“When your self-worth goes up, your net worth goes up with it.”
– Mark Victor Hansen, American speaker, trainer and author
“I’m applying for your job,” he said. “What does it pay?”
I had accepted a new job with a different company in another city.
Already, a couple people had expressed an interest in my position — among them, the young fellow who now stood in my doorway.
He was what you might call a go-getter: a little bit arrogant and a lot over-confident.
After asking him to close the door, I explained that knowing what I was getting paid was irrelevant.
He would not be offered the same wage. After all, I had over 25 years of experience.
He had only been in the industry for a couple of years and had no management experience.
A week later he was back in my office again — this time to announce the he was being interviewed for my job. And to his way of thinking, he was the only viable candidate.
I had to admit, what he lacked in experience, he made up for in bluster, bravado and self-assurance.
“It would really help if I knew what they were paying you.”
When I reluctantly disclosed a figure, he looked stunned.
“I’m going to ask for 10 grand more.”
We all deal with money every day and it seems that money has come to represent more than buying power — it has also come to represent personal power, responsibility, expectation, greed, envy, self-worth and even fear.
I know people who earn only a modest income and are completely happy.
I know people who have a great deal of money and are miserable.
Perhaps money doesn’t buy self-worth but does self-worth impact our earning potential?
As with self-esteem, thoughts, beliefs and personal values regarding money are formed in childhood.
Our parents are typically the first role models of our money mentality.
Whether they were frugal or spendthrifts, saved for a rainy day or lived in debt, their example had a tremendous impact on our attitudes toward wealth.
Sometimes referred to as wealth-esteem, our attitude about money consists of three primary components: beliefs, values and behaviour associated with wealth.
And whether we pay our bills on time, set 10 per cent aside each month or carry the burden of crushing debt, our outer life and behaviour will always be a reflection of our inner financial/emotional programming.
Most of us will try to make external changes when we find ourselves in financial difficulty.
We work harder (instead of smarter), reluctantly ask for a raise, take on extra work or take on an extra job.
The problem is that once the financial tensions ease, we usually find ourselves reverting to familiar old patterns.
Wealth-esteem, like self-esteem, is always an inside job.
Like self-esteem, improving your wealth-esteem takes self-awareness.
To change a belief, you must first be aware of its existence.
Once unearthed, you can begin to examine its origin, the purpose it served in your life and the reasons you’re still invested in its preservation.
From my childhood, I learned a strong work ethic but I didn’t learn a smart work ethic.
I held to the belief that to succeed all you needed to do was work hard, and I worked myself into the ground.
Work alone (I have since discovered) is no guarantee of success — financial or otherwise.
You must have a plan, a strategy and a goal-focused approach to growing wealth.
For years I worked a series of low paying jobs.
If anyone questioned me, I told them that money was unimportant as long as I enjoyed what I was doing.
And in a way, that’s not wrong thinking. For me, however, it was a lie. I was afraid to put myself out there.
Afraid to dream. Afraid to set a goal and go for it.
Poor self-worth was limiting my earning potential.
Recently I read of an interesting exercise designed to help uncover beliefs around wealth and person value.
The simple process involves gently questioning a particular (wealth-related) belief in order to gain understanding and insight.
Imagine it to be a dialogue with a friend who is struggling financially.
The internal dialogue might go like this.
“So, you’re unable to make ends meet. What does that mean to you?”
(Supporting Belief) “I don’t earn enough money at work.”
“So, you don’t earn enough money. What does that mean to you?”
(Supporting Belief) “I’m not skilled enough to earn a good wage.”
“So, you’re not skilled enough to earn a good wage.
“What does that mean to you?”
(Supporting Belief) “I’m not smart/talented/good enough to compete.”
“So, you’re not smart/talented, good enough to complete.
“What does that mean to you?”
(Supporting Belief) “That I’m inferior — a loser — a failure.”
Within a few moments – with just a few questions — the unconscious associations about earning a successful living and being a worthy and deserving person have been uncovered. It’s only one of many techniques to raise unconscious beliefs to the surface of awareness.
There are ways to shift and enhance your wealth-esteem.
Like self-esteem, it’s journey, not a destination, and the sooner you start, the better.
A great way to start is to seek the advice of a counsellor or coach.
You may discover that you’re worthy and deserving of much more.
Sometime later, it was announced that my young colleague had been chosen to fill my position. I congratulated him and shook his hand. He reached over and closed my office door.
“I asked for 10 grand more and they countered with five.”
For me, it was a defining moment. Initially, I went to that place of unworthiness.
How can they pay him more than me? Is he more talented and valuable?
Looking back, it was exactly the experience I needed to begin unearthing and examining the beliefs, values and perceptions that underpinned my wealth-esteem.
I’d recommend that you do the same.
Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.