NOTE: This article was also posted on Nina’s LinkedIn blog
Recently, I was interviewed by Hilary Hendershott on Profit Boss Radio about how our attitudes inevitably shape the way we experience money. Our money beliefs form early in our lives, and they typically are tied to our upbringings. Once you understand what’s behind these beliefs, you can challenge those that are holding you back.
As a career and success coach, I specialize in directing people’s core energy. I work with clients to identify the motives that drive their actions and results that will generate progressive inertia — and how to shift away from the energy that blocks potential. This process includes using the Energy Leadership Index, which is an assessment administered by the Institute for Professional Excellence In Coaching (iPEC). It measures seven different levels of energy and how they show up during different circumstances, from stressful to optimal. Each energy level has its pluses and minuses, and no state is permanent. We all have particular default levels and operating tendencies that lead to matching experiences.
At every energy level, there are unique core thoughts, feelings, and actions that affect our experiences. Let’s look at the seven different forms of energy that filter our perspectives on money. Which energy level filters your money views?
Energy Level 1: Core Thought: “I Am Losing”
At level one, we feel hopeless and out of control when it comes to our finances. These feelings color our reality with matching behaviors, like avoidance of bills, piling of debt, being a slave to our jobs, accepting less than we’re worth, and generally believing that there’s no way to get ahead. Acting from this low energy does little to shift the situation. In fact, when we focus on the thought of “losing,” we simply attract more of the same. It’s helpful to recognize that there are many ways to look at the situation.
Level one leads to actions and outcomes of scarcity. To shift from level one, ask yourself questions like, “Is it true that there are no alternatives to losing? How can I make small steps toward gain? What needs to happen to stabilize my situation? Who else has overcome financial issues, and what can I learn from them?” These questions will widen your perspective beyond the current situation and make space for a new reality to unfold.
Energy Level 2: Core Thought: “I Win, You Lose”
At level two, we allow feelings of frustration and conflict to guide our actions. This causes us to overcompensate for insecurities about our financial positions with self-serving aggression. Here, we exhibit actions of greed that are solely focused on our own personal gain, without any consideration for others. We might find ourselves accumulating more debt, constantly arguing about money, battling negotiations, or losing employees and coworkers.
Before we get all judgmental about level two behavior, let’s first recognize how common it is. In our competitive and capitalistic society, it’s easy to get trapped in the mindset that there can only be one winner. This is why level two energy runs rampant in business and corporate America. While level two can stimulate short-term motivation through its intimidating energy, it is rarely sustainable, and leads to negative outcomes like isolation, greater financial loss, and turnover.
When you identify level two behavior, ask questions that go beyond the ego, such as, “Is it necessary that someone else must lose in order for me to gain? What is the most responsible action I can take to represent myself and others? What are some ways for everyone to win?”
Energy Level 3: Core Thought: “I Win, but I Hope You Win, Too”
Level three energy is a place of coping. From this space, we have a greater ability to act responsibly as well as to find compromise within an otherwise tough situation. Here is where our vantage point widens beyond ourselves. Then, we transcend, at least slightly, into situational awareness that’s more than just “my own loss” (level one) or “my own gain” (level two). Here, we realize that there’s actually a big world outside of ourselves. From this level, we might seek help from a financial expert to help manage our money issues, or we might be willing to compromise during a negotiation.
While level three begins to stabilize an otherwise tumultuous financial situation, it also tends to keep us in “toleration mode,” where our full financial potential remains blocked. The status quo becomes a comfort zone, making us somewhat risk-averse and often financially stagnant.
If level three money energy resonates with you, then consider a perspective shift. Ask questions like, “How can I push myself outside of my comfort zone? What would have to happen for me to feel really good about money, versus just ’okay’ about it? What’s the difference between controlling money and allowing it to flow?”
Energy Level 4: Core Thought: “You Win”
At level four, we give our money and value to others. This is a very caring space, where many of us naturally operate as parents, spouses, friends, and relatives. And, while giving things away is generous and admirable, it’s not always appropriate — and it’s definitely not sustainable for running a business. At energy level four, we might find ourselves undercutting our services and accepting less than our worth in an effort to help our clients, colleagues and managers. We’ll also have a service mentality that overlooks our own potential for gain.
While this energy stimulates the flow of money outside of ourselves, we keep ourselves excluded from that flow, and over time, this can lead to feelings of burden (level one), resentment, and frustration (level two). We might also feel like everyone around us is gaining but ourselves.
When you detect level four energy, here are some thoughts to consider: “How can I include myself in the outcome of everyone’s gain? What would a win-win look like and how is it different than only allowing others to win?”
Energy Level 5: Core Thought: “We All Win”
This is the space where we transcend the “me vs. them” mentality and consistently operate in consideration of “we,” or everyone’s gain. We understand that there’s always a way for everyone to win — all we have to do is work together to find it. This energy level is highly collaborative and works well in business. We are willing to listen to opposing points-of-view, as well as openly assert our own ideas. A person operating from level five is committed to reconciliation for the sole purpose of getting to an innovative idea, which leads to everyone’s gain.
Running our businesses from level five will never undercut anyone’s value, including our own. We will match our high expectations for gain with the same value of offerings. We’ll attract opportunities and teams of people who welcome our leadership because of our win-win approach.
While level five energy tends to be a great space for financial gain and opportunity, it also can cause over analysis. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the available opportunities, ask yourself questions like, “How does my gut feel about this decision? What’s the worse that could happen if I move forward and test a certain approach?”
Energy Level 6: Core Thought: “Money Is Shared by All”
Energy level six is where we begin to operate from a place of trust and intuition when it comes to our money beliefs. Here, we understand that money is flowing all around us. In order to access it, all we need to do is reach out and connect.
From this space, we are less interested in competing and more interested in synthesizing our efforts and influence with others, since we know that success begets success. It’s an ongoing “boats rise with the tide” philosophy. We trust that there’s enough wealth and success for everyone — it is shared by a collective whole that we are all a part of. In other words, at level six, we intuitively know that the only thing separating us from an endless sea of financial success is ourselves.
How do you connect to level six? Ask yourself, “What lens of energy is blocking me from casting my net into the flow of financial success? How can I begin to connect with the flow of wealth all around us? What impact can I make as a connected influence of this world?”
Energy Level 7: Core Thought: “Money Is Just Paper”
Ah, the elusive level seven. Okay, it’s tough to embrace the value of money as little more than its physical properties. After all, we’ve all experienced money’s impact on our lives, on both an emotional and mental level — heck, maybe even a spiritual level.
However, at the end of the day, money serves us according to our perspectives. In other words, money plays the role that we give it on our own grand stages of life. The importance we place on money is entirely up to us — it can preoccupy us, motivate us, overtake us, support us, or even break us. Yet, still, at the end of the day it is just paper assigned with a value.
When times are tough with money, energy level seven is worth our contemplation. It’s also useful in allowing us to let go of money, so that it may continue its cycle of flow. Ask yourself, “How much value do I place on money? What role do I allow money to play in my life — is it supportive or destructive? How might shifting my value of money change the way I feel about life?”
Nina Cashman is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Learn more about the DailyWorth here.