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The Financial Wellness “It” Factor

Written by: Corey Janoff

There are over 60,000 books on Amazon about leadership.  People devote their careers to finding the keys to successful leadership.  It is one of the most heavily researched subjects, yet nobody can clearly define the perfect recipe for a great leader.  There are many types of great leaders.  Some lead by example, others are more vocal.  We can point to traits that good leaders possess – confidence, strong communication skills, emotional intelligence, among others.  Yet, the great leaders seem to have an “it” factor that is hard to define.  You can’t really explain it, but there is something about them that makes them great.  

You can train a good leader.   Through practice and effort, people can develop sound leadership skills.  But it takes something more to be great.  You almost have to be born with the ability.  I’m not suggesting that great leaders come out of the womb ready to inspire people.  Just like it takes practice to become a good leader, it takes some honing of skills to go from good to great.  But the great leaders are somehow blessed with that capability and it almost comes naturally to them.   

You know what I’m talking about.  That “it” factor is present in many walks of life.  Some people are simply born gifted.  LeBron James was born to play basketball.  Now, if he didn’t practice and dedicate himself to his craft, he probably wouldn’t have reached the same level of success.  He would just be a good basketball player instead of an all-time great.  But he was born with the ability to become great and makes it look easy.  

The Financial Wellness “It” Factor

There is also an “it” factor for financial wellness.  I can’t really explain it.  Some people are just good at money.  Without much coaching or advice, they seem to make prudent financial decisions when it matters.  It comes easy to them.  Choosing the right career, spouse, an affordable house, managing expenses, saving for retirement…every step of the way they choose wisely.

For others who lack the “it” quality, money is a constant struggle.  If you fall into this camp, don’t be discouraged.  You can learn to be good with money.  Just like pretty much anyone can learn to be a decent leader, with some practice and coaching, you can learn to make smart financial decisions.  It may not be easy, but you can do it.  

For those who were born with the financial savviness gene, a little guidance can take them from good to great.  

it factorSome people are born to be leaders.

The Richest 1%

Some people are disproportionately great with money.  It is estimated that about half of the wealth in the world is held by 1% of the population.   Some have speculated that if you evenly distributed all of the global wealth so everyone has an equal share, within about five years the majority of it would end up back in the hands of the original richest 1% and the poor would end up back where they started.  Some people are just good with money.  

I’m not here to spark a political discussion about fairness and how to handle the great disparity in concentrations of wealth.  My point is that some people know how to accumulate wealth whereas others struggle with that ability.  Just like some people constantly struggle with their weight, while others seem to be naturally fit with minimal effort.  

Those with the Financial Wellness “It” Factor Make My Job Easy

I can tell pretty quickly when a prospective client possesses the “it” factor.  It seems like they’re on the right track from day one.  It’s a good problem to have.  I’ll sometimes get posed the question, “We have all of this extra money…what do we do with it?”  Some of you are laughing (or seething) because you have never experienced that problem.

And it doesn’t always come from ultra-high-income earners.  Obviously, more income makes it easier, but I have some clients who earn in the low six-figures who always seem to have extra funds and other clients who earn $1M+ who can barely make ends meet!  

The ones who have their financial house in order simply need a little coaching to go from good to great.   We often end up discussing whether they should pay off the mortgage faster than they already are, or save even more for retirement so they can become financially independent even sooner.  It’s a win-win either way.  The answer ultimately lies in where their goals and priorities lie.   

For others, it is a constant challenge, but so rewarding when they get on track to achieving their goals.   I imagine it’s the same feeling teachers experience when they get a struggling student to engage and actually learn the material and pass the class.  Everyone is capable of growing and improving.  

Everyone Can Learn Financial Wellness

Even if you’re not naturally gifted when it comes to money doesn’t mean you can’t learn to be good at it.  I truly believe that anybody can become proficient in a skill with proper dedication, coaching, and practice.  If I really work at it, I can become a good piano player.   I may not get to the level where I’m performing in sold out venues, but I could impress some people at a dinner party if I dedicate myself to practicing.  Now, that’s not a goal that I care to pursue, so it probably isn’t happening.  

Managing finances is a skill, just like playing the piano.  If you can learn to read sheet music and move your fingers across a keyboard, you can learn to be good with money.  That is just my opinion, but I truly believe it.  

You may never be great, but you can learn to be good.  And good is more than enough (you don’t need to be Bobby Flay to cook a quality meal for yourself). It is only easy for the few, not the many.  For most people, money matters are a challenge.  But they are not insurmountable.  It may be challenging, but you can achieve your financial goals.  You just have to make it a priority, sacrifice for what you want, and commit yourself.