On fulfilment, integrity & money: An interview with Alan Seid

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Alan Seid

Alan Seid works as a breakthrough coach with people who struggle with how to manifest or create their vision. He helps them break their vision down into a step by step process so that they can actually get there. Alan is also a Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication. He coached me, gave me a lot of clarity and support with my own vision, in the early months of starting my business. Alan & I chatted for an hour on Zoom, I have transcribed the interview for you to read and edited only for conciseness. You can check out his Blackbelt Money Skills course, get on the waiting list for it if you want to feel more empowered around personal finances.

What got you interested in teaching with the money focus?

Initially what I was interested in was not being stuck in a 9 to 5 till you die reality, not being caught up in what we call the rat race and work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work in order to buy stuff I didn't need with money I didn't necessarily have in order to impress people I didn't necessarily like.

I did not want to fall into that trap of work, spend, consume, work, spend, consume. A few years after this realisation, I ran into the precursor to Your Money or Your Life which was an audio course called ‘Transforming Your relationship with money.’

As I started applying the program to my own life, my life started to transform and blossom in many ways. It turns out that one of the things that come easily to me is to stand up in front of groups and articulate other people's information. So, as I was doing the nine steps in Your Money or Your Life, eventually I moved to the Seattle area and began teaching workshops on Your Money or Your Life because I was invited to do so.

I'd simply just had these opportunities show up to share the material and I was very excited about it so I kind of stumbled into the workshop and seminar business and it happens to be something that I do very well. So, initially, it was a personal interest that then just became enthusiastic sharing.

So, what is the Financial Integrity program all about?

I think what people need to understand about the financial integrity program is that it is not about making money. It is not about how to create a livelihood. It is really about how to have clarity and awareness and have money play a role in your life that is of integrity and in alignment with your values and your life purpose and so that you're maximising your fulfilment in relationship with money.

So you said the nine step program of Your Money or Your Life, led you towards financial integrity, would you share a couple of things that changed in your life?

Well, it happened as a result of just doing the steps in the program because the program is essentially a methodology for investing cautiousness into our relationship with money and when we're defining money in a particular way. When money is a representation of the hours that I spent in order to earn it, then money acquires an intrinsic value rather than simply an extrinsic value. So that twenty on a piece of paper now actually has real meaning because it took so many hours of my time or so many minutes of my time to earn that twenty. So, when I'm spending money, I'm spending my finite life energy, it's no longer this external paper or metal that comes and goes for my life.

Also, there are certain questions that you're asking yourself as part of the program: did this expenditure of my life energy bring me fulfilment in proportion to how much I had to work for it and was it in alignment with my values and life purpose.

I'll give you a specific example in the 1990’s; I was working as a Spanish interpreter in downtown Seattle. Back then I was a serious music collector and had been since about twelve years old; I love all kinds of music and I’m a musician myself. So back then I was buying one CD every week and when I was asking myself the questions 'am I getting proportionate fulfillment and is this in alignment with my values and life purpose', I noticed that automatically I started to spend less on music and this is before the internet, this is before everything was downloadable, this is when people were buying CD's. So my spending more or less organically just naturally started to shift so that I was buying one CD per month instead of one CD per week.

And so my fulfilment per CD was a lot higher. And it was more in alignment with my values to lower my demand on plastic, cream plastic in the world, and I enjoyed I enjoyed what I was buying that much more so that's an example of my fulfilment and my integrity going up my spending going down. And as a result, I was saving the other three C.D.’s a month that I would have been buying and that money was going into my savings.

Wow, that’s quite a tangible benefit.

So, it's not about cutting back, reducing, depriving yourself, it's about maximising your fulfilment and your integrity and as a result spending tends to level off. Which by the way is very good news for the planet.

True. If someone wanted to have a better relationship with money, where would you suggest they start?

I think by being truthful with them. Just acknowledge & notice what your patterns are with money. One of the toughest things about money is that the tendency to go unconscious with money is so strong; we would much rather just not think about it.

It becomes a very painful place in our lives and then and that tends to reinforce our not wanting to look at it because it's painful. A lot of what I think we don't know how to do very well in our society is grieving and mourning; allowing ourselves to feel the pain, the disappointment, the heartbreak, the stress, the frustration, whatever it is in relation to money and allowing ourselves to go through that process. By doing that, we can come out the other side a little bit more refreshed. Now, certainly, I could recommend Your Money or Your Life or my course Black-Belt money skills which is my articulation of the nine steps.

But that step would probably make sense after being honest, like really being able to look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘wow, my patterns with money are not working for me, I need to do something about this.’

I agree - so being truthful, and then examining unconscious patterns for what you might need help and mourning and grieving.

Yes. I think there are three stories that we really need to question in our society, they are stories about who we are as human beings, what is the ‘good life’, and then what is our shared future together on this little blue ball hurtling through space that we call Planet Earth. We are not just consumers. And the good life is not about more toys or more, more, more, more, more and lying in a pool on a rubber floaty thing with a drink in your hand; I get bored with that in about ten minutes. I think that a lot of the unconscious patterns that happen around money have to do with these stories about who we are and what constitutes the good life and I think we really need to question those.

Say more about who inspired you in your relationship with money

Joe Dominguez, Vicky Robin, Monica Wood, who was sort of like the godmother of the nine-step financial integrity program. Also, Peace Pilgrim; she is a genuine American saint of the twentieth century. In 1953, she abandoned all her material possessions and decided to go on a pilgrimage for peace. Her message was, ‘We are not going to reach peace between nations or between groups of people or between individuals if we don't first attend to our own inner peace.’ She carried only the clothes she had with her, a comb & a tooth brush. She carried no money, accepted no money and she walked until offered shelter and fasted until offered food. There is a video you can find of her teaching to a college class on spiritual growth and at the time of this talk, she had been walking twenty-six years.

I also found the generosity model of S.N Goenka’s ten-day silent meditation courses and the way they run their finances inspiring; when you do one of these ten-day silent meditation courses, everything about the Course is already paid for because previous participants made a donation for somebodies future course.

For part 2, click here