By Zitty Nxumalo
Founder and CEO, Deftable®, LLC
Without question, the moral of the following story is this: There is a collective awakening taking place. This awakening includes women taking a fresh, determined look at our relationship with ourselves, the people around us, and our money.
Before we dive in, let me be clear: It would be misleading to position myself as a “financial expert,” as my stint in wealth management and financial planning was quite brief. For about a year, I worked as a financial planner with a team of really smart advisors at Northwestern Mutual in Greensboro, North Carolina. During that year, I became the first woman in the Greensboro office, and the first African American woman in the district office, to earn the firm’s Pacesetter 40 award for productivity among new financial representatives. I was there long enough to gain an enormous understanding about the laws of abundance, and to get the clarity I needed about my own next steps.
Here’s where my expertise does lie: human behavior. I’ve studied people, their words, and their actions my entire life. Formally, I earned my B.A. in business management, M.A. in communication studies, and am close to finishing up my Ph.D. in leadership studies. It’s as if I’ve been on a mission to crack the code of joy so that I can teach it to others. Money is only one part of the code… but it’s such an important part for many of us because economic strength equates to options, options equate to freedom, and freedom, quite often, equates to joy.
So, as I’ve gathered the clues along the path of my own twisty life and career, here’s what I know: Those who are both financially successful and joyful (because there are quite a lot of miserable rich folks) share one common characteristic. They all, men and women alike, take full and unapologetic ownership of their lives. Period.
That said, ownership has been tougher for some groups than others because many environments have been created to serve only certain groups of people. This is why effective initiatives that cater specifically to women, people of color, or other habitually disempowered populations are so important.
The rumble of dissatisfaction among historically marginalized groups is getting louder. Those who have spent their lives feeling powerless are now increasingly – and sometimes very publicly – declaring their ownership. The financially successful, joyful women I know all abide by these four rules. No excuses. No exceptions.
Rule #1: Take ownership of your decisions.
Decisions are extraordinarily powerful. A decision, no matter how small, immediately places your foot on the gas and gets you moving in the direction of better days. When faced with a vexing situation, these women do not let the uncertainty linger too long. Neither are they impulsive or reckless. They take the time to clear their minds and hearts through meditation, running, prayer, breathing… whatever. They spend quality time with themselves. And once they connect with their intuition, they decide on – and then commit to – a course of action. That’s it.
Do you find yourself complaining about your job or the pay? Decide to begin the search for something new. Decide to watch a video or webinar (MANY of which are FREE) on salary negotiation or some other skill you’ve been wanting to cultivate. Decide to invest in a life coach to help you create a plan for change. Decide to start a side hustle that feeds your passion, and ask around about how you can monetize it. Whatever the complaint, make a decision!
Rule #2: Take ownership of your team.
Gone are the days of haphazardly finding ourselves surrounded by random people with random energies. Women who win are meticulous about with whom they choose to surround themselves. If you desire financial success and joy, you’d better be brunching with the ladies who are committed to those same values. Surely, there’s a place for venting to release the negativity that comes with an unpleasant experience. But, make sure you find friends whose conversations are characterized by hope, optimism, and movement. The adages are true:
- Birds of a feather flock together.
- As iron sharpens iron, one (wo)man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17
- “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” – Jim Rohn
You will be directly impacted by their trajectory, as it is the most accurate predictor of your own. So if you do not like what you see, refer to Rule #1.
If you’re not sure where to start, explore the mastermind concept. A mastermind is a group of people who intentionally gather to encourage and challenge one another through the use of collective intelligence. I am part of two groups that meet face-to-face several times each month, and my company hosts an online mastermind group for people who are ready to level up, no matter the starting point. Find your tribe, or create it.
Rule #3: Take ownership of your mindset
In this Inc.com article, the author discusses mindset. Abundance-oriented people “always believe that tomorrow will be better than today.” They refuse to bend to nostalgia, and they are vigilant and faithful about increasingly fruitful days ahead. They study their failures and painful experiences, and find ways to leverage the lessons to create a fresh outlook for themselves over and over and over again. The mind is EVERYTHING.
There is no value in ruminating over whomever appears to be the villain in your life. Pay attention, yes. Acknowledge the challenges and the people through whom those challenges come. Learn from them. The women who overcome the mess and joyfully pad their bank accounts are those who learn how to transform their challenges into blessings – and this always begins in the mind. If your mind feels jumbled and my words are resonating, click here to join our pay-what-you-can online mastermind group… per Rule #2. It all ties together!
Rule #4: Take ownership of your bottom line.
When you need your car tended to, you hire a mechanic.
When you need your air conditioner fixed, you find someone who knows the anatomy of your HVAC system.
When your body needs attention, you enlist a medical expert, a dietician, a fitness trainer, or even a book or article.
Why would it be any different with finances?
Marie Forleo and Kate Northrup created a video a couple of years ago entitled “Four Money Beliefs That Limit Your Wealth Inside and Out.” In it, Northtrup shares that one of the major turning points in her own life was when she finally decided to stop ignoring her finances. When speaking of her credit card debt, she says the following:
“I didn’t even know that [$20,000] was the number until several years in because I had my head dipped so deeply in the sand, avoiding looking at it. I noticed I was so unconscious about money, and I was so avoidant, and I was so scared to look at the whole truth.” Whoa.
Start talking to the people you trust, and ask around about great financial advisors. Most will meet with you for a complementary consultation so that you can at least have a starting point. Excellent advisors are honest, clear, and patient. Their job is to demystify the path to your financial progress! If you leave more confused, discouraged, or ashamed than when you entered… run. Find someone else. There are plenty of great ones out there!
Take note, ladies: We are living in a time of enormous transformation.
We can be a part of it if we allow ourselves to perceive the shift and saddle up. If there was ever a time for women to decide to fully embody the power that was intended to be ours all along, it is now. As women, it’s no secret that we face a particular set of hurdles. But making all men the bad guys isn’t the answer. There are many who are supportive, innovative, and future-oriented. I know because I continue to meet them! They are picking up on the fact that supporting women’s economic elevation is good for ALL of us. Don’t waste precious time dwelling on the ones who don’t “get it.”
Let’s take ownership, and spread the wealth!
Zitty Nxumalo is the founder and CEO of Deftable®, LLC, a Greensboro, North Carolina-based company that offers events, courses and coaching in the areas of leadership and personal development. Visit the Deftable website to learn about the company’s executive coaching packages and other offerings.