Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What’s The One Act Of Kindness That Many People Label Selfish? 9th Letter to BodyChance Students

In my 9th letter to BodyChance students in Japan: imagine you were flush with ideology and zeal, believing Alexander's Discoveries are a great gift to the world that you are resolved to give, but now years later you are shell of your fiery self, with no money or prospects, and wondering what went wrong… (that was me)


SUBJECT: What’s The One Act Of Kindness That Many People Label Selfish?

Dear Seito-san,

Wilkins Micawber, a character in Charles Dickens book David Copperfield, once famously declared:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

I started life as a firebrand, a person brimming with zeal and purpose: I didn’t care about money then – the gambles I took were often breathtaking – but I noticed this tendency I had: whatever came in, just a little more went out. I was a Micawber waiting to happen.

I didn’t mind about that until I got married and had two children, then suddenly worrying about money for one, was worrying about money for four. As I started my school in Japan, the same tendency continued – I was always a little short. This kept going on until one day I decided to do something about it…

I realized, that unless I put making excess income for myself and my company first, I was always going to be struggling, and not able to build the dream the firebrand had carried around for so many years. Up to now, I didn’t think money was important – it will look after itself was my philosophy, as long as I am true to me. Well, I was OK, but money kept occupying considerable brain space on a daily basis. Finally, as my business started to crash, I noticed how I kept ignoring this daily truth…

When travelling on a plane we have all heard the advice:

...make sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to help someone else put on theirs.

It’s a principle familiar to anyone involved in Alexander Technique: how you look after another person is through prioritizing your self!

Are you getting confused about that principle? Are you planning to teach low-paying but worthy clients? Actors are a good example of that: great pupils, lousy payers. Teach a few for sure, but also seek clients who are reliable and pay what you ask. Don't end up with students who are late on paying and late for your lessons. If you do, be brave enough to fire them – and seek out pupils who oxygenate your life. Be kind to you first - people might call you selfish, but I call you kind to you.

Don’t get me wrong – these days I am generous to the genuine, but I have discovered that nearly everyone tries to save a coin or two if they can. I am the same. We all are – it’s part of our biological drive to conserve resources. Nothing wrong with haggling.

Once I had this realization for BodyChance - “We have to make a profit!” - and started to act upon it, three things happened:
  • BodyChance began attracting more people
  • My reputation suffered
  • BodyChance's possibilities expanded.

Oh and yes, we started to show a modest profit.

In the past, my effort to be kind to others was often based on a desire to look good – it worked, but it also cost me. In truth, I wasn’t really being kind to me. I wonder how kind you are being to your self?

Aiming for a good income is not about the actual money, it’s about the motivation you have for making money: what will you do when you have it? Get clear on that part. Morality does not come from the paper note, but from the way you think about it. People act as though it is wanting the money that corrupts - it isn’t. It’s you holding that currency that imputes meaning into it.

So what can you do?

Try this exercise. Write down on a blank page all the opinions you have about people with money. What do you think of the rich? No-one will read your list, so be free and fearless in expressing your true opinions. Once you have finished, look at your descriptions and ask this question: “Do I want to be that person?”

Most people who sincerely do this exercise realize where the true obstacles to their success lie. If a “rich person” has a negative self-image for you, why would ever want to be financially successful?

Your beliefs about what is necessary to be financially successful are going to be the only reasons that keep you from attaining it. There’s power in that, and responsibility.

Doesn’t that sound familiar?



PS If you are feeling stuck and want to ask questions, join my circle of friends in FaceBook by putting in a friend request here: There's lots of interesting discussions going on there about my blog!

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