Despite all of the articles I’ve written for Early To Rise under the theme “Master your mind, master your money,” I still have yet to talk about the most important aspect of mastering your mind and money.

I’ve talked of course about other important aspects of mastering your mind, harnessing the power of focus, overcoming adversity, the importance of persistence, and more.

But I’ve never described the absolute number one most important aspect of mastering your mind when it comes to money.

So what is the most important aspect?

Is it patience? Perseverance? Non-emotional investing?
Resilience? Discipline?

No, no, no, no, and no.

All of those pale in comparison to…

Your money mindset.

You’ve heard the adage “success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” and I’ve talked extensively about the 99% perspiration part.

In fact, I’ve beaten that drum to near death because it is so crucial to your success in achieving any endeavor, particularly financial independence.

Today, however, I want to talk about that all-important 1% because it is, well, all-important.

It’s Vital. Crucial. Necessary. Essential. Indispensable.

It really is THAT important to achieving financial independence.

Because no matter how hard you work, nor how much you persevere, sweat, struggle, and bounce back, you will never be able to accumulate money if you believe somehow, even deep in your subconscious, that you don’t deserve it.

Now, before you click away and say, “this doesn’t apply to me, of course I want money, DUH, and of course I deserve it!” please bear with me for just one more second, because for most of us these awful “money mindsets” have been ingrained in us since we were very small children.

Recently I attended the aptly named, “AwesomenessFest.” At this event, I had the great fortune to speak with a ton of amazing people about their money problems (mentioning that I teach financial education and empowerment via “Kung Fu Finance” tends to inspire a lot of questions).

I had one especially enlightening conversation with an amazing entrepreneur and individual who has a fantastic job at one of the top publishing companies in the world, and who owns a successful business on the side. From the outside looking in, you would think this man has it all together financially-speaking, but he was thrilled to sit next to me and pick my brain about money.

He confessed that his biggest issue with money was that he felt like he wasn’t “good enough” and somehow “didn’t deserve it,” even though he is one of the kindest, most generous people you will ever have the pleasure to meet. He hated asking his customers to pay him for his products and services and also hated asking his manager for a raise.

Sound familiar? I believe most of us feel this agony at one point or another in our careers.

He thought that he should give away his gifts (his products and services) for free, or for as close to free as possible without living in complete abject struggling poverty, because it is “wrong to be greedy.”

I’m sad to say that he is not alone in those negative beliefs.

Society, schools, politics, and the news media instill us with the idea that “rich people are corrupt and greedy” and that “money is the root of all evil.” Even religion puts forth these ideas–I’m sure you’ve heard “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to Heaven.”

These negative beliefs deeply permeate our psyches and represent a huge emotional hurdle for many people. Many of us associate wealth with greed and selfishness and view rich people with fear, suspicion, and resentment, wondering whom they must have had to hurt “on the way up” in order to make all of that money.

And it’s true, yes, that there are some evil rich people out there and rich people who have gotten wealthy by taking advantage of other people, or by”cheating” or doing something illegal or immoral.

But it is not money that is good or evil…it is the person. Money is simply an amplifier–it makes you more of who and what you already are.

If you are a good person, money simply allows you to do more good. And if you are an evil person, well, then yes, money allows you to do more evil. But money doesn’t make you evil, and it is not wrong to want it.

At its core, money is simply a medium of exchange, a store of value, an invention that allows us to trade the goods and services we provide more easily.

Money has two primary purposes:

  1. To standardize value, so that people can trade things more easily.
  2. To store value, so that people can save it and trade it at a later date.

Here’s an example of money used to standardize value. If there’s a farmer that had some wheat but wanted eggs, the farmer could use his wheat to barter with the chicken coop owner who had the eggs, but then what would happen if the farmer wanted shoes, for example, but the cobbler didn’t want wheat?

Barter and trade had its issues, so people quickly turned to commodity money (shells, then later gold and silver coins) to standardize value and allow people to trade more easily.

This introduction of money also allowed us to store value, so that if the chicken coop owner’s eggs were about to go bad, he could trade them for silver coins instead of for whatever was available at that point in time, and then buy what he truly wanted later.

The introduction of money therefore allowed people to save.

And just what are we saving?

This is the core concept of money; we are saving our productive accomplishments, our hard work.

Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin’s excellent book Your Money or Your Life  explored this concept and is one reason I put it on my required reading list for financial independence — Money is simply your stored life energy; your work, your sweat, your thinking, your art, your creations, your talents.

The money you earn represents the value you bring to the people around you.

But what happens so often today is that people confuse “money” with “dollars” (or your local currency).

Dollars are simply little green pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them. They are worthless by themselves. You can’t eat them or live in them, their only use is for trade. It is not the dollars themselves that have worth — only what they represent.

Today’s essay is not about the difference between fiat currencies and sound money, which I have already beaten to death — it’s about the bigger idea of what “money” truly represents and why it is not “wrong” to want it.

Money represents the very best things that you have to offer–the goods and the services that you produce. With money, we can easily exchange our work, our talent, our skills; the very best that’s inside of us for the very best that’s inside of others.

Money is literally a symbol of human productivity and achievement, and represents all of the good things we create for each other.

If you can grasp the difference between little pieces of paper and what those little pieces of paper represent, you will never be shy nor feel bad in asking for money again.

Please read that sentence again — it is that important.

It is crucial that you understand and internalize this mindset, because it is a proven fact that you will always act consistently with your beliefs whether they are true or not. So please don’t let a limiting, incorrect, negative belief control your life or your capacity for greatness.

You have so much value to add to the world. Please go forth and contribute and do your best to make our world a better place.

Remember that money is a symbol of the best we have to offer each other. The more value you create and produce, the richer you will become.

[Ed. Note.  Susan Fujii won the I Dare You leadership award back in high school and though the monetary award was tiny, the impact on her life has been huge. To this day she recommends William H. Danforth’s book, “I Dare You!” You can learn more about Susan and receive her personal finance wisdom for free at www.KungFuFinance.com.]
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