Today's post cover's Suze Orman and Dr. Phil. I'll warn you, it's a lengthy post, but probably as long as it will get for the week - so hang with me!
Who spoke? Suze Orman
Two-time Emmy Award winner Suze Orman has been called "a force in the world of personal finance," and has been O, The Oprah Magazine's go-to gal since the first issue. For 11 years, Suze has hosted the award-winning Suze Orman Show on CNBC and is nine-time consecutive New York Times best-selling author. Suze was twice named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world today. She has garnered an unprecedented seven Gracie awards, which recognize the nation's best programming for, by and about women. Orman grew up on the South Side of Chicago, earned a bachelor's degree in social work at the University of Illinois, and at the age of 30 was still a waitress making $400 a month. Suze appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show 26 times, produced The Money Class series for OWN, and is the host of The Suze Orman Show on CNBC. [official bio from the O YOU! program]
No doubt Suze Orman is a financial wizard. Not only that, but she is a woman and 61 years old. She emphasized the importance of women learning about their financial standings straight from the get-go. Women tend to not necessarily pay attention to their finances as closely as they ought simply because they are often preoccupied with placing their attention elsewhere, namely others. "We [women] know how to take care of everybody so well, but the one person we've taken out of the equation is us."
She then told her own journey to fame and fortune. She grew up under adverse and troubling circumstances, as a minority in South Chicago and quite poor. While working as a waitress in a small bakery, making $400 a month at the age of 30, she didn't have her sights set on grand goals for her future. An elderly customer gave her a gift totaling $50,000 to go and change her life and pay him back if and when she could. She brought the money to Merrill Lynch where it was lost through a crooked investor within a few months. She then went to work for them, sued them, and got her money back. This loss of $50,000, though terrifying at the time, ended up being the "gift" that eventually led her to where she is today.
"Be where you are in the moment you are there, and that path will lead you exactly where you want to be."
"Every NO leads you closer to a YES."
"The six greatest words you could say are 'I admit that I was wrong'."
"God shows you who you are meant to be by showing you how strong you are."
"Choose the RIGHT thing to do, not the EASY thing."
"God allows U-Turns."
Those are just a few of the quotes Suze threw in throughout her personal tale of rags to riches. She said that FEAR was the greatest internal obstacle to wealth and that you need to not be afraid to say NO to others. She said your actions, thoughts, and words need to be unified/one and that "Your thoughts create your destiny."
Suze was very big on the power that thought has in one's life. She said you should think great thoughts. That thoughts need to be kind, necessary, and true and that you should forget anything else that isn't those things, just get rid of those other thoughts because thoughts are what turn into actions and actions into habits and habits into destiny.
She was able to repay her $50,000 debt to her elderly customer friend, and after a couple years went by she finally heard from him. He sent her a letter that said he was sorry for the delay but he had suffered a stroke and her money had come at the perfect time. He thanked her for the privilege of helping her, and that's when it struck her that the true gift is in the giving.
Women give too much and take too little. You need to realize that you are in debt to the people you GIVE to.
"Power attracts money and powerlessness repels it. Money has no power on its own." Suze went on to say that we have a choice to use money to either invest, save, or waste as we deem fit. That power attracts people and people attract money, and therefore power attracts money. But, debt is bondage. Debt is powerlessness. You must stop debt and regain your power.
Suze asked who had debt and meant it as a rhetorical question, but one brave woman stood up. Then, she laughed a little and said well, why don't we go ahead and stand up if we have credit card debt! Several women stood. Then she asked those people to stand who had any kind of debt: mortgage, cars, student loans, anything. Then she said "Tell the person next to you how much debt you have."
There seemed to be a collective sigh of compassion across the room. Nobody gasped in judgement. Nobody scoffed or mocked. She offered total acceptance, yet went on to emphasize the brutal importance of ridding yourself of that bondage. Suze is deliberate in her priorities, however, always reminding the audience that the order of importance in life is/should be: People, then money, then things.
"You can't solve a money problem with money," she said. "You are already perfect with or without money." But, she offered 3 Money Laws to change where you are today into taking a step towards your best life:
1. Get as much pleasure out of saving as spending.
2. Live BELOW your means but within your NEEDS.
3. Before you purchase anything, decide whether it is a WANT or a NEED.
She added that you should say no to WANTS out of love for yourself.
Suze closed with what she calls her "Five Laws of Life":
1. May every thought you think be etched in fire in the sky for the whole world to see, for in fact it is.
2. May every word that you say be said as if everyone in the world could hear it, for in fact they can.
3. May every deed that you do recoil on top of your head, for in fact it will.
4. May every wish that you wish another be a wish that you wish for yourself, because in fact it is.
5. May everything you do be done as if God Herself is doing it, for in fact She is.
What did I think?
I gotta say, I liked Suze Orman a lot more than I anticipated. Having seen her on Oprah's show in the past, I knew that she could be a rather in-your-face, abrasive, tell-it-like-it-is-whether-you-like-it-or-not kind of expert. But, I also knew that she sure knew a heck of a whole lot more about money than I did, and as we are chipping our way through bondage (er, I mean, debt) I figured this was a great opportunity to listen up and learn something.
Her story is pretty remarkable. Obviously anyone who can go from earning $400 a month and thinking that was pretty great to then making the NYTimes Best Seller list (and the accolades go on and on) is nothing short of extraordinary. That's just crazy-business, really! Impressive, yes.
And, let's be honest here, she's got some things RIGHT ON. I am familiar with Dave Ramsey and have been through Crown Financial Ministries myself, so I do have an understanding when it comes to what is being taught about "stewardship" in the Christian community today. That is to say, the Church has come a long way (no doubt the recession has prompted more and more need for these financial ministries) when it comes to talking about money as Christians. But, I'd like to challenge us to take it a step further, and Suze is what got me thinking about this.
Empowering women to understand their own finances and the financial needs of their family specifically is a great idea. Many Christian households have one bread-winner, typically the male, and many times that male is the financial advisor of the home. Not only that, but let's just call a turkey a turkey and put it out there: a lot of women don't know crap when it comes to their money. Boom. That's the truth.
Can you tell the person next to you exactly how much debt you have? Do you know the interest rate on your student loan? Do you have a living trust for your children in case something happens to you? Can you tell me what an IRA is? (No, seriously, can you tell me because I still don't understand exactly?)
Money for women is often intimidating, burdensome, and even boring. It's one of those topics we are happy to hand the reigns over to the man just so we don't have to calculate how much we can spend on groceries this week. Just give me the credit card or the cash and let me worry about the coupons and do the best I can. Done.
Lots of couples avoid the topic of money all together, until it becomes a volatile discussion or worse. This isn't to say that every man out there already knows or understands all of this either, but then that is an even scarier thought for us women in the unknown - handing over reigns to an intimidating topic we aren't willing to learn about ourselves and just hoping he knows what he's doing. But, what's to happen if there is a divorce or a death? It's not fun to think about, but it is reality.
All this to say, the Church could bridge this gap more closely. The Bible has a LOT to say about money, and while we are tackling subjects like tithing and stewardship, it wouldn't hurt to take the gals of the congregation aside and explain some simple money subjects that they can learn for the health and protection of their family. Couple communication about finances should be greatly encouraged. Honesty and trust should be partnered and revered when discussing such sensitive topics.
But, Suze (no shock here) didn't get everything right, in my opinion. It's funny to me how she so easily and dynamically slipped in "self-help" topics between her financial tips. She would be the first to say that they go hand-in-hand and you simply have to deal with who you are and what your purpose and value are as a human before you even start to evaluate your things or money. But, when she mentions how "thoughts create destiny" and how "God shows you who you are meant to be by showing you how strong you are" I just can't agree.
You have purpose from the very beginning. Your value in God's eyes never changes. But, God already knows who you are, there's nothing new to be revealed to Him. Ever. We may be in constant discovery of who we envision ourselves to be, but it's not by being shown how strong or weak we are. We only discover ourself by being shown how strong God is. His strength, not ours, is our goal. His thoughts, not ours, is our ambition. His identity, not ours, is the ultimate objective.
You can bank on that. Pun intended.
Who spoke? Dr. Phil McGraw
Dr. Phil has motivated millions to create more positive lives. That's why he is one of the hosts of Ask Oprah's All Stars and a regular contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine. His own show, Dr. Phil, has made psychology accessible and understandable to the general public by addressing important personal and social issues. He takes on critical issues and educates viewers about the best treatment options for the most challenging of problems facing people today. Dr Phil is the author of six top New York Times best-sellers and is a regular on news programs such as The Today Show and Good Morning America. Dr. Phil lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Robin. The couple have two sons, Jay and Jordan, and two grandchildren from son Jay and his wife, Erica. [official bio from the O YOU! program]
You can either live the life CHOSEN or the life ASSIGNED...but, you can't not choose. You must participate. You must make choices. You should make choices consciously - choose truth, choose joy, choose peace, and claim what you want for your life.
In Dr. Phil's book Life Strategies he talks about a "Law of Life" and "You either GET IT or you don't". Some people just don't get it. He told a very animated and hilarious tale recounting a time when he was 16 and foolish. He and some friends got caught drag racing, were pulled over by a cop, and one of the kids mouthed off to the cop and got his chops busted. That kid just didn't get it.
We live in a changing world. Experts say that our entire world's knowledge base is now doubling every 4 years. Whoa.
"You truly determine what happens in your life, and your personal truth (that is, what you believe about yourself when no one is looking) generates results you believe you deserve." When you compare your personal truth to other people's social mask, you basically undermine your best life.
You need to learn how to take care of yourself and your family - and you must understand that it is "NOT SELFISH TO PUT YOURSELF #1 ON YOUR LIST"
"You can't give away what you don't have."
"We don't need martyrs - we need mothers."
He recounted a story with his father shortly before his father passed away. He said that in his terminal state, his father could look back on his life - the whole of it - and see milestones rising out of the timeline of his life. He could see this vision of what was really important, and moments that truly became turning points in his life that clearly altered the direction his life took.
We need to try and learn to recognize these milestones/turning points in the present. We need to pay attention and try to understand the ramifications of what we are really doing/saying/modeling.
93% of communication is non-verbal. What are you really telling others? What are you really modeling for your kids? YOU make a statement - know what it is and OWN it. Let that statement motivate you.
Success throughout history leaves clues for us. Dr. Phil has always studied success/successful people, even from an early age, and has seen specific patterns in successful people that has determined how success doesn't just happen by accident. YOU can be successful too.
Clues of Success:
1. People see what success is, they can see exactly what they want - you have to name it to claim it!
2. Successful people have a strategy. The only difference between goals and dreams is a TIMELINE. Every day, you should work for what you WANT and not what you don't want.
3. The universe rewards ACTION. Successful people take action towards a known outcome. BEHAVE your way to success. Winners do things losers don't want to do.
4. Successful people are willing to take a RISK.
5. Deal with the TRUTH. Deal with reality/truth and work the problem. Be proactive.
6. Every successful person has supporters - they built a system that believed in them. A system that wants you to succeed.
7. Successful people have passion. They live through their heart, not their ideas, and are driven. People bond heart to heart, not head to head. That is, supporters are won over because of your passion. You need to believe in what you do and your "support nucleus" needs to believe in you. Get excited about it - model this for your kids.
What did I think?
Or should I say, "How's that workin for me?" (A little humor for the Dr. Phil fans out there, right?) Well, I've always liked Dr. Phil. He's a sharp-shooter and a former Texan (or is it once a Texan, always a Texan?), and I like his candor. I like how he calls it like he sees it, and oftentimes he tells people exactly what we want him to tell them but don't know how to put it into words (or at least, in cool phrases that somehow include analogies to opossums or guns or something).
I like that Dr. Phil motivates with psychology. Even his bio clarifies how he has made "psychology understandable" for many, and I love that about him. He doesn't offer much advice that is easy to argue with. He speaks in solid phrases that are simple and powerful, and very very often true. His bumbling barbarism is adorably contrasted by the wisdom out of his mouth, and there is something very is-this-bear-going-to-hug-me-or-eat-me about him that keeps us all on the edge of our seats.
I think you can take the majority of what Dr. Phil says to heart. Much of it is easily applicable to every day life, and when you put it into action I believe you can witness results. (Can you feel the "however" coming?)
However, there is a fundamental flaw in his advice. The fact that he defines "personal truth" again and again as "what you believe about yourself when no one is looking" and how that determines your life by generating results you believe you deserve. That, we wear these "social masks" and then take them off only when we are alone, and therefore we project what we think we deserve for our life and destiny follows suit.
This just doesn't hold up. It sounds logical at first, but think about it for a while. There's a lot of really terrible people out there living happy lives. There's a lot of selfless people living in poverty. There's a lot of arrogant people failing. There's a lot of losers out there raking it in.
Sure, I do think that there are many people who have been hurt by people who then unconsciously seek out relationships that take advantage of them simply because they feel that's as far as their value takes them. I get that he's addressing these people and these kinds of situations, and that's true sometimes. But, if we truly are our true truest self when no one is looking...and yet, the goal is to become "successful" by building a supportive nucleus of "believers-in-us" around ourselves...then, what difference does it make who we really are? You can't have it both ways.
If that were true, then either what YOU believe about yourself determines what happens in your life, or what OTHERS believe about yourself determines what happens in your life. And, in fact, I would argue to say that it is neither of these options.
Here's the truth. YOU are an OTHER. There is us, and there is God. There are lies, and there is truth. There is darkness, and there is light. And, reaching your highest potential (i.e. your greatest success) isn't dependent upon your belief in yourself, what others think of you, or even the actions you take. Your "success" is wholly determined in your dependence upon God. By increasing your dependence on God, you decrease your need for independence. By decreasing your need for independence, your definition of true success becomes solely focused on pleasing Him (obedience), praising Him (gratitude), and practicing His ways (service to others). Either you are going to trust Him or not. Either you are going to accept that He wants what is best for you, or you aren't.
It sounds magical and lovely to think about sitting in the present and being able to grasp and recognize the full potential and impact of every moment, every ramification of our actions and therefore be able to completely alter our future based upon our evaluation of our current circumstances. But, it's kind of bologna. Beautiful, magical, lovely bologna...but, bologna.
But, there's good news! We have a God who is OMNISCIENT so we don't have to be! Hallelujah!
You don't have to worry why your projected personal truth didn't get you that job promotion you were so sure you deserved...you already have a Savior with a plan who can see that staying in your current position will keep you from being fired a year from now.
You don't have to be concerned with why your belief in yourself didn't pan out in your not getting pregnant on the first try (or second or third...or twentieth) when you have a Lord who has a sweet baby waiting to be adopted just by you.
And you don't have to hide when your social mask can't cover up your tears any longer when your sin becomes unbearable and your strength is lost...it's never too much for the only support nucleus you'll ever really need in your Jesus who is waiting for you, forever and always.
Now, that's what I call living your best life.