to use software that I’m supposed to just magically understand.  Software that has no Help Function which covers my question.  Icons and sequences that don’t make sense to me.

Some examples that I’ve run into include:

  • The Triangle, Circle, and Square on my Fire Tablet – I at least grok* 2 out of 3 of these now. (* For those of you who aren’t Heinlein fans, grok is Martian for understanding profoundly and intuitively.)
  • How to answer my cell phone.  Who knew you had to put your finger on the flashing button and drag across to the receiver icon to answer that puppy?  Certainly not me.  I kept having to call people back.
  • Don’t even get me started on the lack of explanation for how to use mandatory websites for filing payroll taxes.

To my thinking, it all falls into the ‘Everybody Knows’ category. See what keeps happening is that we make assumptions that everyone knows what we know…right?  As we do that, we exclude people who don’t know what we know.  That is a very dangerous thing to do.

And it’s not just the software that is at fault, it’s how we use it.  I keep having this thing happen where I send an email to someone with two or three questions in it. Somehow I only get a response back for the first question.  It may not be the exact Everybody Knows‘ relationship, but it’s a close cousin!  I’m guessing it has to do with the amount of technology overload we often experience. We don’t take the time to really read the email in its entirety. We read the first part of it and we just zoom it back.  I’ve noticed that when I do that I often miss something.

We all need to slow down.  If you can’t actually focus on the response now, why not wait until you feel less rushed?  Unless it’s a dire emergency people will accept waiting a bit.  I notice some people set expectations for when they will respond with tags on their emails like: “You can expect a response from within one business day.”  Or you could send a response that says: “I’ve got your email, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.  Up to my tuckus in alligators at the moment.”  Sometimes, especially if I’m tired, I will read a ‘tone’ into an email that isn’t there when I re-read it later.  Based on that revelation I have taken to purposely waiting awhile before I come back and answer it.  Preferably even overnight.

One thing I think everybody knows is that this lack of patience, courtesy, and respect in our communication hurts everyone. It isolates all of us.  It takes away our humanity.

Let’s see if one by one we can’t try and help each other out, understanding this ‘intuitive’ technology, and communicating with each other.  Maybe we can finally get to the idea that it’s never simply about us and them — It’s really just Everybody!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

What’s your take on this? 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.

My Road to Coaching

A client recently asked me about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of my becoming a coach.  In thinking about the ‘road’ I took to becoming a coach, it occurred to me that the story and what I learned along the way might be of value to others.

There really are two separate stories tied up in my career path: the one about the  Money road and the one about the  Coaching road, which eventually connected.  At this point, I’m going to focus on the Coaching one — Who knows, maybe later I’ll write about the Money one!

Allow me to wax philosophically a bit here.  There is the distinction that Micheal Meade makes between Fate and Destiny.  Fate being the family, culture and circumstances we are born into.  Our fate is what leads to whole families of Doctors, or Teachers, and such.  Destiny is more about our innate unique personality.  The talents our family never really seems to understand.  For me the fate piece was the  Money road that had me become a CFO, while the destiny piece was much more the fuel for me embracing coaching—following a natural talent to a new place.

Certainly anyone can become a Personal Coach, Life Coach, Health Coach, Business Coach… whatever kind of coach they want to be.  And I think that the seed of being a gifted and effective ‘coach’ is something we inherently have.  It certainly was that way for me.  As early as Junior High (Middle School) I found people coming to me with problems.  They wanted someone to talk to, someone who would listen, support them, give some suggestions, and not judge them.  I seemed to fit that bill.  It wasn’t something I actively sought, it just happened.  And it kept happening.  Of course, like most things, it was a double-edged sword.  I found that they often wanted my support, but less often asked me to hang out with their crowd.  C’est la vie.

Frankly this thing of being a safe and trusted ‘ear’ stayed with me throughout the years.

And then in the early ’90s there was this incredible opportunity I had.  I got involved with YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists).  YRUU was a youth led program for teens ranging  from Middle School through High School.  Many churches had a Youth Group with supported by several Adult Advisors. There were also District and National events and conferences led by youth with adult support.  It was a fascinating and delightful thing that unfortunately has gone by the wayside.

Through most of the ’90s I was heavily involved with YRUU on all levels: local, district, national… and I even wrote the “Youth Advisor Handbook” (available in various reprints on Amazon and even Ebay). The point was to really encourage the youth to run things themselves.  The advisor role was to support, listen, and create an atmosphere that allowed the youth to actually come up with their own solutions.    The youth never ceased to impress me.  They were often wiser than the adults.  Certainly it took patience to let them lead—I learned to count to 10, and then do it again, and again!  Giving them the opportunity to fix the problem on their own gave them practical experience.  And that is a fundamental tenet of the concept of coaching… that the client at some level actually knows—and has the capacity to solve—their problem.

This was a perfect place for me.  The only frustration was dealing with the adults and parents who wanted to jump in and control things.  They had a hard time truly trusting that the youth could make good decisions.

At this point there was no such thing as Personal Coaching, and no way to make a living doing this (it was all volunteer work).  However, around this same time along came Thomas Leonard. He was an EST employee in the ’80s and founded Coach U and the ICF (International Coach Federation) in 1995.  He spearheaded the radical idea that people could seek help and support for their lives without needing “therapy”—that we all had the capacity to do better.

When I heard about coaching in the late ’90s , I was naturally intrigued and went to a presentation.  It sounded great, and at that time looked like a hobby.  How was anyone going to make a living doing this?

By late 2000 I was hooked by the idea and started training with CTI (Coaches Training Institute).  This is what I was meant to do, what I’ve always done: untangled the knot, dug deeper, asked the questions.  Now I had a platform and credentials for doing it.  Fortunately for me the Money road had given me a bunch of business skills to help build my practice.  It all came together for me.

There is something truly magical about finding the work that truly makes your heart sing.  As you read this you’ll notice there were hints all along the way, coaching and untangling things comes naturally to me.  It’s why I’ve been at this now for almost 20 years… it’s frankly the ONLY career I’ve ever had that never bores me!

Look back on your road and see where the clues are… is there something calling you to a different path?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like some support in sussing out your ‘destiny’ 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.

Donning the Mantle

How do you get ‘ready’ for work?  What do you do to prepare yourself to give a presentation?  Or to have a challenging conversation?  How do you don the mantle of your career?

I got intrigued with some of the creative ways we do this while reading a recent blog by my friend, Rachel Boehm. In The Clothes Make the Man she talked about the subtle messages our clothes send to others and ourselves.  Part of her sharing was this great story about how she felt more strong and capable when wearing high heels, so she donned some to plunge into fixing the clogged kitchen sink.  The heels helped her get the job done!

What we wear doesn’t just send signals to others, it helps us ‘don the mantle’, doesn’t it?  We take on the authority of the position.  We step into it.

Of course all this is metaphor.  The symbols help us ‘stand’ in the role.  No wonder It’s often about shoes and feet.  It sure was for Dorothy—from following the yellow brick road to clicking the heels of her ruby slippers together.  We feel different in flip-flops than heels.

For some of us it’s a conscious act.  Long ago in the ’80s I had a co-worker named Martha.  Part of her job as the Finance Manager in that company was to make collection calls.  Trust me, that can be a daunting thing for both parties on the call.  The way she gathered her personal power to make those calls was by wearing her pearls.

What we are really doing with all this is both making a declaration, and gathering talents and strengths together.  The shoes, or jewelry, or whatever just help to remind us.  Additionally by using them, seeing them, feeling them we open those neural pathways in our brains where all the positive association around them live.

I take my maternal grandmother with me everywhere I go in the form of a ring that was hers.  As I do that I bring her qualities to life in me—things like fortitude, kindness, and even poise—which I need more of!  When I’m doing a talk or presentation my other grandmother brings her feisty, fearless self to me.  Together the talismans and ancestors all support us.

What do you don to set the tone and take up the mantle?

Oh, and just for grins, what talisman or item of clothing or jewelry might help you uncover and rely on a part of you that would be more helpful and effective with money?  And please, don’t make it a green eye shade… that would likely have the opposite effect!

I invite you to become even more conscious of this idea of creating intention through symbols that serve you.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

I’d love to hear what item works well for you.  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Separate Business & Personal Money?

The bulk of my clients are working directly for themselves.  They are the company or ‘talent’—be they real estate agents, coaches, accountants, lawyers, artists, or some other sole proprietor. A crucial part of that situation is that there are two distinct piles of money that we (yes, I’m one of those types, too) all need to deal with: Business Money and Personal Money.

Let’s explore some of the challenges and pitfalls with having these two distinct money entities, and some thoughts on how to cope with those challenges.  Here are three possibilities to look at.

1). What happens when you keep the business and personal money together, and treat it the same? This one ends up being messy, ugly, and way too complicated.  It is guaranteed to not only drive your tax person crazy, but to cost you bundles of money, time, and energy, on both the business and personal side.  Frankly it’s an avoidance tactic that will make things much more difficult.  And if you do this you miss one of the really great things about money.  By mushing everything together you miss being able to see what is happening with it.  “Where does it all go?”  “Why can’t I ever get ahead?”  Judgments and nagging voices in your head abound!  Bottom line: this is not a sustainable way to go.

2). What happens when you keep the business and personal money separate, yet still treat them the same?  This option is slightly better than the last one.  At least the taxes are easier.  There is however a subtler and yet bigger issue at play when you do this.  It ALL becomes about you personally!  When you have to tell someone your rates it’s about you instead of what you will do for them.  It’s hard enough to keep what we do from who we are internally without getting the money mixed up in there.  And an even more fascinating thing that I learned in my many years as a CFO: Business Money and Personal Money have different perspectives and scale.  They run on different criteria.  Business is all about growing itself or Return on investment (ROI).  My question was always “what is this expense going to get us as a company?”  And under that was, “will thing be better?” and “will we be more profitable/successful?” Personal money decisions often have a more emotion-based component:  “Will I feel better?”  “Will I be safer, more secure?”  “Will others like or appreciate me?”  Can you see how murky and expensive it can be when we kludge these together?  Those different criteria lead to different choices and result.  

3). What happens when you keep the business and personal money separate, and treat them that way?  I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that this option is the one I strongly suggest!  I’ve been practicing it for much of my life, all of the times I was running a business—which has included not only my coaching practice, but an electronic payment processing start-up (doesn’t that just sound techie!) and a radio station.  Keeping the money separate allowed me, among other things, to see the business as an ‘entity’ separate from me. I’ve always had these conversations with myself about: “What would the business want?” “What would it say?”  “What would make it more solid, and effective?”  Similar questions, yet from a different perspective than the Personal Money questions.  By keeping it all separate you can see what each ‘entity’ has to tell you.  You have clearer information, which will create more effective actions, and better results, both in your business and personal life.

Give it a try.  See what new ways of thinking are available.  Notice that once you get things separate between your business money and personal money—both in your accounting for them and in the way you think about them—you will be simultaneously more relaxed and in control.  A result worth working toward, for sure!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

I’d love to hear about what you discover about your own business and personal money workings and ideas. Give me a call at  503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Whoa the Worry!

We all do it.  We worry, fret, agonize, brood, and get into a dither.  It’s a human thing to do.  The question is: When is it actually effective?  And when isn’t it?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for most of is all that nattering in our heads.  That critic voice saying “you should — you must — why haven’t you…” over and over again, in every way possible.  And we get trapped in this land of defending, feeling ‘wrong‘, beating ourselves up, second guessing — you get the picture, right?

It’s hardwired in for us.  It’s very, very old, and has to do with safety and security.  There is a part of us that is obsessed with keeping us safe.  It sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?  And it would be, except that Inner Critic in our heads has a very narrow and somewhat odd perspective about what is safe!

It defines safe as where you are in this moment.  Frankly it doesn’t care about a bunch of things that make our lives challenging.  Things like piles of debt,  toxic relationships, being stuck in jobs we hate, etc.  It’s fundamental criteria is that you are not currently in imminent danger — like literally on FIRE!  Seems fairly safe to say our Inner Critic has some paranoia going on!

This critic voice in our heads is not a new thing.  It’s been around as long as humans have.  Monkey Mind, Gremlin, Sabatour… all sorts of names.  And we coaches are all too familiar with it.  It’s a big part of what keeps clients stuck.  See, whenever we try something new or different there is a chance we will mess something up.  Frankly, messing things up can be a very good thing because it leads to new ideas, possibilities, and results.  And trying something new just freaks our Inner Critic out.  It gets very activated and wants to reign you in, keep you safe, keep you right where you are in this moment!

It has a very simple and effective technique to get you off track: It distracts you.  There are many ways it does that.  A couple of classic ways are:

  • It gets you into a ginormous discussion in your head.
  • It lectures you on how bad, wrong, or stupid you are.
  • It berates, belittles, and ‘bad dogs’ you.

It’s really effective.  All this fretting on your part, fueled by the critic voice in your head, serves to distract you from any ‘new‘ idea and keep you right where you have always been!

Our Inner Critics are crafty. They know us really well.  They know the tender spots.  They will do anything to keep you safe—and again, they define safe as where you are right now.

There’s the real rub in this.  You cannot change, improve, grow, or attain new goals without doing something different.  T’aint possible.  All that time you spend nattering in your head with your Inner Critic is just distracting and sidelining you.  It’s not helpful, at all!

The most effective method I have found to stop the critic — and just in case you haven’t noticed, I think stopping it is a crucial thing to do — is to hold and think about it entirely differently.  Instead of engaging with it at all, think of it as a signal that you are doing something new and different.  Don’t try to calm the fear — instead rejoice and applaud that you are trying something new!  In a bizarre way, your job is to rattle your critic, isn’t it?  If you are just “drawing inside the lines” and “holding the status quo” nothing is going to change… NOTHING!  So instead of joining your Inner Critic in its lecture, judgement, and finger wagging, how about you celebrate that you are doing something different?  Revel in it a bit.  Know that you can change and make choices.  Thank the Inner Critic for the signal, while not falling into its distraction trap!

A good technique to distinguish between Inner Critic and something important for you to know or pay attention to is to ask yourself:

  • Is this ‘conversation‘ in my head distracting me from what I’m trying to do, or to focus on?
  • Is there a ‘tone‘ attached to the message I’m getting, like fear or shame?  Your Inner Critic always has a tone.  Your Inner Wisdom never has a tone.

See if you can’t say “Whoa there!” to all that worry, be kinder to yourself, and get more traction on your dreams!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Need some help with this? Give me a call at  503-258-1630 or leave a comment.  Happy spending!

Money Strata

We all have beliefs about money that we cling to, and when those beliefs get challenged, our reality also gets challenged.  One of the fundamental, and in many ways “unspoken” beliefs about money has to do with the “socio-economic strata” that you and your family belong to.

There are places in the world where which level of society you belong to is crucial.  For example, England still has the House of Lords.  Other places practice less obvious but equally strident categorizing.  I noticed when I lived in the South that the first question I was asked by new acquaintances was what housing development I lived in.  The answer to this question told people what strata to put me in.

We like to think of ourselves as a “democratic” society, and in many ways we are.  But when it comes to neighborhoods—and money—we have many levels.

There is an exceptionally strong internal compass to stay in our lane, and certainly to not rock the boat!

What if the only thing that actually kept us in our class or strata was the belief that a given strata was somehow where we belonged?  Guess what?  That belief is the only thing that really does keep us there, and it’s incredibly powerful.  There are amazing statistics about people who win the lottery being back to the financial status they were in before winning within just a few years.  Mismanagement and lack of financial acumen can be part of that, but I think it’s much more about being pushed into a money “strata” you don’t understand and aren’t sure how to fit into.  These people somehow feel they don’t belong in the new place, so they find ways to sabotage themselves right back to where the came from, to where they think they “belong”.  I remember once being reluctant to buy a house in a particular neighborhood.  The voice inside my head said: “You’d have to get dressed and put on makeup to get the mail!”  Definitely a step above my comfort zone.

Mostly, when we step outside of the norm, what comes with that stepping is a disruption of the old systems.  Part of what holds many families together are common beliefs and practices around money.  Many Depression Era families are proud of their ability to “keep body and soul together”.   Being able to “get through the hard times” is a part of how they see and value their family.  If someone in the family goes off and suddenly “makes good”, what does that say about the ones left behind?  It might just say that they could have chosen differently too!  And wouldn’t that be awkward?  What if everyone had a choice?

In what ways does your “strata” keep you stuck, and what would you choose if you could?  Have you even thought about how your clan and class keep you from pursuing new ideas?  What if you could decide what you wanted, and go after it?

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to explore the challenge of your Money Strata give me a call  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

Surviving SPAM – A Lot!

I’d really love for this to just be a bad Jeopardy category title — unfortunately it’s not!  It’s more a hard-won cautionary tale.

By now we ALL are up to our butts in daily SPAM, phishing, and other nasty email stuff.  I actually tracked it, and in February I received over 3000 emails that exemplify this.  Yes, my spam filter goodies caught many of them, and I am now I am also adept at using ‘ignore’ and ‘junk’, not just ‘delete.’

Today’s story is a more twisted tale about my receiving lots of unwanted email.  It’s about being inundated with ‘blog comments’ that aren’t comments.  They are sales pitches, weird things, and some were even in cyrillic!  This all started in January, and frankly it was driving me nuts!

I contacted my techno/puter genius and he came up with a solution to solve the problem.  It was all about having people ‘sign in’ to the blog before leaving a comment, thus avoiding the robotic messy spammers.  I would still maintain control on accepting their ‘membership’ in the blog, and approving their posts.  I thought all was good…little did I know!

I didn’t really notice that I hadn’t had any sign-ups or comments until someone emailed me directly with a comment and mentioned that they couldn’t figure out how to leave a comment on the blog.  Our next step was to include some language that we thought would clarify the process.  After that I asked a couple of trusted friends to try it out.  They got mired and stuck in it.  Ouch!

Only then did I remember a very crucial thing — to not make it hard for fans or clients to engage with me!  I’ve had some past experience in having clients irritated with me, when technology beyond my control wasn’t ‘friendly’, and certainly didn’t want to repeat that in any way!

It was about this time that I remembered that I had leapt in to the ‘apparent’ issue without really getting to the core problem first.  We all do that, we are trained to do that.  I remember when I was first exposed to working in a company, that the ‘rule’ was to not bring a problem to your manager without also having a solution for it.  Old habits die hard, and even though I now know better, the pressure of being uber spammed had me ‘regress under stress’, and my puter person had taken that stress at face value.  Oops!

As I got back to the core issue, which was making it easy for real people to leave a comment, the clouds started to part.

There was a fundamental flaw in my initial interpretation of the flood of spamsters fussing on my blog.  I thought it was because of the huge increase in this stuff I was experiencing everywhere.  I was wrong.  Turns out that a handy app/plugin named Akismet was the culprit. I knew I had this and assumed it was something that was free for everybody…after all, I’ve had the website for a while now.  And on WordPress it said that the software was ‘up to date’.  What I finally discovered, with the brilliant insight of my tech person, was that the software was up to date, but the license wasn’t!  Really!  Yipes!  God forbid that should be made clear to those of us that don’t speak fluent programmer-gab!

Makes sense though, everything went whacking in January.  It probably was when the previous license expired or a free trial ended.  And then all hell broke loose.  And near as I can tell no one ever notified me that I had it on a trial, or that the trial period or license had expired.

So now things are all good.  You don’t have to ‘join’ anything to leave a message.  No passwords for commenters.  No confusion for my readers.  I have paid for a year of magic Akismet.  It is catching and marking as SPAM about 20 ‘comments’ a day from the bad guys…yippee!

It cost some money, took way too much time, disrupted some clients, and probably caused some general consternation that I don’t even know about for some people.

Sometimes, I must admit, I do wonder if all this ‘progress’ is really worth it?  And in hindsight, I do appreciate the reminder — or perhaps we should call it “swift kick in the arse”— to dig deeper around what the issue really is before I leap into a solution!

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to kvetch about SPAM give me a call  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com