3 Components of a Financial Life Well-lived

3 Components of a Financial Life Well-lived
By: Brent Hines

As a business owner and professional speaker in the world of financial wellness, I am grateful and humbled to have access to some of the highest achievers, brilliant thought leaders, and top producers.

I’m certain you have a few of these high-performing people in your life as well. Those who seem to be playing a bigger game. Regardless of their industry, demographics, or circumstances, it’s like they’re playing four-dimensional chess while others are playing checkers.

They embrace total well-being, they exude confidence, they separate what culture defines as being successful from true excellence, and they embrace and leverage risk rather than fear it. On top of it all, they operate at this level while not neglecting the dimensions that make up a full-life, well-lived – Emotionally, Physically, Intellectually, Occupationally, Spiritually, or Socially.

Today, I am not here to share any “secrets, tactics, or life hacks” that these elite performers have shared with me. Instead, I want to share what I have personally experienced as a common denominator between them. Below are three components I consistently see in the operating systems of the highest performers I’ve been fortunate enough to know and study. 

The first component of their high-performance models begins with a concept we call Role vs Soul.

It’s counter to what pop culture feeds us. Things like, what have you done for me lately, you’re only as good as your last win, how many followers you have on Twitter, where you live, and what you drive. In essence, how well we are performing in our many roles is where we are “scored” by others, so it’s a natural reaction that we focus our attention and energy on those areas.

But, do we really want to tie our various role performances to our true, intrinsic value as a person? I mean the real you, the whole you. Dare I say… your soul. Aren’t you more than what you do? Of course, you are.

Here’s the construct of the Role vs Soul Model…

Load Bearing Truth #1: Separation of Soul from Roles

In your mind, picture a vertical line in the middle of a page. On the right side of the line is the soul score. There is only one measurement. Only one you.

On the left side of the line are your various roles in life. As you start to think through all the roles you play, there are likely more than you can count…spouse, parent, friend, business leader, neighbor, church member, etc.

Load Bearing Truth #2: Define the Scorekeeper

It is inevitable, our performance in many of the roles we play are measured and scored by others. A good visual of this was given to me by a coaching mentor. Imagine your role performance as a giant price tag hanging around your neck, where others are allowed to write the $ amount as a way of measuring and valuing your performance. Some days you absolutely crush it and then other days you bomb. It also fluctuates on the whims and emotions of those valuing your role performance. We carry this imaginary price tag hanging around our necks for everyone to see, and for everyone to know what our value, our price, or our score is.

Before we knew to separate Role from Soul we were vulnerable, we were not in control, we were risk averse because there was too much of our Soul Score at stake

Now, we have a firewall between our roles and our soul.

Our various role performance scores will inevitably go up and down, and be accessible to others but our soul score is non-negotiable. No one can decrease your soul value. They don’t have access. They’re not invited. The only person who can decrease that score is you, and not giving away soul value is something you can 100% control.

Load Bearing Truth #3: Your Role Score can only be as high as your Soul Score

For a high-performing life, it is a game changer once adopted and implemented. This is the rocket fuel for high-performance potential and your reconciliation tool for resetting your counters each day.

Yes, this model’s hypothesis states that your soul score is a governor to your role performance. If you want a high-performing life, you must strengthen defend and cherish your Soul Score. You’re worth it. You were created in the image of your maker, and He’s crazy about you. He’s for you.

Now tie these three Load Bearing Truths together and it provides us with a model that removes the fear of performance failure. If we allow our Role Scores to drift over into our Soul Score, it makes taking chances too risky. There’s too much downside. But we can aim higher than before, for high performance, for excellence, and if we fall short, take courage in the fact that “It’s just your role” and you get to reset the counters for your Role Scores every morning.

The second component we teach from these high performers’ operating systems is Progression.

In the summer before 5th grade, I moved to Colorado. If you haven’t been, it’s as beautiful as you would imagine. Little did I know that moving there as a 10-year-old would shape the rest of my life. I grew up there. Met my wife there, went to college there, met many of my best friends for life there, and raised our kids there. No matter where the future takes us, I will forever have Colorado in my heart.

One of the things about Colorado that I am most passionate about is my alma mater, the University of Colorado. Our mascot is the Buffalo (technically, the North American Bison). It is a majestic and strong animal.

Now one of many interesting facts about the State of Colorado is that it is a state divided down the center with the Rocky Mountains to the west and the great plains to the east. The Colorado weather can do some really crazy things as storms come crashing down onto those plains from those beautiful mountains.

Another interesting fact is that Colorado is one of the only places on earth that has both buffalo and cattle.

Now, if you are a person who looks to bovine for inspiration, then fair warning, I might be stepping on toes. I promise I won’t be too hard on ol’ Bessie here. I mean, the more I look at her, she does look kind of sweet. Sweet and terribly equipped to deal with fear!

Here’s what I mean…

When those storms come crashing down onto the plains, cattle respond in a very predictable way. They know which direction the storm is approaching, and they will instinctually begin walking in the opposite direction. The only problem is that cattle can’t outrun (or walk) these storms. Instead of outrunning the storms, they unintentionally run with the storm, lengthening the time they are exposed to the trouble and stress.

Our majestic buffalo on the other hand are unique. They will wait for the storm to near and as it arrives; they turn and charge directly into it. By facing (quite literally) the storm, they charge through it, minimizing their exposure to the stress.

I can’t help but wonder what life would look like if only we were more willing, more aware, and had the courage of a Buffalo to face the inevitable storms of our lives this way, head-on. The longer you’re on this planet, you know that storms in life show up in various shapes, sizes, and severity.

Through these darkest and scariest times of my life, I got to know fear really well and have come to the conclusion that fear and shame are bullies and liars. They will slowly and methodically eat you alive, turn you into someone you don’t want to be, and do so while convincing you that there’s no other way. Progression is the furthest thing from your mind while in a fight, flight, or freeze response.

So, what is the best way to handle fear? Avoid it, hide from it, hope it doesn’t show up?

In a recent interview, Psychologist, Dr Sasha Heinz was discussing the tension between the intellectual brain and the emotional brain and said is like you have one foot on the gas, that’s your neocortex and you have one foot on the brake, that’s your prefrontal cortex saying “that’s way too scary”.

She suggests we create a “belief blueprint” of ourselves. Become fluent in our own emotions and experience them, don’t resist them. Allow the feeling of fear to happen, feel it, observe it.

Culture demonizes stress, anxiety, fear, and suffering – and yet in psychology, neuroscience research, and even in theology, we recognize that our emotions are normal and inevitable. And without intention and practice, the emotional brain is much stronger than the intellectual brain.

Additionally, Dr. Heinz reminds us that we live in an era where there is ridiculously easy access to what she calls “Emotional Novocain”…over-eating, over-drinking, over-spending, pornography, social media, etc.

We must learn how to call a thing a thing. Stop giving it power, stop adding unhealthy meaning to it, stop moving away from life’s inevitable storms, and instead channel that inner, strong buffalo and lean into the storm, strengthen and grow from it and get in and out of that stress healthier and faster.

Finally, our last component of the high-performance model is Purpose.

Specifically, the power of alignment…the alignment of values, purpose and behaviors. Rarely do we see anyone performing at elite levels in life who does not have these three dialed in.

Looking back on my own life, especially during some of the toughest times when my mistakes and missteps were at the nucleus of those storms, I see now that I didn’t have these three defined, much less implemented. I am grateful that I survived those days, I’m grateful for the journey and especially grateful for what has become my life’s work which was born from those days.

Today, like so many others who have made mistakes and have self-inflicted scars to show for it, we all run a new risk of allowing our hurts and hang-ups from the past to limit our potential. If we believe in the separation of our roles from our souls, or “What you do isn’t who you are”, then the following progression would also be true; “What you’ve done isn’t who you are”.

I want to introduce you to a man I respect on multiple levels and yet have never met. I think you’ll understand why.

His name is Travis. Today, Travis is a singer-songwriter in Nashville. However, Travis’ early life was defined by fear, loss and pain.

Here are just a few examples:

  • At the age of two, Travis watched his baby brother drown
  • When Travis’ parents divorced, he wound up living with his grandparents rather than either of his parents. Both parents remarried and started families with their new spouses.
    • Travis is quoted as saying, “I was over there with my grandparents like, ‘Well what the hell happened to me? Why am I not good enough to be part of that family?’ I carried that resentment for a long time.”
  • At the age of eleven, he began using drugs
  • At fourteen, Travis was diagnosed with cancer
    • He would go on to beat the disease, but not before it cost him his right leg from just below the knee
  • In his 20s, Travis underwent another conversion: he became a Christian
  • Travis preached across the South and in 20-something countries for 17 years
    • “Preachers fall hard,” he says. “I had some questions I didn’t like the answers to. So, I quit and went back to my old friend alcohol.”

One of the things I most appreciate about Travis is his authenticity and willingness to process in such an open and vulnerable way. Obviously, he has a past that is full of hurts and hang-ups, but I can’t help but believe that his music is also providing healing. It oozes introspection, awareness, and purposeful growth.

In 2017, Travis had a song he wrote that was recorded and released by a huge recording artist titled “Better Boat”. In this gorgeous piece of work, Travis shares about contentment, letting go, and focusing on purpose.

In his song, Travis pens these words,

“I breathe in, I breathe out.

Got friends to call who let me talk about, what ain’t working, what’s still hurting. All the things I feel like cussing out.

Now and then I let it go, I ride the waves I can’t control.

I’m learning how to build a better boat.”

When I first heard this song, I almost ran my car off the road. I went straight into my office and began researching Travis, and this song has become a bit of an anthem for me as I see the work I am doing as encouraging others to build a better boat.

If you don’t let your past die, it won’t let you live.

Storms are inevitable. Could separating role from soul, boldly walking into storms, and allowing your past to die be the model that you take from dreams to action?

It’s easier said than done; I get it. But maybe, just maybe one of these ideas lands just right with you today and you make a shift, you start sharing your story, and you begin planting seeds. If sharing your purpose with others makes you hesitant or nervous in any way, remember, you can take the pressure off because you don’t have to be perfect at it…it’s just a role.