I’d like to tell you the story of the cheese maker and the iPhone.
A client of mine – I’ll call her Jennifer – worked as an investment banker for a big, powerful firm you’ve probably heard of. She was good at this job, but she didn’t like it. She longed to do something totally different – doing entrepreneurial work as some kind of artist or healer. She couldn’t put her finger on exactly what she wanted to do (because she never allowed herself to seriously think about it), but it definitely wasn’t investment banking.
Jennifer was especially intrigued by an artisanal cheese maker. It was honest, creative, exacting work with a hearty, wholesome quality -- all the things she longed for.
“That’s not something I could ever do”, she said. “I don’t want to be poor. I like my iPhone.”
We used this as a starting point to test some of her assumptions about money.
“Is it true that cheese makers don’t have iPhones?”, I asked.
“I don’t know. No. Oh my god, I’m being ridiculous.”
We dug a little deeper and discovered one of Jennifer’s beliefs about work and money. It was this: people who pursue their passions can’t make money doing so.
Jennifer liked to think in black and white. In her mind, you could either do a job you hate and make a ton of cash, or do a job you love and be dirt poor. No iPhone. It was one or the other.
Without knowing it, Jennifer had tied the concepts of fulfilling work and poverty together. The truth is, in any profession, including entrepreneurship, you’ll find a spectrum of people – some who make a little money and some who make a lot.
I think about the cheese maker and the iPhone when I work with people who have money fears, which is pretty much everyone. Maybe, like Jennifer, you have some assumptions about money and enjoyable work. Something like "I’ll never make money doing something I love" or "The only way to make money is to suck it up and stick it out."
Or perhaps you’ve tied together the concepts of money and greed: "People who make money are greedy, evil, (insert your derogatory judgment here)'' or "I can’t make money and still be a good person."
Related to this are assumptions related to money and worthiness: "I’m not worthy of money'' or "Other people get to make money. Not me.''
Maybe you link money and happiness together: "I’ll be happier when I have a lot of money" or "I have to make a lot of money now so I can be happy later."
Many people have assumptions about money and time: "When I have a lot of money I’ll have more free time" or a related one, "To make a lot of money you have to give up all of your time.''
The list goes on. And on. And on. Think about your own assumptions about money. Are they getting in your way? Perhaps it’s time you rewrote some of those stories.
Related: Don't Get Stuck in a Job You Hate