Dollars and Sense

Dollars and Sense

Tax time is here – that stressful time of year when we get to go through the last 365 days of our financial history in the hopes we might be lucky enough to see a little bit returned to us, maybe avoid having to pay anything back and prevent the disaster of all disasters … being audited. The fact that it is costing us more to take care of our daily needs and the economy is so unstable, cranks the stress up even more in regards to our money.

So here is the truth about STRESS and MONEY.

It is a physiological and biological fact that STRESS makes us STUPID. Stressing about money … makes us REALLY Stupid.

The pressure we feel in regards to our finances actually does things to our Intelligence system that causes us to make unwise, impractical or just plain dumb decisions when it comes to our cash. In a continuously circulating system that gains momentum as it feeds on itself … our money worries put us in a position of creating more money worries, which causes more stress, which causes more ineffective financial focus, which causes us to make bad choices, which causes more money worries. You get the picture.

The human brain over tens of thousands of years, has developed specific areas to process language, store memory, practice empathy, create works of art and a myriad of other intricate skills that make us human. But there is no area in the brain that has developed to handle the ‘concept/idea or practice of money’ – there is no ‘occipital cash lobe’ that gives us the ability to be brilliant with our ‘quan’.

Money is a relatively new human invention – dating back to about 9000 BC when the first bartering practices were recorded, and has gradually, over time, morphed into the paper (and now digital exchange) that we all know and fear so well. But the greater meaning of money for virtually every one on the planet – is that it has become a system, a means, a symbol of SURVIVAL . In our modern society, if you don’t have money … you don’t survive. And that can be stressful, especially as you watch the balance in your bank account begin to dwindle.

Now of course, most of us are very, very far from the threat of not being able to survive. (I am not speaking of those who face destitute poverty in our society – Yes, I know those poor souls are out there) But for the MAJORITY of us, because money has become so ingrained as a SURVIVAL tool – the fear of not having enough of it or losing the bit that we have – activates our ancient primal instincts … and those instincts are NOT money wise.

When a system (human or otherwise) is in SURVIVAL mode (stressed out/under threat/at risk of losing something important) – the parts of the brain that are involved in higher, more evolved and intelligent thought processing … actually shut down! The areas of your Intelligence system that can guide you to efficient, effective or wise money choices are turned off, so the body can take care of the survival issues it believes are crucially pending.

When you are worried about keeping your job, or how you will pay your bills, or whether the stock market is going to plunge, or whether the stack of chips you just placed on ‘RED’ is going to pay off … or when you are being pressured to make a decision about an investment, or told there is a threat of missing out on an opportunity (which is how the stock market, real estate and car sales ALL operate), your body switches into a form of ‘Survival Mode’. While you are in this agitated state – it is impossible to be financially intelligent.

The reason the #1 cause of Divorce is ‘Money Worries’ is because when people are stressed about money (or worried about ANYTHING for that matter) the ability to effectively think, communicate, empathize or consider another living being are completely obliterated. When any system is in survival mode – it truly becomes a battle for survival of the fittest … and it is impossible to develop, nurture or sustain a relationship of any kind in that circumstance.

Here are some simple and practical ways we can activate our Intelligence system to be ‘Money Wise’:

#1 – NEVER MAKE A FINANCIAL DECISION WITH A DEADLINE. The pressure of ‘missing out on something’ activates the adrenaline in your body and shuts down the mental skills required to make a wise decision. If someone pressures you to make a financial commitment because ‘time is running out’ … let them know you need some space and politely excuse yourself to a place where you can take a deep breath, relax and get centered before taking action. Scarcity and time constraints are the big guns used by high pressure salesmen, auctioneers and the stock market … and we all know how we feel about them. There will always be another opportunity to spend wisely.

You can use this knowledge to benefit YOUR bottom line and SAVE money if you know that the seller needs to meet a deadline. (Like at the end of the month at car dealers or a must sell situation in real estate.) Because the sellers Intelligence system will be under stress and YOURS is balanced, you will have the upper hand and should be able to negotiate a better price for yourself.

#2 – NEVER SHOP (for anything) WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. We have all had those days when we have gone into the grocery store when our stomachs were empty and ended up coming home with 5 bags of groceries with barely an ounce of nutritional value in any of them. When our bodies are depleted nutritionally, either because we haven’t eaten for several hours, or we have been eating a lot of empty calories – our body goes into a mild state of ‘starvation mode’, this triggers ‘survival’ chemistry to become active in our system. And as we have learned; if a body/brain/intelligence system is in Survival mode – higher intelligence and rational cognitive function does not work.

If you are going to make an important purchase, be sure you have provided your body with some good, healthy nutrition before you agree to the sale. (This may also be why people who broker big deals that are meant to be win/win will do it together over a meal.)

#3 – LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR STRESS. Making any sort of financial decision whether it is buying a home or a new pair of shoes can be risky business if you are doing it while in an incoherent or aggravated state of emotion. ‘Retail Therapy’ is a common term when someone goes shopping to feel good, numb their pain or distract their attention; depression, anger, loneliness, insecurity or grief are all great triggers for spending. Scientists have discovered that the very same parts of the brain that are activated by sex, drugs and addiction are the parts stimulated when we spend money. The brain cannot tell the difference between the former and the latter … it is all just chemical stimulation to our nervous system and it doesn’t matter how we get ‘the fix’ … we just know we feel good while we are doing it.

Developing a regular routine of relaxation or meditation will help alleviate all of the stressors that are presented to you throughout the day. When you are able to manage the thoughts, emotions and perceptions that cause your body to react stressfully and as a result can manage the chemicals that activate Intelligence, then your ability to navigate through any situation, financial or otherwise will be greatly enhanced. Take a walk in nature, go for a swim, take a moment to look at some beautiful artwork … all of these practices will regulate your nervous system and your ‘Wealth Wisdom’ will be activated.

#4 – DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Going into any situation, financial or otherwise, where you feel you are outwitted, or someone is smarter than you, has more information or knows some ‘secret’ that you do not – activates the stress hormones that keep us from being MONEY WISE. Why? Because our ancient animal brains perceive this ‘better person’ as a threat. The survival instinct is to associate with the smartest, strongest, most potent animal in the herd, and when we feel weaker, or dumber, or less informed … our bodies automatically go into fight or flight.

If you are making a big purchase, buying a home, investing in the stock market, buying a car … DO YOUR HOMEWORK. The Internet puts loads of detailed and objective information at your fingertips and there is no excuse for not gaining as much information as you can prior to sitting down to negotiate a deal or spending a single penny. The self esteem that comes from being informed levels the playing field and once again balances the stress chemicals that would normally leave you feeling like you have been ‘taken to the cleaners’. Knowledge is indeed financial power.

Our ability to be MONEY WISE does not come from having a huge team of financial analysts or planners telling us what to do, nor does it come from being born to privilege. (One look at Wall Street and the Banking system will clarify that) Financial Wisdom comes from learning how to access and balance our emotional intelligence and activating our higher cognitive function so we can make decisions that extend our wealth, benefit our families and improve our lifestyles over the long run and for the long term.

If you want to know how to manage your Money … you need to know how to manage your mind first.

Integrated Intelligence and my upcoming program The New Mind of Money will help you do that. To be informed as to when The New Mind of Money Program will be launched – please sign up for our Newsletter.

Beyond Limits

Beyond Limits

In the new movie “Limitless”, a somewhat talented yet lazy writer Eddie Mora played by (Bradley Cooper) discovers  a performance enhancing drug called NZT, that allows him to activate and access 100% of his brain – 80% more brain than the majority of us ‘regular’ human beings use. With the ingestion of the small ‘clear pill’ Eddie is catapulted into a world of unfathomable wealth, success, and sex as he conquers Wall Street, learns new languages and becomes an instant genius.

The price to pay for this level of ‘Enlightenment’ … and it seems there always is one … is that his new brilliance is highlighted by a twitchy dark arrogance and an adrenaline fixation; and even more worrisome … the side effects include paranoia, psychosis, brain damage and … well, um … death.

Call me crazy, but death sounds pretty limiting.

I am always intrigued by movies like this (which is by the way, the first release by Sir Richard Branson’s – Virgin Produced) – that open the door ever so slightly to allow us a sneak peek at what might be possible for human potential, only to slam it shut by painting that potential with the grimy ooze of ‘the dark side’ … as if to say … ‘Yes, this level of intelligence is possible … but once you achieve it … all hell will break loose and you will long for your old days of mundane ordinariness.’ Sort of like the ‘red pill/ blue pill’ conundrum of The Matrix. Or the ‘brain tumor’ explanation for John Travolta’s brilliance in the movie Phenomenon. It tells us … if you are going to be this gifted, this advanced, this Enlightened … well, you gotta die at the end.

I don’t buy it.

It is my belief that elevating and evolving human potential to an advanced level IS possible and to some degree is happening already. And like it or not – it is going to take an elevation of human potential to lift us all out of the rather rampant mess that we have gotten ourselves into. It is going to take a grand leap of the ‘development of Human Intelligence’ to change the status quo and turn our global, local and personal situations around.

Regardless of the intentions of Government, Education and Health Care (these intentions may be good or bad, depending on what side of the aisle you sit on) relying on these OLD systems is not going to help us, so we need to STOP looking there for the answers. Why? Because every one of these systems is committed to the ‘OLD’ intelligence, the OLD patterns and the OLD outdated ideas that clearly do not work. The Intelligence, Innovation and Imaginings that are required to turn things around will come from the individual, from the entrepreneur, from the visionary who is not tied to old ideas … it will come from you and me. But we will need to be willing to drop all of our fears about embracing our brilliance and be willing to adopt a new, grander idea of ourselves first.

If a new and limitless idea of human potential is to come to fruition, then maybe Hollywood is right … something WILL need to pass away … but it isn’t us as human beings or individuals. It is the old ‘imaginings or ideas’ that need to be sacrificed. As in all Evolutionary practices, in order for the new dream to be born, the old dream has to go.

So perhaps the deeper message of ‘Limitless’ is that the possibilities of advanced human potential DO exist, but we cannot expect them to come in an easily digestible tablet. In order for humanity as a species to be capable of that type of advanced intelligence, a whole lot of ground work would need to be done first.

It may be that operating on that level of heightened potential is like driving a Ferrari when you have only just gotten your learners permit … perhaps it is a bit too much muscle for a beginner, but with the right amount of practice – mastery of that type of power IS possible. But we need to be brave enough to be willing to truly let go of all of the things that so obviously don’t work in our lives any more, or more bravely question if they ever worked for us in the first place.

I like the idea of being Limitless and I believe that we all have our ideas of how that would look to each one of us. I also have a certainty that it is possible, we don’t need to take a pill to achieve it though … and we don’t need to self destruct in the process. We need only to get out of our own way and allow the Intelligence that is waiting to be revealed … to have its way with us.

 

Innovation. Standing Life on its Head.

Innovation. Standing Life on its Head.

The most successful businesses in the world today, thrive on one thing … INNOVATION!” ~ Simone Wright

It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a multi-national company, an entrepreneur running a one man operation, or a recent college graduate just tumbling into your first ‘real job’ – the fact of the matter is … if INNOVATION is not your number one priority, you will be left in the dust.

One of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, Richard Branson, said of the innovative spirit, “I’ve had great fun turning quite a lot of different industries on their head and making sure those industries will never be the same again.” So the secret, at least according to Sir Richard is simply to turn everything upside down.

Okay. So how do we do that? And what exactly IS IT that will be getting the old upsy-daisy?

Suffice it to say, if something is standing on it’s head – the perspective will certainly be different. So if we are to heed Branson’s advice, in order to turn an industry upside down, WE are going to need to ‘alter our perception’ first. The greatest innovators have the ability to ‘see things differently’ which gives them the ability to perceive solutions or ideas that no one else does. So in order to innovate, we need to be able to do the same thing … And yes … I guarantee it is 100% legal.

Perception is a function of our Intelligence system, and is uniquely formed in each individual by the repeated patterns of both internal and external influences from our environment. To put it more succinctly, our perceptions are formed by what we see, think, hear, feel or experience physically, mentally, emotionally and even chemically. All of these influences hard wire our nervous system and our nervous system becomes our mechanism of perception.

The simple way to begin to alter our perception is to begin to change our informational influences so we can activate new ways of thinking. To put it simply, in order to activate innovation we need to begin to ask different questions – questions that will push our nervous system and creative thought processes into new and more dynamic directions.

Altering perception begins when you start asking yourself or your team a new set of questions. Empowered questions. Evolved questions. When an empowered question is asked, an Integrated Intelligence will go to work immediately to find the most effective and efficient solution to answer it.

Often times developing an empowered question will offer you 90% of the solution.

Instead of asking ‘unempowered questions’ that begin with WHY … like WHY won’t my boss give me that promotion? or WHY is our product not selling? or WHY can’t I save any money? Consider asking questions that begin with HOW or WHAT.

Questions like … HOW can my company, product, brand be different in the marketplace? Or WHAT details can we add/remove from our product that would make it more user friendly? HOW can this project be completed on time? WHAT does my boss need to help make his job easier? HOW can I bring more value to my job? WHAT resources are we overlooking that can make us more profitable? … you get the picture.

WHY questions do not activate the creative processes in the brain to find SOLUTIONS. WHY questions are often times subjective with no solid answer. So stop asking them.

HOW or WHAT questions beg the brain for ACTION steps, and ignite the innovation connections that offer new ideas. When these new connections are stimulated, the brain begins to alter its wiring, so new PERCEPTIONS become activated. It is when these systems are switched on that the solutions appear before us as though they were sitting there the whole time. Which of course they were … we just weren’t setting ourselves up to recognize them.

 

Exercise your Body ~ Strengthen your Brain.

Exercise your Body ~ Strengthen your Brain.

Okay, this really is a no brainer and it might seem like common sense … but I am going to go ahead with it anyway, because sometimes we forget to do the things that are in our best interest. Most times it is because we don’t know WHY we should do them … so here are a couple of GREAT reasons why getting off the sofa and getting into some exercise could help you be a more dynamic and creative thinker.

The goal with Integrated Intelligence is to fine tune the ‘Intelligence muscles’ of the brain and body to balance and improve function so we can be more Creative, Innovative and Intuitive  … and I.I offers lots of ways to do that, but did you know that exercising our BODY is also a crucial way to improve brain function?

We all know (or at least have a vague memory) of how good it feels when we participate in regular and consistent exercise, the increased flow of oxygen and release of beneficial hormones and chemicals not only improves how we look in the long run, but also improves how we think, process information and handle stress. With as little as 20 minutes of daily exercise, which includes cardiovascular and /or high paced muscle training, our brains gain just as many benefits as our body does. And when our brains and hearts … are working at optimal levels … every aspect of our lives gains benefit.

Here’s why…

When we exercise at a moderate or high level, our bodies break what is known as the ‘blood-brain barrier’. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise it is … anything that requires our heart rate to increase and  breathing to escalate, will do the trick. It can be jogging, yoga, hiking, cycling or even love making… (got your attention on that one didn’t I?)

The increase in oxygen begins to saturate the blood which makes it’s way eventually into the temporal lobe of the brain, which houses a structure called the hippocampus; (Which is NOT a University for large African animals) and a smaller lobe called the denate gyrus. As we exercise, oxygen floods the area and a chemical/protein known as IGF-1 is released ~ this activates a second neuro~chemical called BDNF. This team of natural ‘feel good’ boosters act like a stimulant and power booster for the brain and ultimately has a ‘trickle down’ effect on every other function of the body as well.

Any type of high paced workout will not only activate these awesome ‘brain boosting’ chemicals, but will also help release a torrent of other feel good chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. (Which is the chemical our body produces when we fall in love!) And who doesn’t want a bit more of THAT?

All of these chemicals help balance the brain by giving it more energy to function efficiently which helps in focus, clarity and productivity. And when a brain is integrated and balanced, it is more healthy and as a result can also relax and rest when it needs to as well.  Regular exercise opens the door to a natural pharmacy in our body – giving us energy and focus when we need to be on our toes, and allows us to recuperate and regenerate when the day is done.

20 minutes a day improves memory, elevates mood, balances emotions and increases the ability to innovate and solve problems. People who exercise regularly also greatly reduce incidents of depression, anxiety and other stress related disorders.

When we stop exercising, not only do our muscles get weaker and smaller, but so too do parts of our brain; which can lead to neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. When our brain is flooded with all of the beneficial nutrients produced by exercise, it actually begins to create new cells, replacing old, damaged or worn out brain matter with new ‘age resistant’ ones.

So if you are wanting to stay young, to keep your life, your body and even your career on the ‘cutting edge’ of everything new, Innovative and potentially earth changing …  just start moving. 20 minutes a day … not only will your body start feeling and looking better, but you may find that your brain has lots of new things to be excited about as well.