I was recently called a parasite.
I was having drinks with fellow coaches after a conference. We were laughing and chatting around a circular pub table when one of them said she’d been watching my business focus shift over the last few years as I’d moved from talking about the Transition Town movement and Green Party MPs to “how to make money”.
Passionately, she looked me in the eye. “You’re a parasite! You sold out.”
I could have been offended. But the funny thing is, I understood where she was coming from. If I had been her, I might have felt exactly the same. I might have thought that people who make money by helping others make money were like players in a pyramid scheme.
And it dawned on me: “Oh… you think I care about the money! You think that because I help people make money, my passion is for the pound signs. You think I stopped caring about all those things I used to talk about – like stewardship of our planet and community cohesion and personal empowerment – and started caring about money instead.”
Have you thought this too… about yourself?
I heard this perspective from the lips of someone else. You might have had a similar experience, or you might have noticed an internal dialogue along these lines, a little voice in your head saying that you’ll be judged as “selling out” if you start making really good money doing this good work. That your generosity and big heart will be polluted by focusing on profitability. That you won’t be a good person anymore if you care about making money. That you might go for a drink and get called a parasite.
So, this feels like a great opportunity to articulate the extent to which I care about money, and why it’s so important for you to focus on profitability.
It’s precisely because you’re not doing it for the money that means you need to make good money doing this good work.
I’ll say that again: you’re not doing it for the money, and so it’s important that you make money.
You’re not doing it for the money – and yet until you earn a solid, consistent income doing what you love, you can’t keep doing this work. You have to do other work that is less fulfilling in order to pay the bills.
It’s not about the money and yet until you make money, it’s about the money. See the irony?
We need to address the money piece so that we can get back to what it’s really about. By keeping an eye on the profitability of our ventures, we can enable our work to truly be not about the money.
We have to allow the money struggle to fade away. We have to allow the other soul-depleting jobs to drop away. When you sell out your workshops, your sessions, your classes – that’s the only kind of selling out that is happening.
When you sell out in this way, you can forget about the money and focus on what truly matters. (Which is what – for you? Just pause right now and remember and know that you won’t lose this passion when the money starts flowing in. In fact, you’ll have far more brain space for it.)
By paying attention to money, we actually make money less important.
Here’s a parallel example… I used to lead an LGBT (les-bi-gay-trans) youth group in Cambridge. We met every Tuesday evening in a cosy room with sofas, games, books and hot drinks and we’d chat about school, careers, new romances, upcoming events, family issues – all the usual teenage stuff. One day, one of the boys said to me, “I love coming here precisely because it’s not about being gay. That bit which always marks me out as different at school? It’s just invisible here. It’s normal, it’s a given.” Because sexual orientation was the primary focus of the group, our time together became about everything other than sexual orientation.
By focusing on money to a healthy degree, you can make your life’s path about everything other than making money. You’ll find yourself free to focus on the people you are here to serve, the passion you are here to share, the unique message that is yearning to come through you.
I have a vision that one day it’ll be so normal for people to earn a healthy living doing work they love that I never have to write or speak about this subject again! Mine will be a redundant perspective, because it’ll be so obvious to everyone that it’s the only way a happy, thriving society can work.
And until then, while it’s still a rarity, I’ll keep doing this work and helping you with the kind of “selling out” that matters.
Over to you
Is it “selling out” to make good money doing good work? Is this an internal belief, or one you’ve inherited from others?
Or have you found that receiving a healthy income doing what you love is liberating and allows you to focus on what matters most?
Leave a comment below, join the discussion.
p.s. I have space for two more 1-1 coaching clients. If you’re keen to make enough money so you can dedicate your time to what matters most, click here for details. Or come and be inspired by a few of these Success Stories to get a sense for what coaching support could help you achieve.
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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes, 2012