Rice Bowl Issues

I first heard this concept from Dr. Stephen Covey. I’ve heard him speak about it, and he wrote about it in Principle Centred Leadership.

Essentially it links money with survival. Your rice bowl is a metaphor for how you feed yourself. And if you threaten someone’s income, it can feel like you are threatening their survival, and they will react accordingly.

Interestingly, in China ‘iron rice bowl’ is a term used to refer to an occupation with guaranteed job security, as well as steady income and benefits.

I think it’s smart to set up your practice and your life so that your rice bowl is safe. Some heuristics I have for this are:

  • keep 3 months operating expenses in your practice bank account

  • have six months living expenses somewhere easily accessible (like a cash or offset account)

  • live on significantly less than you earn

For me following these means when I’m having sales conversations and making spending decisions in my practice, I’m not in survival mode. I’m not coming from fear.

Of course, at another level I know that my survival isn’t actually threatened no matter what any bank balance says. I realise that all of these hacks are psychological tricks that help get around the fact that we’re all dysfunctional around money, that have us be powerful in the money domain. And these are some of the hacks that work for me.