You can play “Monopoly,” but you can’t live on Park Place.

Yesterday we had a wonderful teleconference, blending THE ANCIENT CHILD, the SECRET FORMULA,  and of course LIFEWRITING.   I cheated (as I often do) by specifically applying Lifewriting (application of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and the Yogic Chakras to writing, the process of writing, and life itself) to the question of money.  We did this by analyzing a terrific film, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS.


You can get the entire recording, free, at (and I recommend that you do.   And by the way–you only have until midnight tonight to get the special price on the fully 10-week workshop!) but I thought I’d “unpack” it a little.


If “Mastery” is defined as unconscious competence in your basics, and that is achieved through daily practice and focus, then to reach mastery of your finances means that any basic aspect of them needs to be integrated into your daily habits.  “Chop wood, carry water.”   “The Way Is In Training”.  


Lets look at this in the four arenas:

  • Body.  Every day you eat, you should move.    Health, then fitness, then skill.  Aim to create a body that would attract YOU.  Perfection: one minute of exercise for every year of your age, 6-7 days a week.
  • Mind.  Seek excellence in your career, modeling the masters. In writing: read 10X what you write, write a story a week/every other week, put it in the mail, keep it in the mail until it sells.  Or 1000 words a day, making adjustments for the length and nature of the project.
  • Emotions.  Meditate daily, connecting with your heart.  Connect with the people you love EVERY DAY, and communicate “I love you” in THEIR love-language.   Seek to serve your community in some way.  Seek to begin and end every day with joy and gratitude.
  • Finances.  Check your finances daily (using, say,, save 10% of your gross income to pass to your grandchildren, children, nieces and nephews, as an endowment to your community, or for your retirement.


You might argue with the particulars, but can you see how someone who integrated these behaviors (and the attitudes and emotions that drive them) on a daily basis would be a rather interesting person?


Now, let’s break down the “finances” question more fully.    And this is one that has deviled me: I made myself very good at MAKING money, but was a moron about MANAGING it for most of my life.  Ugh.  Hard to admit.  But if I can’t tell the truth about it, I can’t use the pain to help me change.


If you aren’t good with money, you almost certainly have negative attitudes and beliefs about it.  Heck, if you grew up in poverty or even middle-class, where in the world were you supposed to learn about wealth?  Well, if that was you, you need to start reading biographies, listening to interviews, researching or meeting people who started “about” where you started, and got “about” where you want to go.    If you believe you are such a special snowflake that no one has ever had your dreams or fought your dragons, you are probably being blinded by fear, or are asleep to how common most human issues really are, and need to wake the #$%% up.


There are endless books on the subject, and I strongly suggest that you look at some of the ones that have been around for generations and have hundreds of positive reviews on AMAZON, as well as recommendations by people whose success you admire.   Seek to find the “critical path” of commonality in their approaches.  If you have access to real, life, wealthy people (or study them) take at least three, study their beliefs, values, and daily actions and see what THEY have in common. Constantly research and test your theories.  At this moment, here are five basic components:


  • The acceptance of adult responsibility.   They expect no one to take care of them, know that no one owes them anything, and grasp that “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.”  In “Pursuit of Happyness” this is symbolized (or externalized) through Will Smith’s homeless man’s relationship with his son, Jaden.  If he doesn’t find work, his son suffers.    If you don’t take adult responsibility, your dreams will die.
  • They commit to creating goods and services their communities crave. They model successful people, find out what it takes to do what they do, and commit to learning to do that.   “What does it take to be a stockbroker?”   Smith asks.  “Good with numbers, good with people.”  It matched his skills, and matched his values and self-image.
  • They take massive action.   Every day, morning to night. There is no way to do this unless your brakes are off.  You have to have a dream bright enough.  You have to acknowledge your fear, and keep those dragons BEHIND you rather than in front of you until you are strong enough to slay them.  Keep your fear behind you, your love in front of you, and run like hell.   
  • They commit to CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT.  At least 1% per week.  Learn one new thing daily, and this is a snap.   Remember the 10,000 hour rule. In the movie he is studying in the dead of night.
  • They master MARKETING and SALES.   Marketing is convincing people that they need your goods or services.  Sales is convincing them that they need YOUR brand.  NOW.  In the movie he leverages his likeability by constantly connecting with people.   Helping them strategically.  Bonding himself to potential allies.   According to “Think And Grow Rich”, “mastermind” partners are the only known way of compensating for lack of ability.   I think this is true.   I’ve had the honor of writing over a million words with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.    These men are smarter than I.  Do you think this is an accident..?  If so, as Bugs Bunny says, “you don’t know me too well, do you?”
  • They master COLLECTIONS.  They get the money that is owed them.  They are TIGERS about it, too. They do not play.  In the movie, Smith is working for an established organization with a reputation for paying their employees, and being positioned to get paid as they provide services.  As a writer, you have to either master this yourself, or attract allies who are ruthless enough to GET YOUR MONEY.  My agent, the wonderful Eleanor Wood, is a shark in goldfish’s clothing.  I love her, yes I do.
  • They PROTECT the money once they have it.   Easiest basic rule?  SAVE AT LEAST 10% OF WHAT YOU EARN, OFF THE TOP, to be passed to the next generation, used in retirement, or given as an endowment in your will. The cascade of emotional changes, values, beliefs, behaviors, strategies, life lessons and more that will come from this single change is MASSIVE.  We don’t see this in the movie, but we know that he opened his own investment firm later, the implication being that he is helping others apply this formula.  He also sold a partial interest in this firm for millions.  I think it’s not much of an extrapolation to hope he was smart enough to take his own advice.  This has been a hellish area for me, because getting paid irregularly in lumps can create the same “feast or famine” thinking that sabotages diets: when food supplies are scarce, we binge.  So my strategy: every Friday I transfer 10% of whatever is in my checking account into my retirement/savings account.   It’s working great.


There are other principles, but I’m going to bet that if money is a problem in your life, the problem will be in one of these seven, most probably in:


  • Creating goods and services desired by a large enough section of the public to support you.  
  • Master marketing and sales so that they know you are the answer to your problem and are motivated to take positive action (opening their wallets.  NOW)
  • Collecting the money you are owed.
  • Protecting and saving at least 10% of everything you get.  One dime out of every dollar is YOURS.  Paid “off the top”–before you pay ANYONE else.
  • Committing to constant 1% weekly improvement in all of these four arenas.

The emotional focus required to work at these things every day (the only path to master), is rare, but doable.  In fact, you MUST master the emotional aspects of this game, or you will never apply your intellectual knowledge.   Knowledge without action, that does not create positive change, is by definition “trivial.”  I’m not suggesting that you play “Monopoly” with real money–few of us have those ambitions.  But definitely, I’m suggesting you avoid spending your life playing “Trivial Pursuit” and patting yourself on the back for all the useless information floating around in your head.  If it doesn’t decrease your pain and increase your pleasure, functionally, you are less wise than an ant or an amoeba.  

Let’s evolve together, shall we?



(And PLEASE grab your free download of the full teleconference. And see if the LIFEWRITING 10-WEEK program is right for you–the price goes up at midnight pst!   WWW.LIFEWRITINGWORKSHOP.COM)

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