A little under a decade ago Trish and I lost all our money. Not lost like we couldn’t remember where we put it, but lost like gone.
We had followed the advice of our financial advisor who recommended a fund that invested exclusively in start-up businesses (the fund he ran, coincidentally). I think you can see where this is going.
He’s actually not a bad guy, just turns out he was a much better at selling than he was at picking companies to invest in. And we had all our money and all our super (a significant six figure sum) in this fund.
At the time it seemed like the worst thing ever. And it was kind of a rough period for us. We were trying to get pregnant and it wasn’t happening for us (and it seemed like every second week another friend or sibling announced a baby on the way). I had a somewhat acrimonious split with my business partner at the time. And losing all our money put a little bit of a dampener on our marriage for a while.
But the funny thing is when you're in the middle of something like this it isn’t the time to judge whether it’s the worst thing ever, or even a bad thing at all. In hindsight we can say it was actually one of the best things that could have happened to us.
As a result we completely changed our relationship to money. It was an expensive lesson, but it would have been a much more expensive one 20 years later (and we would have had 20 less years to recover). I have no doubt that without that experience our spending would have continued to increase as our income increased.
Instead we made a decision to place a premium on reaching financial independence. And we are in a much stronger financial position now as a result.
But much as I’m grateful for the impact the lessons have had on our family, I’m more thankful for the opportunity to use these lessons to help others. There is a meme in the Thought Leaders community, “rock star your income, not your lifestyle,” which comes directly from this experience.
Likewise, we have a strong focus on thought leaders reaching financial independence within a decade as a result of running their practice.
Our blackest moments often have our deepest lessons, and reveal the gifts we have to share with the world.
I caught up just recently with a thought leaders graduate who struggled every step along the way. He was at times paralysed with anxiety, he struggled with the value of his IP, and constantly felt like he must be my most frustrating client. When he left the program I told him that I wanted him back as a member of faculty once he’d reached blue belt. He was a little surprised, but I told him that because of his struggles he would be a much more valuable mentor to anyone else struggling than someone who had sailed through without a hiccup. (He’s now at blue belt pushing red, so I’m expecting to see him back soon).
So if things are tough, don’t be too quick to judge it as a bad thing. Let's make that assessment in a decade from now.