Master Yoda the wise sage taught me something much more powerful than the cheap levitation tricks he foisted off on Luke.
And come on…anybody with a half-decent light saber could whip Darth Vader…give me a break! For crying out loud…that guy couldn’t even take a breath without using an oxygen mask! Poor Skywalker. He missed the most important lesson of all.
What was that lesson?
“Without Luke, no Yoda there is.”
(Actually, I just made that up but you can attribute it to Yoda if you want.)
If you really examine the genius of Yoda, you’ll see that he would have been nothing without his students – the Jedi fledglings. He perfected his “force” skills precisely because he had to teach them to others.
What has this got to do with you and your money?
This may seem like a bold statement, but let me tell you something: if you are serious about mastering your money skills, teach them to someone else.
You don’t have to get a gig at the local college and you don’t have to be Queen Amidala. All I’m asking you to do is to find one Jedi in training and teach him the ways of “the financial force” as you understand them.
You probably think I’ve had one too many over at the Mos Eisley Cantina (famous bar scene from Star Wars), but I haven’t.
I can tell you from my own personal experience that I learned how to be a professional advisor by doing it. Not by reading about it.
What makes you qualified to be a financial Yoda?
You may not be a financial adviser but that doesn’t mean you can’t take somebody under your wing. If you are a frequent visitor to this and other personal finance blogs, you know a heck of a lot more about money, budgeting and investments than the average Chewbacca. When a friend asks if she should refinance her mortgage, help her figure it out. You can do it.
Have you successfully overcome other financial challenges? Do you have a budget surplus when once there was none? Have you vanquished your credit card debts? Have you sent your bad investing habits to a planet far…far away? If so, you have some experience and understanding that can help others.
Even if you haven’t completely eliminated the financial challenges you face, if you’ve made progress, you can help someone else by telling them about what’s worked and what hasn’t worked.
Why do it?
If only for purely selfish reasons, this is the best move you could possibly make. When you are responsible for teaching something to somebody, it forces you to become an expert at it. Take blogging, for example. If I write a piece that contains a mistake, readers let me know about it at warp speed. Do you think that helps me become more accurate in the way I express my ideas? You better believe it. Your buddy wants to start a new venture. How much does it cost to start a business? Find out and help your young Jedi learn with you.
Also, when someone is looking to you for guidance, it forces you to avoid “going to the dark side.” For example, let’s say you have taken your son under your wing. You want to teach him how to manage his spending. In order to do that, you arrange monthly meetings to go over all the purchases he’s made. Knowing you have a meeting with him next week is going to be a gentle reminder to yourself to stay on the straight and narrow.
Another reason is, you’ll learn a great deal simply by having these discussions with your Jedi-in-Training. She’ll come up with questions or comments that are new to you. You’ll investigate, and both of you will learn as a result.
Of course, the best reason to do this is simply the payoff you’ll get by helping another person. If this doesn’t resonate with you, I completely understand, Emperor (chief bad guy in the movie).
Why would anyone take your advice?
It’s tough for many people to find someone with experience and success whom they trust. If you have successfully overcome some financial challenges, or have successfully made progress in your financial life, you are qualified. They’ll relish your guidance.
Who should you approach?
This can be a bit tricky. I don’t suggest that you “force” yourself on anyone. Rather, look for an opportunity. When you see someone who is struggling with an issue that you have struggled with, you have your answer. If you have a close enough relationship, make yourself available to help. The person should tell you about the struggles they are going through. I don’t suggest you intrude. But when somebody makes it known that they are struggling, that’s a cry for help.
At that point, you have an opportunity. The best approach I’ve come across is to simply tell the person that you’ve struggled with the same challenges so you know how they must feel. If you needed to improve your credit score to buy a house and did it, share what it was like and what you did. Be vulnerable. Then, allow them to tell you more about what they are going through.
After they tell you their complete story, make yourself available. Tell them you’d be happy to explain how you overcame or are in the process of overcoming the challenges that they face now. Then, follow through. Set up periodic meetings to discuss their progress.
I know you have the experience. I know you have the wisdom. I know you have a great deal of value to share with someone. What I don’t know is if you can overcome your fear of criticism.
When you hold yourself out to help another person, you take on some responsibility. You aren’t responsible for the results and you aren’t responsible for the other person, but you are responsible to yourself to be the best you possibly can be. That’s the reason I implore you to do it. You deserve to be the best you can be. I have no doubt about this.
As Yoda said, “Named your fear must be before banish it you can.”
Are you afraid of trying to help someone else overcome their financial challenges even if you aren’t an expert? Have you ever done this before even though you were afraid? What were the results? Do you think doing this makes you look like an egomaniac?