Lisa Nichols didn't grow up with money.
After a humble childhood, she found herself a single parent with a mere $12 in her bank account at age 27. She needed government assistance to survive.
Today, her net worth exceeds $1 million, thanks largely to the success of her company, Motivating the Masses, which offers business coaching and professional development to small business owners.
The journey to millionaire status was not always a positive thing for Nichols, she explained during an interview with Essence:
Years ago, when my company had gotten to about $975,000, I slowed down my pace. It was October and I said, "I'm ready to stop for the year." But the next year, when my company got to about $985,000 by August, I still wanted to stop — and I thought, "Why is it that I want to stop? I know I don't want to stop for six months. I love what I do!"
What it was, was that I wasn't comfortable making $1 million … You actually can feel uncomfortable — that was me, stopping in October and then stopping in August. I was no longer in that same kind of hustle that I grew up in.
More than wealthy, you want to belong to your community, to your tribe, to your culture, to your family. I became too different — too much the unicorn. I didn't want to stand out that much, so I slowed down.
Her discomfort with earning money was completely unconscious, Nichols noted. It wasn't until she stopped and asked herself why she felt the desire to slow down the pace of her company when she realized how self-limiting she was being.
This unconscious discomfort with making money is not unique to Nichols. Self-made millionaire and author Steve Siebold explains that middle and lower class families tend to pass on the belief that money is scarce — hard to earn and harder to keep — and as a result, the average person sees money as their enemy.
As financial psychologist and certified financial planner Dr. Brad Klontz explained in a 2014 blog post:
If you, your family or your community have come to associate wealth with evildoing, how likely are you to accumulate any money yourself? Not very. The psychological cost would be too high. You would become one of "those people." Your friends and family members would look at you differently. You would no longer belong.
This explains, in part, why many people who come into sudden money, through an inheritance, insurance settlement, or lottery win, get rid of it quickly. As those close to you learn that your financial situation has changed, it can quickly become uncomfortable. It also explains, in part, why many people unconsciously sabotage their financial success, believing that wealth and integrity cannot coexist.
Klontz recommends challenging your core beliefs around money to avoid hurting your financial success: "Take a close look at your early experiences around money and your resulting beliefs about wealth," he writes. "See if a more balanced view of money can help you improve your financial health."
That's exactly what allowed Nichols to come to terms with becoming a millionaire. She took a step back and questioned why she was slowing down, which allowed her to recognize that she was letting factors such as her early experiences with poverty limit her.
"Now, I'm allowing myself to drive the direction of my life, rather than a bunch of unconscious conversations driving me," she told Essence.
She also embraced the fact that money can be a positive and productive force, a concept that wealthy people tend to teach their kids. As she put it: "When good people do well, good people get to do more good."
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