The Masteries of Money, part one (#681)

Are you a slave to money?

I don’t mean in a literal sense, but how much of what you do around money is because you feel you have to?

Do you do pretty much whatever you’re told to do at work, even when it makes no sense or is even counter-productive?

Do you keep your head down and your opinions to yourself, trying to get through the day without getting in trouble so you can collect your paycheck at the end of the week or the month?

The opposite of slavery is mastery – and when it comes to money, there are four masteries worth mastering so that money stops being an oppressive force in your life and goes back to doing what it does best – helping us exchange goods and services without having to carry live chickens around for trade.

Over the next four weeks, I will be sharing what I consider to be the four masteries of money – that is, the four aspects of money which once mastered, enable you to stop working so hard for money and begin putting money to work for you.

The First Mastery:
Creating Money

One of my favorite stories told to me by my coach, Steve Hardison, was of his first job as a young child.  His mother arranged with a neighbor for Steve to mow his lawn and to be paid for the work that he did.

“Make sure that lawn is beautifully mowed,” his mother told him, and indeed he did a thorough and wonderful job.

After he got home, his mother asked him if he had done the job and done it well.  When he told her that he had, she said “What about the other neighbors lawns?”

“But they haven’t asked me to mow their lawns,” said Steve.  “And besides, they’re not paying me.”

His mother just looked at him and said “Mow them anyway.”

As you might expect (although he certainly didn’t), a couple of neighbors chased him away, a few watched him suspiciously from behind the curtains, and the rest were sufficiently appreciative of his hard work and their newly manicured lawns that he soon had a series of regular jobs and his first weekly income.

This echoed something I once heard in a recording of Earl Nightingale talking about why most people struggled to make money:


Your success will always be measured by the quality and quantity of service you render.
Most people will tell you that they want to make money, without understanding this law. The only people who make money work in a mint. The rest of us must earn money. This is what causes those who keep looking for something for nothing, or a free ride, to fail in life. Success is not the result of making money; earning money is the result of success — and success is in direct proportion to our service.Most people have this law backwards. It’s like the man who stands in front of the stove and says to it: “Give me heat and then I’ll add the wood.” How many men and women do you know, or do you suppose there are today, who take the same attitude toward life? There are millions.

We’ve got to put the fuel in before we can expect heat. Likewise, we’ve got to be of service first before we can expect money. Don’t concern yourself with the money. Be of service … build … work … dream … create! Do this and you’ll find there is no limit to the prosperity and abundance that will come to you.

This made a huge impression on me when I first heard it nearly twenty years ago, because I recognized myself as the man in front of the stove, waiting for someone to recognize my talents, offer me a job, or hire me as their coach.

In fact, it led to the insight that began my own journey to mastery and has guided me in business ever since – that whatever it is I “do for a living”, my real job is to focus on what service I can offer that will make a positive difference in the lives of others, perform that service as best I can, and name my price for doing more of it going forward.

And for those moments when I get a bit fearful or begin to question whether wood precedes fire and fuel precedes heat, I have a simple handwritten slogan on the wall beside my desk:

When in doubt, mow lawns!


1. Ask yourself the following wealth-creating questions (and any others that may occur to you):

  • Who would I love to serve with the gifts that I have?
  • What do they want or need that I would love to provide?
  • What would I love to do that they would love to pay money for?
  • What would be a fun thing to offer?
  • What would make them jump up and down with delight if I could find a way to provide it for them?

2. Choose your favorite possibility that emerges from the questions above and make someone a proposal – that is, offer a product or service to them in exchange for money.

3. Go out and mow a lawn this week.  You can do this literally, or simply find some place to go and be of service before you’ve been asked.  Spot a need, meet the need.  See what happens next…

Have fun, learn heaps, and let the mastery of money begin!



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