I am currently reading Mastery by Robert Greene, which analyzes the training of some of history’s greatest masters—Einstein, da Vinci, Mozart, etc. He recounts their lives to gain insight on the process of becoming a master: how they started, what influenced them, and why they were ultimately so successful.
But the process that Greene reveals can apply toward any skillset, including personal finance. You hear people say, “Oh, I’m just not very good with money,” as if there’s nothing they can do about it. But it’s clear through this book that anyone can become a master, it just takes time and practice, and you can start with these two ideas:
The first is that you should master what you already know. Greene writes, “Direct yourself toward the small things you are good at. Do not dream or make grand plans for the future, but instead concentrate on becoming proficient at these simple and immediate skills.” Little wins build confidence, and that’s what this part of the process is all about.
So if you make a lot of money but have a huge spending problem, start by tracking exactly how much money you bring in every month—you’ll eventually be disturbed by how little you keep. And if you’re great at negotiating, call your cable company and talk them down to a lower monthly bill.
The second idea is about desire—you can’t master something unless you really want to. Green observes, “This intense connection and desire allows [masters] to withstand the pain of the process—the self-doubts, the tedious hours of practice and study, the inevitable setbacks, the endless barbs from the envious. They develop a resiliency and confidence that others lack.”
Mastery is not easy, so you have to really want it to be successful. In the realm of personal finance, you will have setbacks that make you want to give up. An unexpected bill will come your way at the worst time, or an income stream will dry up just when you started to depend on it. But you need the confidence to take it in stride, adjust your plan, and continue toward your goals.
You may never develop a Nobel Prize winning physics theory or create priceless works of art, but you can master the skills necessary to restore order to your financial life. It just takes small steps and determination.
Josh Norris is an Investment Advisory Representative of LeFleur Financial. Josh can be reached at josh@LeFleurFinancial.com.