Thursday, September 09, 2010

Robin Sharma got me thinking..

He tweeted this : @_robin_sharma I'm so much more interested in how many people you've developed vs how much money you've made.

It came at the right time. I'm going through one of those spells where I wonder why I am not chasing money as much as I think I should. Hah, that last sentence is a symptom of the great muddle in my mind.

I think I should be chasing money. But then I find that I'm not. I find I am putting more energy into long term branding activities and building my team. Then we fall short of target. Then I think there is something wrong with me. Then I get all grouchy and miserable. How can we sustain our business if I am not money-minded?

So when Robin Sharma's tweet came, it stopped me in my tracks. I read it again and again. At first I thought it meant that developing people is important than making money. Ya, that's so me -_- But as I sat with that thought, I realised that it made me uncomfortable.

You know how a truth will ring true? That light bulb moment? Well, I didn't experience that.

Instead a little nagging voice asked - what does this really mean ah? Do charity work ah? Train people at whatever fee they can afford? Is this what I really want? No, something doesn't feel right about this way of thinking. It's not what I want at all.

So I asked myself, is there another way to look at this? Maybe it goes back to WHY I want to make money. The immediate answer that came to me is 'so that I can re-invest and expand and be able to develop more people'. OK, sounds like a good answer. Is this true for me?

How do I really feel about money?

I think I have a pretty distant relationship with money and wealth. I went shopping last weekend, determined to buy a good designer bag. I found a DKNY that I liked. It cost RM590. That was within my budget. But I continued looking. I found the same bag in a different colour at Parkson and it was on sale - only RM241. And I had RM70 worth of discount vouchers. So it would only cost me RM171. I should have been happy - but no, I continued looking.

Hours later, I found a bag that I liked so much I immediately wanted it, even without asking the price. It was perfect for me - the right colour, design and size. How much was it? RM60. I am happy. Completely satisfied. I bought matching shoes (that were really comfy) and I happily went home.

Haha, I just remembered : apparently, some time ago, dad wanted to buy me a BMW and I said no, I want a Kelisa. Funny thing is, I don't even remember this conversation! It was Sonny who brought it up years later - he witnessed this exchange and was left dumbstruck. It didn't leave an impression on me but it obviously traumatised him!

Why don't I like expensive things? What's wrong with me? I know this mindset drives my two partners crazy. This is holding us back, keeping us small and struggling. Because I don't believe in paying an excessive amount of money for the things I buy - I feel dreadfully uncomfortable about charging our clients on a scale that is aligned to what Shahnaz and Peter want to charge. I just cannot see how to justify a high price. I can't appreciate the value. Or rather, I am unable to translate the value I see to $$$. It's a blind spot for me.

This is my inner conflict.

I know that what we do is important and valuable. I know I can do NGO work instead, no need to make lots of money, just live frugally and I will be happy. I experienced this when I set up Peace Please Sdn Bhd. I've also experienced the other extreme during my early advertising days - earning big bucks and spending like there' s no tomorrow.

What I am committed to create now is a combination of both. Earning big bucks while living moderately. Getting paid well for doing something that adds value to people's lives. I set up 95% to prove that this is possible. I refuse to believe that people have to choose between money and values. Some companies have already started operating this way - I want to do it too.

But if I get paid for doing something good, does that make it less good?

Maybe this is why Donald Trump and Bill Gates set up charitable foundations. So when they make money, they are completely clear that their intention is to maximise profit. Then they pour a percentage into pure charity. Nicely compartmentalised. No conflict.

But even this doesn't feel right for me.

I want both to happen simultaneously - I want it to be a complete, wholistic way of life. Giving and receiving in abundance as a natural cycle. THIS is what I want.

Yes, the work I do to develop people will always be more interesting than the money I make - but BOTH are important and I am committed to improve my competence in both areas simultaneously.

*... sigh ... *

Ok, I'm done for now. Conclusion : this is bugging me now. I will pay attention and keep exploring within myself. Conflict and discomfort means I am stepping out of my comfort zone. I am in the realm of 'I don't know' and that's a scary yet exciting place.

That's a sign of growth. I am committed to grow myself, my business. One belief that works for me is, the more I grow myself, the more I have to give. To stay in balance, I open myself to also increase my capacity to receive.


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