Imagine: A Journey of Self-Discovery

By David Geller   |   February 26, 2013

Editor’s NoteThis article has been adapted from CEO David Geller’s presentation to his fellow colleagues at GV Financial Advisors’ annual company meeting.  This presentation was designed to give GV team members an opportunity to experience for themselves the potential of the firm’s Guided Wealth Transformation® philosophy.  David believes GWT® should not be limited just to the firm’s wealthy clientele.  He believes that everyone can benefit from its tools and teaching.

Today, I want to take each of you on journey of imagination.  I want to take you to a place where you can dispel your fears about money, and really understand the true nature of your wealth.  I want to take you on a journey from fear to confidence, and from weakness to strength.

Fear can grip our lives. Whether it’s fear of not having enough, fear of change, or fear of what might happen next in the markets or the economy, fear can consume our thoughts and distract us from living full, rich lives.

Our fears often center around money.  What if my spouse or I lose our jobs?  What if my child needs special tutoring that is more than I can afford?  What if my car breaks down and I am faced with an expensive repair? What if I don’t have enough money to send my child to college and retire? 

What do you worry about?  Please take one minute to answer that question for yourself on the form provided.

When we worry, we climb the Anxiety of Wealth pyramid.  We have amazing imaginations that allow us to imagine any number of future catastrophes.  These scenarios cause us to feel anxious or afraid.  Our fear triggers the biological “fight or flight” response that shifts our blood from our brain and digestive system to our heart, lungs, arms and legs. We are getting ready to hit someone or run really fast.  Our brain is 2% of our body mass and consumes 20% of our oxygen. When we have less oxygen in our brains, we think less clearly.  Our vision narrows and we literally see fewer options.  As a result, we can feel restricted or even paralyzed, and when these fears are chronic, we can feel burdened and overwhelmed.  When we feel burdened and overwhelmed, it is difficult for us to feel empowered.

Now, imagine tonight that the proverbial burning bush appears in your room.  God speaks to you and guarantees that you will always be able to deal with whatever financial adversity comes your way.  You may not be rich, but you will always be all right.  That means you will always have be able to provide for you and your family. You will never be homeless or hungry. You and your family will always have access to quality health care.  If you become old and infirm, you will have enough money to ensure that someone will be there to take care of you. Your children will be able to receive a good education.  You will always have some money to spend each month on simply having fun.

What changes would you make to your life?  What would you be empowered to do knowing that you will always be financially okay?  How would your feelings change?  How would those changed feelings impact your life? How much better would your life be?  Please take a few minutes each to answer on the form provided and then take five minutes each to discuss your answers with your partner.

1.     THE FUTURE IS UNKNOWN.

Unfortunately, the odds of God giving you a personal financial guarantee are pretty slim. So, how do we get to that feeling of confidence and comfort without God’s guarantee? Let me start answering that question by asking you a different question.

What percentage of the time do we face an uncertain future?  Please take a few minutes each to answer on the form provided.

You may be surprised to hear that the correct answer is 100%.  We never know what the next minute, much less day, week or month, will bring us.  Now let’s take a moment and think about the things we worried about in the past.  How many of those fears came to pass?  How many simply faded away?  For most of us, most of the fears that kept us up at night never came true.  When we realize we don’t know what tomorrow will bring and that yesterday’s fears often faded away, we can begin to realize that many of today’s fears might also fade away.

2.     YOU HAVE OVERCOME ADVERSITY BEFORE.  YOU RELIED ON FAITH IN SOMEONE OR SOMETHING WHEN FACING SERIOUS ADVERSITY.

Let’s talk for a minute about life’s inevitable adversities.

During your life, have you experienced serious adversity?  Please take a few minutes to write down one of those experiences on the form provided.

A serious adversity could include, among other things, a serious illness for you or a loved one, the end of a long-term relationship, the sudden loss of a job, difficulty paying your bills, the death of a family member or close friend, or anything else that that initially felt overwhelming.  Raise your hand if you have had such an experience.  Almost all of us have experienced such trauma because loss and challenge are simply part of the human experience.

Did you survive?  Of course you did; you are here today.

How did you survive? On what did you rely on to get you through that difficult time? Please take two minutes to write down your answers on the form provided and then take five minutes each to discuss your answers with your partner.

For those who are struggling to answer this question, perhaps you rely on things like faith in God, the support of family and friends, your Signature Talents™, internal virtues such as persistence, resilience, and intelligence, a belief that when one door close another one opens, your wisdom about what really matters in life.

Once you figure out what you rely on as your face an uncertain future, you can start to move from fear to confidence.  This is so because lasting feelings of security come from the confidence that we will be able to deal with whatever adversity comes our way, not from how much cash we have in the bank or how valuable our portfolios might be.

So far, we have learned two steps to help us get off the Anxiety of Wealth Pyramid. The first is remembering none of us ever know what tomorrow will bring.  If we pause for just a moment, we can realize that many, if not most, of our fears from the past simply didn’t come true.  Thus, we can calm ourselves by remembering that there is a reasonably good chance today’s worry will also fade away.

The second thing we’ve learned is that we have all faced – and overcome – substantial adversity in our past.  When we pause and reflect on how we overcame those challenges, we can often identify what we rely on as we face an always uncertain future.

3.     CULTIVATING A SENSE GRATITUDE CAN HELP US WORRY LESS.

The third piece is cultivating a sense of gratitude for the abundant and incredible blessings in our lives.  It is part of the human condition to compare ourselves to others.  Our natural tendency is to compare ourselves to those whom we believe are doing “better” than we are.  We feel behind when our friend and neighbors drive nicer cars, live in larger homes, and take more expensive vacations.  We worry when our children’s friends have an experience we simply cannot afford. Maybe it is tutoring, maybe it is summer camp, or maybe it is the money to take piano lessons. Even though we live in a world of miracles and abundance our grandparents could not dream of, we often see ourselves as simply struggling to keep up.

The truth is no matter how well we do, or how much we have, there will always be someone who is doing better or has more than we do. Gratitude is the antidote to those feelings of being left behind.  When we pause for a moment and focus on all the blessings in our lives, we can feel richer, more fortunate, and calmer.

Write down 5 things you are grateful for in your life.  Please take two minutes to write down your answers on the form provided and then take five minutes each to discuss your answers with your partner and share why each is important to you.

They don’t have to be big things; they can be anything that cultivates a sense of gratitude.  It can be a simple as having gratitude that we live in a society, for the first time in human history; we have the ability to eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day of the year.

We all have fears, and like it or not, we all climb the Anxiety Pyramid. When we are feeling anxious, we have three tools to help us feel more centered and to get the blood back in the brain. Those are acknowledging that we are always on the edge of the unknown, and just like in the past, there is a good chance today’s fears will never come true. The second is to identify what we have faith in, or what we rely on, as we face an uncertain future.  The third is to cultivate a sense of gratitude for the abundant blessings in our lives. As we use these tools, we will move from anxiety to courage, and from fear to confidence.

4.     LET THE JOURNEY OF IMAGINATION BEGIN.

Imagine you are among the most powerful people on the planet.  Not particularly rich, but very powerful.  Imagine you are powerful in the way Ghandi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., were powerful. Like them, you have the ability to imagine a better future and the power to do something about it.  You have the empathy and work ethic of Mother Teresa.  You have the intelligence and wisdom of Ghandi. You have Dr. King’s ability to speak powerfully and eloquently.  You also have the network of Mother Teresa and the ear of political leaders.  Because you have done such good work for such a long time, the world’s rich and powerful come to visit you. And you have the patience, persistence, and resilience of all three.

Knowing you have these remarkable gifts, what changes would you make to your life?  What would you be empowered to do knowing that you are one on the world’s most powerful people? How would you help your family and friends?  How would you make a positive impact on the lives of others? How much better would your life be?  Please take two minutes to write down your answers on the form provided and then take five minutes each to discuss your answers with your partner and share why each is important to you.

We may not be Ghandi, Mother Teresa or Reverend King, but we each have enormous resources at our disposal to create the life we desire, to enhance the lives of the people we care about, and to leave a living legacy that represents our passions and values.  Our challenge is not that we lack the resources to make a difference; our challenge is that we fail to recognize all the resources we do have.

We believe there are six elements of wealth: time, talents, body and mind, wisdom, network of relationships, and money.  Let’s take a moment now to focus on just two of those six elements: your talents and your wisdom.

Next, select one of the changes you would make if you knew you were among the most powerful people on the planet.  Please take one minute to write down that key area of change.  We will refer to this as your “focus area.” 

Each of us has Signature Talents™, things we do incredibly well, better than almost anybody else we know.  Sometimes we have a hard time identifying our Signature Talents™ because they come so easily to us we mistakenly believe they come easy to everybody else.

Take a moment to identify what you believe are your Signature Talents™.  Please take three minutes to think about and write down your top five Signature Talents™.

The next step is to think about how you use one or more of your Signature Talents™ to make incremental progress in your focus area.  The key here is not to strive for immediate perfection, but to think about one or two small steps you could take now or in the near future.

Write down one way you can use your Signature Talents to make an incremental improvement in your focus area.  Please take two minutes to write down your answer on the form provided and then take five minutes each to share your answers with your partner.

As we go through life, each of us becomes wiser.  We gain wisdom from learning about others, from studying history, and from observing others.  Often, we gain hard-won wisdom as we deal with adversity.  Gaining wisdom from adversity is never easy; it often requires us to engage in introspection and to shed old paradigms. But the wisdom we gain throughout our lives can be a powerful tool for change.

Think about the area of your life you want to improve.  What wisdom can you apply to that situation? What have you learned from prior experiences that can help you in this situation?  What mistakes do you want to avoid?

Take a moment to try to identify one piece of wisdom that could help you make progress in your key area of change.  Please take two minutes to write down your answer on the form provided and then take five minutes each to share your answers with your partner.

5.     THE JOURNEY OF IMAGINATION HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN.

We often forget about the life-changing power of our Signature Talents and our wisdom – neither of which involves your money.  When we forget to consider all aspects of our wealth, we underestimate our capacity to change our lives and change the world for the better.  When we ignore some elements of our wealth and focus on our power to effect change with our money alone, we sell ourselves short, depriving ourselves of countless opportunities to create a better life for ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.  When we focus on our Signature Talents™ and our wisdom, we can begin to remove the limits we impose upon ourselves to empowerment, and from weakness to strength.

Today, we have only scratched the surface, touching on just two elements of wealth and one focus area.  We believe there is much more that each of us can do and we believe that we can increase our own happiness and live richer, more meaningful lives by taking the time to step away from our day-to-day lives and working with a trusted advisor who can guide you through a coherent process and help you on your own journey of self-discovery.

6.     THE POWER OF GUIDED WEALTH TRANSFORMATION® TO CREATE POSITIVE CHANGE.

I hope you are starting to get a sense of the power behind Guided Wealth Transformation, the power to help each of us move from fear to confidence and from weakness to strength, and the power to imagine and create a better world for all.  We believe the real power of GWT goes far beyond improving our personal lives.

  • Imagine an America that builds communities of confidence and strength.
  • Imagine a world where we as a society focus on our abundance, instead of our scarcity.
  • Imagine a world where we accept that we are always on the edge of the unknown, and we face that uncertain future with the quiet confidence that we will deal with whatever comes our way.
  • Imagine how we might reorganize our lives to align with our values and life priorities.
  • Imagine how much more fulfilling that life would be.
  • Imagine how the political and social dialogue would change.
  • Imagine how we would feel encouraged and empowered to work together to help solve our communities’ most pressing problems.
  • Imagine what we could accomplish, both individually and collectively.

We believe that the real power of GWT® is the power to build community, and in doing so, to help heal America.  GV is proud to be at the epicenter of this sacred mission.

  • As we work to help our clients, we empower them to use their wealth to create a brighter future for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.
  • As we speak and write about the true nature of wealth, we help spread the timeless wisdom that money is just one element of our wealth – just one element of the resources we have to build the life we desire.
  • As we touch the people we encounter, we help each of them to connect to their innermost wisdom – the wisdom that a great life is not about the car you drive, the house you live in, or the vacations you take, but things that really matter most.
  • As we help people redefine and realign their purpose to their values, we help them understand that wealth is about far more than the money in our bank accounts or the value of our portfolio.
  • As we help people understand the science behind greater satisfaction, we help them understand that happiness and a great life comes from supportive relationships that give you the time and space to open up and learn about your own unique gifts, from creating and seizing the opportunities to become fully engaged in an activity that captures your complete attention, and from using your wealth (not just your money) to make a positive difference in the lives of the people you touch and ultimately, leaving the world a little better off than you found it.

Working together and working with the passion that made us the successful people we are today, our unique individual talents and our combined collective wisdom, we believe we can help America move from fear to confidence, and from weakness to strength.  We can work together toward creating a better America and a more confident and empowered America, for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.  And isn’t that what matters most?

About the Author

CEO David Geller co-founded the firm in 1991 and led the creation of Behavioral Wealth Management. Recognized on numerous prestigious "top financial advisor" lists, David is an in-demand speaker for professional groups and JOYN workshops. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post.

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