Personal & Economic Freedom – Your Basic Right

Lets begin with personal freedom. The basis of personal freedom is the ability to think for yourself, the freedom of speech to express yourself, and the freedom to make up your own mind and take whatever action moves you towards your own goals (as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of others.)

One of the foundations of personal freedom is economic freedom. Economic freedom is your basic right in any capitalist country. Economic freedom enables you to make your own economic decisions. This includes the right to own, use and profit from property (property is defined as anything you own such as money, real estate, patents, businesses, worldly possessions etc.) You are free to choose and change jobs, businesses, careers and relationships. You have the freedom to save money and invest it as you wish.

Most people neither understand nor fully exercise this basic freedom. Instead of thinking for and educating themselves, they abdicate responsibility for their personal economics to an outside authority – including partners and spouses.

Anytime we abdicate responsibility to an outside authority we are giving up our basic freedom and becoming at the effect of someone else. This is the primary cause of failed partnerships, marriages, businesses and is the basis of one side of the money PLOT. The other side of the money PLOT is where we are the “outside authority” that others have abdicated control to.

While we are in the PLOT we may achieve economic freedom, however we will never have emotional freedom. Which means that we are not really economically free – because of our needs and obligations to be taken care of by other people – or to be the one taking care of other people. It is not possible to enjoy money for what it is – if it is mired in and intertwined with power, control, insecurity, lack and limitation!

De-program, De-condition, De-hypnotize.

There are many people teaching about money and how to build one’s wealth, however there is very little effective support available to help one de-programde-condition and de-hypnotize oneself from the core emotional aspects of money. This is more than a mental exercise, it takes examining one’s family background to fully understand and appreciate all the subtle and pervasive thoughts, beliefs and feelings that drive our money attitudes and behaviors.

Then there is the metaphysics of money, wealth and abundance. Many people think they know about metaphysics – and yet are unable to use this knowledge to financial advantage. The true test of knowledge is all in the application: if you can do it, then you know it. If you cannot do it – then you don’t know it.

Our definition of wealth is way beyond the trappings of success, income generating assets, fancy cars, big houses and loads of cash. What good is financial abundance if one has no time to enjoy it, no energy and one’s relationships are bankrupt? Most people believe in their core feelings that you cannot have it all and that you have to sacrifice something in order to obtain wealth and all its trappings. This is absolutely not true. You can have it all. And you can have it sooner than you realize… by learning about and mastering the universal principles of what we call Goldzone Wealth!

Your EXCHANGE reveals your FEELINGS.

It is at the point of exchange that our money DYNAMICS are revealed and our true feelings about money show up. Many of us have a difficult time identifying and acknowledging our feelings about money. And yet it is these very feelings that drive our behaviors which ultimately create our results.

The fastest way to identify our feelings about money (or lack of it) is to examine our exchanges with other people. It is very easy to say rationally that we believe in fair exchange and win/win – however when our money is on the line – our true feelings and behavior are exposed.

Enjoy The Good Life!

Most people work hard to generate money, to invest this money in assets that then generate more money so that they can retire, live off the income, then enjoy the good life. The question is what would happen if you enjoyed the good life now? What is the good life anyway? Is it your definition or someone else’s?

What would happen if you enjoyed what you did, were free to think, say and do whatever you wanted as long as it did not infringe on others?

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© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Money or Relationship: Symptom or Cause?

We have all heard it before. When a relationship fails, it is often stated that money problems caused the failure.

In many cases this is true, one partner loses their job or runs up unknown debts, which leads to relationship disharmony and eventually breakup or divorce. But what if there were a rarely discussed, often avoided cause that preceded the symptoms and was in fact the “real” culprit?

We all know that if you address symptoms and do not fix the cause, the problem won’t be resolved and it will continue… often from one relationship to another. Kind of like a silent serial killer that lurks in the shadows undetected, only to pounce at the most inopportune moment and wreak havoc.

After working one-on-one with thousands of couples from all walks of life, I have come to the conclusion that relationships are one of the most challenging areas of life for most people — and yet they have an enormous impact on one’s quality of life. If you sit down with any couple, it doesn’t take long to notice patterns of behavior that either add to or take away from the relationship.

Many money problems first manifested themselves in one’s relationship dynamic (which includes all relationships — home, work, family, etc.) which then shows up tangibly in the money dynamic. So if money problems are often (but not always) the symptoms, and relationship disharmony the cause, then no amount of focusing on money and finances will solve the money problems.

You won’t succeed in keeping a leaky boat afloat if all you do is grab a bucket and bail out the incoming water! What is required for sustainable, long-term success is to first bail the water out, then plug the holes in the boat to prevent more water from coming in. Yes, this sounds logical and easy, and yet, how often do people do the logical and reasonable thing when it comes to money?

So if your money dynamic isn’t flowing the way you would like, perhaps you could look to your relationship dynamic for some other causes of the problem? And at the end of the day, your relationships all reflect the most important relationship of all… the relationship you have with yourself.

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

It Is Unwise To Pay Too Little – Huh?

“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much, you loose a little money; that is all.

When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything. Because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It cannot be done.

If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.”

– John Ruskin 1819-1900

Taking Risks vs. Gambling

Many people don’t understand the difference between taking risks and gambling. Here is the definition of gambling:

Gambling v. 1. To take risky action with the hope of a desired result despite very little chance of success. 2. The risking of money or other items of material value on an event, with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and or goods of material value.

For us, we don’t gamble.  However, we do take a lot of risks. The difference is that when gambling, you have a high chance of losing, whereas with a calculated risk, you have a high chance of winning!

A calculated risk is where you give thoughtful consideration to the risk and for that which the potential costs and potential benefits have been weighed and considered.

Add to the mix one’s level of trust… we take risks and we trust. Many people gamble and have no trust… go figure!

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Expansion

A little known Generalized Principle is “EXPANSION LEADS TO EXPANSION, CONTRACTION LEADS TO CONTRACTION.”  This is similar to “WINNING LEADS TO WINNING, LOSING LEADS TO LOSING.”

The more you win, the easier it is to win. Most of us have experienced getting on a winning streak where one win leads to another, and each successive win becomes easier and easier.

Think about how you can apply these Generalized Principles to win more often – and to expand the things you want, while contracting the things you do not want…

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Has The Economy Hit Bottom Yet?

bottomyet

This graph is very interesting (from The New York Times). It shows the price-to-earnings ratio and gives us hope for the future as well as some relief that the bottom is not far away – if not here already. On the other hand, you can see that there is a possibility we will get to the lows of the 20’s, 30’s and 80’s – which means more pain on the way.

What explains the huge run up from the 80’s to the early 2000’s and why was this period very different from the previous ups and downs? The answer is the widespread adoption of new technologies. Some of the gains from applying technology have been overrated; however, for the most part, these gains have resulted in significant increases in productivity.

Even if you don’t follow the markets, you are impacted by them. When the market moves up (prices rising) it is a lead indicator of what we will see on the street in the not-too-distant future. What happens to stocks usually preempts what happens in the overall economy. Prices rising indicates optimism, prices falling indicates pessimism. The better the future looks, the higher the ratio of price-to-earnings will go.

You may be thinking, “Wow, sounds like the markets are run by emotion!” You are right, with the two primary emotions being fear and greed, and a diverse range in-between.

To be fair, there is more at play in the markets than emotion… There is also the data, the facts and the ratios. Emotions without facts are irrational. Facts without emotion are inaccurate or incomplete. As you can see, it takes both to be successful.

For those born in the 70’s and 80’s, this is a new experience (in the 2000’s). I was born in the 60’s, so you can see I experienced the slide down to the 80’s. The benefit of the graph is that you can look back a hundred years or so and see the repeating pattern. Which brings me to the good news: we will hit bottom and the wild ride up will begin again!

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

I.O.U.S.A.

This video is very well done. I.O.U.S.A. boldly examines the rapidly growing national debt and its consequences for the United States and its citizens. The graphics are awesome and the content is very well presented. The full version is available (highly recommended) on DVD from PBS.

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Financial Crisis: What to Say to Your Loved Ones

Many people have their self-worth hardwired to their net-worth. I referred to this phenomenon in Towers of Glass, Feet of Clay.  Perhaps this is the single biggest reason it is a good idea to build a glass tower around yourself in the first place. So, what happens when the waves of impact touch your reality and this tower is about to blow apart from the tension, shattering everything within its shadow?

For those of us that are fortunate enough to free ourselves from this thought form, it is easier perhaps to keep our sense of self and our self-worth in tact as these waves impact our net-worth. This is not easy, not comfortable, not separate from the tension, and not immune from the judgments of others.   Rather, it is perhaps more objective in the way we are able to view ourselves through the process.

Psychiatrists and psychologists report that 80% of their clients who are seeing them for stress related issues are stressed the most about finances and the economy.

Chronic stress leads to many physical problems, and some of these are life threatening. The way you manage this emotionally is everything. BBC News reports that the wealthiest people have been impacted in “Rich List Hit by Economic Crisis” http://budurl.com/64e6.  It states, “The financial crisis is taking its toll on the world’s richest people, wiping 332 names off Forbes magazine’s ‘rich list’ of world billionaires.” This represents about one-third of the list and the average loss for those that remain is 23% of their net-worth. Only 5.5% of those remaining on the list increased their income over the past year.

This is truly a reversal of fortune.

How do you communicate to spouses, life partners, children, parents, friends and family what is going on? How do you reassure those that are close to you in the middle of such uncertain and volatile circumstances? It’s challenging, especially when you need reassurance, too!

How do you cope when those closest to you failing to stand by you in your moment of vulnerability when they are used to leaning on you?

How do you communicate the truth without scaring and terrorizing the people around you, when you have been bred to be silent or angry when things are not right? What do you do when they only know you as the provider, the hero, the one who is strong? What happens if everyone close to you has abdicated financial responsibility to you and you have taken it, leaving him or her powerless to fend for himself or herself in this area?

Step one is to re-build, re-negotiate and redeem these relationships from the foundation of who you are, separate from your net-worth. Establish your self-worth as being most important, and free from the highs and lows of the marketplace.

Truthful, honest communication requires a quiet confidence that allows you to be authentic and natural, safe and secure like an oasis in the middle of a dry desert. The challenge is that if your self-worth is hardwired to your net-worth then you will feel ashamed and fearful, and these feelings will suppress your expression, your truth and your spirit.

The other option is for you to get frustrated and angry and this will cause you to be over-expressed and reactive. Regardless of the words you say, the positive attitude you force upon yourself and the feeling you exude is what people respond to. Your feelings are what creates the oasis, the re-assurance and the support. Your feelings are what allow those you are used to supporting to either support you or abandon you as quickly as your cash.

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Financial Crisis: Eroding High Standards

This article describes a common cause that’s behind some of the largest corporate collapses we have seen in history. Corporate collapses, particularly those caused by massive financial losses, are not often the result of a single action or cause, but rather a combination of factors. This complexity can often cover up the most significant aspect of what went wrong. A thorough investigation by people who know what to look for can often reveal lapses in standards, honesty and ethics long before the entire collapse of the organization.

These lapses often (but not always) begin at the top – with the leadership, and then filter down throughout the organization.

The Lower Truth Phenomena

We are writing here about businesses and organizations, however, this same scenario plays out in interpersonal relationships with a similar effect.

Whenever you work for or with a person who operates at a lower level of truth, honesty, values and standards than you do, you will be pulled down to their level of lower truth, honesty, values, and standards.

This does not happen overnight, it occurs slowly and insidiously over time.

Here is an example of this mechanism in operation:

Let’s say you are a high standard, high truth person who values honesty and you enter into a business partnership with another person. This can also occur when you work as an employee for lower standard management. In the following example, we are using a partnership where each partner has equal say. In situations where management has more say and power over you, this phenomena is greatly exaggerated.

Your partner purports themselves to be the same as you. They say they value honesty, have high standards, etc. On the surface, this appears to be true and you believe them.

Taking them at face value you proceed to invest a significant amount of money, time and energy in the venture. In the course of doing business, you make a lot of promises and agreements on behalf of the partnership.

When things are going well, everything is flowing and proceeding to your satisfaction. And then one by one, things begin to go wrong. There is no apparent explanation for the small failures, so you proceed forward regardless of the “taps on the shoulder.”

As things deteriorate, and more and more stress comes into the project and the partnership, you are unable to keep all your agreements and promises. This does not happen overnight, it occurs one small thing at a time. A supplier doesn’t get paid on or before the date promised. A client doesn’t get the exact order as promised. A team member’s salary is a few days late with no communication. A deposit is made late. A check bounces, etc.

Slowly but surely your high standards and ideals have been compromised and you find yourself out of integrity with yourself. This causes you to feel ashamed which can be very painful.

In order to deal with the pain of violating your high standards and ideals, the first thing you do is lower your standards and justify these lesser ideals. These lowering of standards come through your language as justification statements that sound like this: “Oh, you can’t do such and such in this business and be successful anyway,” or “Everybody has this problem in this business,” or “In this country, it is normal to pay a few days late and nobody takes any notice of it, so it is no big deal,” or “It is my intention that matters. I am not deliberately misleading people,” etc.

Eventually, a few days late on payments becomes 30, 60, 90 days, etc. If the cycle continues unchecked, you will even justify not paying people at all, in order to pay others. This is often called, “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

The next thing that occurs is that you don’t get paid on or before the date promised. A supplier doesn’t get you the exact order as promised. A payment to you is a few days late with no communication. A deposit is made late. A check bounces on you, etc. In other words, what you have done to others comes back to be done to you…

For you, as a high standard person, you take all this very personally. Your partner appears upset too, however, is more aligned with these lower standards anyway, and will lower their standards further in order to “make it work.” This leads to conflict between you and your partner over keeping agreements and maintaining high standards of conduct and honesty.

At first, you take full responsibility that it must be your problem and your partner reaffirms this. Your partner somehow convinces you to be the front person as your standard of responsibility is higher than theirs. So they will naturally tend towards blaming you and abdicating responsibility to you.

As your standards continue to decline, it becomes more and more painful.

In order to deal with the pain, you lower your standards more and deny that you had higher standards in the first place. Before you know it, you are operating at a very low level of truth, honesty, and standards.  You are much reduced in your power, charisma and confidence to the point of giving up.

It is often at this point that the entire project fails and you experience a paradigm crash. Everything stops working.

To recover from a situation like this takes personal courage to review what actually happened and to reclaim your level of truth, honesty and high standards.

To maintain high standards, it is imperative to connect, work and associate with people of similar or higher standards than you.

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Thoughts about Money

Many of us would agree that our results in life are created by our actions, and our actions are preceded by thoughts, and our thoughts are created by our feelings.  The challenge is that most of us have thoughts and feelings that are hidden deep in the subconscious mind – out of our conscious awareness. The easiest way to see what is in our subconscious is to look at our results.  Our results will reflect the inner workings of our mind.

Over a lifetime, we hear thousands of comments about money and observe the money behavior of the people closest to us:  our parents, relatives, teachers, friends and colleagues.  Many of these comments reinforce patterns of thinking and beliefs that over time become buried in our subconscious.  Our day-to-day experiences confirm and validate that these thoughts and beliefs are true and accurate.

In order to change the relationship we have with money, we have to reprogram our subconscious mind.  This requires replacing negative thoughts and feelings that are inaccurate with positive thoughts and feelings that give us the results we want.

Most people would like to increase their income, however negative thoughts about what they have to do to make more money often counters their intention.  For example, if you have the belief that you have to be dishonest to make money – and you see yourself as an honest person – you will avoid making lots of money so you don’t compromise your status as an honest person.  However, this belief is not true.  You can make as much money as you want through honest means and all the while maintain the highest levels of honesty and integrity.

Making a list of your most negative thoughts about money will help you to bring these deep-seated thoughts and feelings to the surface so you can view them and choose a replacement thought and feeling.

Many years ago, I sat down with a note pad and created two columns.  In the left column, I listed my most negative thoughts about money.  In the right hand column, I wrote a positive affirmation that would reprogram the negative into the positive.

This process totally transformed my relationship to money.  I highly recommend that you make your own list and pay attention to the thoughts that come up as you read the list below.  Feel free to use any of these and add them to your list.

moneythoughts11moneythoughts2

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Confront and the Financial Crisis

With the financial crisis deepening, many of our worst fears are being realized.  With the Waves of Impact continuing to wash over us, we are being confronted by financial losses on a never-before-seen scale. Entire industries are at risk of being wiped out. Previously invulnerable mega-corporations are being brought to their knees. Hidden weaknesses are being exposed.

As individuals, we are being faced with the complete loss or at least dramatic reduction in the value of our retirement accounts. It can feel like we are being confronted on all sides. How do we cope with the uncertainty?

Now is an excellent time to consider the meaning of the word CONFRONT. Most people don’t think about their ability to confront and what can be done to confront difficult situations more easily, more effectively, and with less stress.

Here is the definition of “confront”:

CONFRONT: n. 1. An action of being able to face without flinching or avoiding. 2. The ability to be there comfortably and perceive.

So, confront means to be able to comfortably see what is there without flinching, wanting to withdraw or running away. Often, to fully understand a word, it is easier to look at the opposite. What does “non-confront” mean? It simply means the inability to see what is there.  It is an inability to face something. Why can’t we confront something? Because to confront means PAIN. It is too painful to view, so we withdraw and refuse to look at the area.

Notice that the definition describes confront as an ability? It isn’t something you do, it is an ability that we develop over time. The ability to see more and more of the truth.

There is also what is called “low-confront” which is when a person can confront a little, can see a little of the truth of what is there… but not all of it.

How do you improve your ability to confront? The same way you improve any other ability – focus, attention, and practice, as well as dealing with the pain that had you not confronting the area in the first place.

As you can see, the ability to confront is directly connected to the ability to handle change. If a person can’t confront the future or the unknown, then they will stay in their comfort zone…and remain stuck in the past.

© Goldzone Foundation. All rights reserved.

Towers of Glass, Feet of Clay

royal_bank_building-smallI have been reflecting further about the “financial crisis,” and recalling a book I read in 1982 called Towers of Gold: Feet of Clay – the Canadian Banks, by Walter Stewart.

In a conversation about this with my colleagues I happened to say towers of glass, and perhaps 27 years later, Glass is more descriptive. In 1982, I was working in the oil and gas industry in Canada and this book was written about the Banking Industry, the mortgage crisis and the oil prices. These themes are again relevant in 2009.

In Towers of Gold, the title was based on the Royal Bank in Canada with a gold colored glass tower in Toronto. Gold had more relevance then as some of the money (not much even then) was actually backed by gold bars. Many eons ago, most of it was either made of gold/silver and later backed by it. Now most of our money is floating around electronically in bits and bytes, and the cash is made of plastic, paper and mostly cheaper metals. I have a special account (premier customer – which means more money deposited) with a major international bank, and the interest on this was very low and now has dropped to 0%.

I used to have judgements about people who keep their money in or under the mattress. Now I can laugh at myself because there is not much difference. Judgements are often like that, what goes around comes around. I wish I had some gold bars.

I feel this title reflects what is happening very accurately. Now there are even more towers of glass. There is competition between top cities about who can build the tallest tower, one about half a mile into the sky. Now most of these projects are compromised, and construction financing has been choked almost to death. Containers of steel and glass which were in such short supply (some orders 3 years ahead) were turned around from China and returned to their origin. Each one of these events has an impact on multiple people, industries, and countries. These really are the waves of impact. The waves move around the world faster than the earth spins.

These towers are built to be earthquake proof, tidal wave resistant, fire resistant and all these events are insured. This is where the foundations (the feet of clay) are being stretched beyond anything imaginable. And most will fall short in the test over time… I am refering to the financial foundations and also that of people, relationships, organizations, communities, and countries.

Like the banks, we all have glass towers that we build (what we show the world: the act, the ego, the stuff) and feet of clay (what we are at the core of our being: the real self, the essence, the ordinary humble person). Glass towers are fragile, and someone can always build a taller one.

I see all this as an opportunity to lead where it matters. When the waves of impact hit us, we cannot control the wave, only our response. By building personal foundations that are deep, strong, resilient and mostly invisible to everyone else, we can withstand the waves and even become better human beings. We can choose right action no matter what prevails.

DOW Jones Over One Week Versus Six Months

dowjones_oneweekvsoneyear

Check out this chart!  What I find interesting is that the one-week view of the Dow Jones Industrial Average looks very similar to the six-month view. The chart shows a slow decline, then a cliff, then a slow decline again. The down trend looks at first glance to be very similar.

Some conclusions:

  1. All data must be read within a larger context.
  2. Patterns are clearly repeating.
  3. The trend appears to be downwards.
  4. Have we hit bottom yet? Tell me when you figure that one out!

What Is the Credit Crisis?

Check out the below video about the credit crisis, what caused it, how it is escalating and what the connection is between house owners, brokers, bankers and Wall Street.

Even if you understand the dynamics of the crisis, this video can help you to explain it clearly to others.


Financial Stress

I noted an interesting statistic today.  The most popular post on this BLOG relates to dealing with stress.  This has got me thinking… Since October 2008, what is on most people’s minds is the financial crisis and how this continuing crisis is going to impact our companies, our investments, our finances and our personal lives.

What does financial stress have to do with leadership?  Everything!  If you are feeling nervous, anxious or even outright terror at the thought of not making ends meet, the first person for you to lead is yourself.  It is very difficult to be creative, resourceful and confident when you are dealing with the various mind-numbing hormones we experience as fear.

So how do you lead yourself?

Often (but not always) our mind speculates as to what could happen and we conjure up images of the worst case scenario, which in most cases turns out to be worse than reality.

Leading yourself requires objectivity.  If you consider the worst case scenario versus the best case scenario, first figure out ways you can live with the worst case. Then from this place, you can calmly consider possible courses of action that you could take to avert the worst case.  And in most cases, reality tends to be somewhere in between the worst and the best case.

On the other hand, if you avoid the worst case, pretend it won’t happen (denial), and go on as if nothing is going to happen… you have a very good chance of going through the worst case scenario in reality!

So accepting the worst case allows you to let go of the fear and to think calmly of what can be done with the resources at hand.  Once you have a number of items that you can take action on immediately, a strange thing happens.  Fear turns to confidence… confusion is replaced with clarity.

Having a plan – any plan – is far better than no plan at all.  At least with a plan you have certainty of what you can do.  And if it does not work, you can at least be confident in the knowledge that you succeeded in finding out what does not work.  Then you can try another approach, and another… until you succeed. Accepting the worst case and then having a plan will reduce your stress, especially when you take action on your plan.

Another possibility is to look at the financial crisis as an opportunity. This will empower you to make changes that you would not otherwise make. Oftentimes, when things don’t flow, we have an opportunity to examine why they are not flowing.  Whereas, when the money is easily flowing, we would continue on unchanged and not question what we are doing.

So the financial crisis is an ideal opportunity to re-examine what is flowing and what isn’t so we can make different choices.

Over the next few days and weeks we will write more about stress, the financial crisis and how to cope with it.  Stay tuned.