It’s a Wonderful Life.
I remember a previous existence when I spoke to people in debt. A lot. I spoke to thousands of people in debt, day in day out. I’ve never forgotten it.
I never will.
There are happier subjects to discuss.
A new baby. A new job. A new relationship (or the ending of a bad relationship).
Even George Bailey became suicidal under the weight of debt.
Failed and Failing are NOT the same as Failure.
Mostly, those people I spoke to every day felt that they were failing, had failed, were failures.
They were of course wrong on that third point.
You can’t be a failure through debt, any more than you can be a failure through being White. Or Black. Or Male. Or Female. Etc.
Those people were vicars, policemen, teachers, often worked in the financial sector (the irony). They had businesses, and they had never had businesses. Had kids, didn’t have kids.
They weren’t all unhappy either – many were relieved to at least be going through the programme to ‘get to the other side’.
Many came out the other side with a different opinion of banks and such. For example, they’d be delighted to claim PPI back after they have completed an IVA or Trust Deed (click PPI after IVA for this specific service).
They were White. Black. Male. Female. Etc.
Some were suicidal.
They were a varied bunch.
Modern debt is much like physical illness. It doesn’t discriminate. The debt, in and of itself, hasn’t changed… but life has. So forget preconceptions about the types of people who get into debt.
The banks were built around the model of ‘sometimes bad things happen to good people’. They breathe and exist on it.
Really, these days a first fall into debt trouble can pretty much happen to anyone who allows a certain level of debt. I’ve seen this.
And 80% of the rest of us manage to just stay on the right side of fortunate. One sneeze can tip the balance.
Those people did all have one thing in common, though. They were on the database.
And on that database, the debt defined them.
However, a database is only a database. When they spoke, they were in reality a varied bunch. In life they were not ‘a database’. A database is a collection of information. Debt is a temporary reality. Neither defines a person – and a person is not defined by their debt.
Their interactions – and actions – were aligned to their character. And their character was aligned to their outcome. Hence they were so varied – different levels of character at work, creating different outcomes.
Character now, determines outcome later.
And outcomes determine futures.
Those people tackled – a few, by not tackling – their temporary ‘debt reality’ in their differing ways. The reality at one point would have been broadly the same for all.
Debt takes from us the poetry at work within. It upsets the rhythm we had in life, and blocks the freedom that accompanied our bright start.
Our wellness and newness is by little measures stolen from our being by the weight and stress of debt. It shades over hope, dampens love.
It feeds with a never-satisfied appetite.
And of course, it feels like a failure. And not temporary.
But if debt does not define you – then by definition, neither can failure!
So how do we fail without being defined by it?
In short, by failing well. And we fail well by failing temporarily.
Just how life intended.
As soon as we’re born, we’re going to experience failure. It’s unavoidable. Like joy, death, happiness, illness.
You WILL fail within life, because everybody has. Always temporarily, though.
When we accept that, things start to get interesting. You let go a little. Forgive yourself. Your breathing patterns change. Your thoughts follow. And so do your actions. You see a bigger picture.
Rather than treating the temporary pit-stop labelled failure as something permanent – something defining – look instead at the common companions of failure.
For in there are the secrets to a bigger picture.
Because sometimes the most wonderful thing was happening whilst you were looking the other way.
Sometimes the experience was making you a better person.
And in turn you were making the world a better place.
It may not have been in a manner to your taste, but you matter enough that life brought you the experience.
Like George Bailey.
Companions of failure
Experience opens new pathways in the brain, and strengthens them. With experience, we notice patterns which can now alert us before it’s too late. We can look at problems – even new temporary failures – with the appropriate level of emotional input.
We’re less intimidated by FEAR.
We burn out less.
We stress less.
John Assaraf, the New York Times bestselling Author and a serial business-builder, often mentions FEAR as an acronym – (F)alse (E)motions (A)ppearing (R)eal.
Like experience, but wider.
Wisdom allows us to bring experience over from an area of expertise, and into an area we hitherto were not experienced in, with a good degree of certainty that things will work out.
Because we understand the basic patterns. Meaning we can consistently make better decisions.
And wisdom often helps present those decisions in a kinder way.
Tony Robbins, the world famous Businessman, Author and Philanthropist, states –
It’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.
If it doesn’t feel good right away, it’ll feel good in its own time.
But better – be forgiven by yourself.
It moves you into the present.
Away from the past. Away from temporary failures. Away from being defined by them.
Bringing forgiveness improves a bigger picture.
‘As you love yourself, life loves you back. I don’t think it has a choice either. I can’t explain’ – Kamal Ravikant, Author of Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.
It’s very common to see people who come through a trying experience such as debt problems, adopt lightness to their lives.
They don’t give everything away. Some might.
They don’t all adopt the same level of lightness.
But they do unburden themselves of various degrees of baggage. They say it brings clarity. Helps creativity. Stops them being a slave to things not true to their core. Helps them stay healthy (or get healthy).
Perhaps it leaves space for miracles.
‘Miracles don’t happen. Miracles are given.’ – James Altucher, founder or cofounder of more than 20 companies, including Reset Inc. and StockPickr and says he failed at 17 of them.
By the way.
John Assaraf, Tony Robbins, Kamal Ravikant, and James Altucher all experienced severe debt problems at some point.
All of them.
Oh, and so did *George Bailey.
And Clarence got his wings.
*James Stewart played the character in the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.