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During a recent visit from my sister’s family, my 9-year old nephew asked me why I persisted in asking my daughter, who is two years older than him, to help out around the house so much.  From his young perspective, it seemed like she was being asked to do a lot of work that should really be the responsibility of an adult (and secretly afraid that I was giving his mom the wrong idea!).  I told him that I was helping to prepare her to take care of herself later in life.  The look on his face told me that he obviously did not agree.

Upon further reflection, I realized that it may seem counter-intuitive to a child, but the more she learns to take on herself, the more freedom she will have as an adult.  And in my mind, that’s at the heart of true financial freedom.  Although at first glance, it might seem like financial freedom is an abundance of time and money to do whatever we want to do (and not have to do chores, in my nephew’s mind); I believe that true financial freedom is the knowledge that we can generate an income.  That we can rely on our own ability to create value in the world.  If we are confident that we know how to take care of ourselves, and we believe in the value that we can contribute, then we have the ingredients for real financial freedom.

One way to develop this confidence is to focus on the things of value that we have to offer to the world.  This could be the skills or experience that we have accumulated, or it could simply be our desire to help, and be of service.  Regardless of where we are in life, our unique combination of strengths, desire to help, and life experience give us the ability to offer value.  And when we offer value to the world, we receive value back.  Maybe not in the exact way that we had anticipated, but it is definitely a reciprocal arrangement.  Sort of like yin & yang, karma, natural balance, or the law of attraction.  Whatever you want to call it, value given results in value received.  If we want to receive more value, we first need to offer more value.

And receiving value in our lives is definitely worth a mention.  Oftentimes, we may not receive the value offered because we tell ourselves that it is not what we originally asked for, or maybe we believe we don’t quite deserve it.  Have you ever received an unexpected gift from a friend on your birthday and  responded with, “you really shouldn’t have” instead of “thank you”?  Or blew off a compliment by arguing with the person giving the compliment?  Or perhaps you received a raise or promotion at work that you’re not sure you really earned.  As an experiment, it is fascinating to practice receiving unexpected gifts into your life and taking a look at your thoughts and feelings upon receiving it.  Is there any type of resistance, or is it simply gratitude?

Once we have confidence in our ability to contribute value, and have opened ourselves up to receiving value, then there is nothing that we can’t do.  The fear of failure is the fear that we will be left destitute with no means to support ourselves and our family.  However, with the knowledge that we have intrinsic value to offer to the world, this fear is substantially reduced.  Without that fear of failure, is there anything that you can’t do?  That is true financial freedom.