I Am Rich and Wealthy
My Stories in Pictures
My Private Practice in Marriage Family Therapy
There are many success “gurus” out there, and I think they are important people, and so choose your gurus wisely. There is no such being as a self-made man or woman. Remember the well-known poem by John Donne, No Man Is An Island. Yes, we are genetically designed for connection, and some of the folks we are connected to, we will look up to and follow, and others, we ourselves will lead. So, again, choose your gurus wisely. In someways, this is who you will become.
Over the years, I have chosen to follow many different gurus. Wayne Dyer, Harv Eker, Julia Cameron, Virginia Satir, John Bradshaw, Grant Cardone, Alberto Villoldo, Susan Reintjes, Og Mandino, Dom Miguel Ruiz, Joe Vitale, Vern Bradley, Paul Coelho, Bill O’Hanlon, Bruce Fountain, and many others. My favorite guru and mentor is a guy in Morro Bay, David Bradley. Not sure how I found him, but he is hardly obscure. He inspires me every day. I’m in awe of all that he sets out to do, and more in awe of all that he accomplishes. I keep an eye on him, I do, and continue to piggyback on what he has discovered, to achieve my own insane dreams. For whatever reason, I have never had to pay him a dime. How cool is that!
Why do I call my dreams “insane”? Well, dreams are always insane, always irrational, always extraordinary, always beyond the boundaries of faith. That’s what makes dreams, dreams.
What I want to share with you today is that sometimes I forget that I am successful. I thought some of you might also have this same memory problem or perhaps don’t even know you are successful in the first place. So I thought I would spend a “few” words reflecting on the past thirty-three years of my own success. “My own success.” Did I just write that? Wow, what a misnomer. Too many people have been a part of my success to call it my own including the thousands of clients I have been privileged to serve.
So I will start at the beginning. I created a private practice in Marriage Family Therapy, in August, 1982, the very month I was licensed. I didn’t wait a second to get my business up and running.
Some very important business-savy people in my life, at that time, told me that I needed at least a year’s worth of capital (100 grand?) in the bank before starting out on this venture. It was difficult to push back that kind of information/advice especially since I did not have sufficient funds for even office space. I mean how can you start a practice without office space? And of course, once you have office space, you have to furnish it and turn on the utilities and so on and so on and so on and hell, maybe they are right!
But I also had a business guardian angel (not a human!) who whispered loud and clear. “You can afford a business phone, an answering machine, and business cards.” Of course! And that was all I really needed to begin spreading the word to family, friends, colleagues, and anyone I had a conversation with about anything, that I was now open for business. Writing this paragraph makes me laugh!
That kind of “simple” marketing cost me zero funds. Yes, at times, this marketing strategy cost me challenges to my confidence when people would ask, “So where’s your office?” But I soon became comfortable replying, “Until I find my office, I am doing house calls, like the old time doctors.” And I did. I went to client’s homes, and you know what? That worked out just fine. In fact, I was very experienced with in-home family therapy. I actually designed and developed an in-home family therapy program for the in-patient treatment program where I worked prior to venturing out on my own, and a great deal of my internship experience came from providing in-home family therapy. How serendipitous was that!
But I continued looking for office space in Yucaipa. That’s where I wanted my practice. In addition, there were a number of colleagues who invited me to join their practices. But there was always something about the proposed financial arrangements that did not fit for me. So, one day, I sadly concluded there wasn’t any office space in Yucaipa that I could afford, and I would just have to continue providing in-home services.
This was one of the most important lessons of my life. Because I believed there was no office space that I could afford, I literally drove by a for-rent sign on office space that I could afford, every day FOR SIX MONTHS and NEVER saw it!
Then one morning, I woke up, and my business guardian angel whispered once again, loud and clear, “There’s got to be someplace in this little town that you can afford.” And that’s the morning I saw the for-rent sign for the first time. I stopped and viewed the space, and it was perfect. The rent was $175.00 per month. What a steal! Or was it more like, that’s impossible! But it wasn’t. It was not only possible but real.
So then I went shopping for furniture, again wondering how I could afford to furnish the space. The waiting room already had a couch in excellent condition, but I did not like the pattern on the fabric, so a quality couch cover took care of that. But what about the large therapy room?
Well, wouldn’t you know it, J. C. Penny had a furniture sale that week. There it was, a large 9 x 9 sectional couch big enough to sit an entire village. The couch, custom made for a customer who bailed, originally priced at 2200.00, had been marked down to 750.00. “That’s your sign,” the angel whispered! I’m laughing again.
I then discovered that my next door neighbor of six years owned a furniture store! When I told him about a really cool roll-top desk I saw at J. C. Penny for 1600.00, he checked his catalogue and found the identical desk, and sold it to me for 600.00. In gratitude, I provided marital therapy for him and his wife at no fee till they killed each other! I know, that’s not funny or is it? Of course, I made that up. Well, the first part of the story is absolutely true. He found the desk for me and sold it to me for 600.00.
I practiced in that office for exactly twenty years and served hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of families, children, men and women, young and old alike. Had I listened to the business-savy people, I would never have served these awesome people nor allowed them to shape me into the skilled therapist I am today.
BUT, had I listened to the business experts, I would never had encountered the financial challenges of the last thirty-three years. I would never have incurred the incredible debt (nor had the experience of paying it off). I would never have had so many phone conversations and such an abundance of correspondence with the IRS or Franchise Tax Board (nor realized how much money I can generate on my own and consequently owe a chunk of tax!). Yes, indeed, you know you’re rich when you owe the IRS a ton of money! Think of taxes as a sign you are wealthy beyond your own wildest imagination. Taxes do not detract or subtract from your wealth. They only help you realize what a great generator of money you are! So the pundits were right about one thing. It might have been very helpful to have started out my business with a hundred grand in the bank. But I doubt I would have learned what I learned, and I really doubt that I would have been as successful.
Grant Cardone, in his best selling work, Sell To Survive, tells us that success as a business person begins with being sold on myself. So, instead of being sold on the good advice of the savy ones, I chose to be sold on my desire, my passion, and my belief in myself that I could pull “it” off, that going into practice for myself was a not only a possibility but a reality.
So I want to go back for a moment to the for-rent sign that I drove by every day for six months and never saw, and to what I referred to as one of the most important lessons of my life. Never forget that whatever I believe to be impossible and or non-existent, IS impossible and non-existent, for example, office space that I could afford. And the contrary, whatever I believe exists and is possible, DOES exist and IS possible. It just may not have shown up yet, or I just haven’t seen it yet, whatever that “it” is. Office space, furniture, income, a thriving practice, cash paying clients, recognition, whatever I want to believe exists or is possible.
This is such a profound principle in every human endeavor. This principle is what makes it possible for the rock climber to climb the mountain without ropes. It’s what makes it possible for the gymnast to perform what seems like impossible moves and flips and jumps. It’s what makes it possible for the quarterback and the receiver to throw and catch the impossible pass with only a second left on the clock. It’s what made it possible for us to venture into outer space. Yes, the examples are endless. This principle can also make it possible for you to perform in business in ways you might otherwise consider impossible and out of reach, in ways that defy the “shoulds” of so-called savy or good business.
This principle is the main ingredient in creativity, dreaming, manifesting, envisioning, in what some refer to as the law of attraction, and in the secret mirror exercises. One might even go so far as to say that this principle of faith or belief is what makes it possible for some folks prayers to be answered while other folks prayers are also answered, but they either don’t believe it or see it.
Here’s another thing I have learned. Sometimes we define success in a way that eliminates what we might call past or current success. Let’s say, for example, I want to generate a thousand more dollars this month than last month. The tendency is to no longer consider last month’s dollars as success. When I eliminate the amount of money I generated last month from my success equation, I also eliminate the energy and excitement that is “inherent” in last month’s earnings. The door is wide open then for exhaustion to set in, a feeling that I ran out of gas, worse a feeling that I am a failure after all, and that last month’s money was a fluke.
What I have come to see and honor is that it is ALL success, and I find it generative to be proud of and excited about each milestone along the success trail. As long as I keep moving, continue to generate the excitement and the energy, continue to be sold on myself, the business keeps moving, keeps generating excitement and ultimately generates funds. I don’t think it is magic nor a secret. It’s just how life works, how energy works, how vision works, how faith works.
I keep referring to funds because it dawned on me several years ago that there really is no such thing as money with intrinsic value. Perhaps there is nothing with intrinsic value. Every thing we value has that value by attribution or assignment. But there is such an item as “funds,” and we either have sufficient funds or insufficient funds, and the bank has the business-savy or the audacity to charge us for both!
Since the so-called crash of seven or eight years ago, I have learned other interesting and paradoxical lessons. At the end of 2007, I was on a progressive path of increasing income each month. At one point I had increased cash flow by almost sixty percent. I was so excited and literally beside myself. Well, until that progression ended and began slipping backwards.
I became angry and quite resentful that clients no longer saw my services as a priority in their lives, that the insurance companies began to cut the rate of reimbursement, that cash paying clients could not see their way to pay my customary fee, and that no one wanted to purchase my book. I am grateful that I am not one to throw in the towel, or to drown as a victim, and that I continued to swim and continued to believe there was a way out and a way up. I did a great deal of reading, many books that stoked the fires of my soul, morning pages, meditating, sharing, talking, brainstorming, and unfortunately also drinking. Unfortunately as well, my focus gradually shifted to just weathering the storm and survival. And I eventually stopped dreaming. Life at times was a nightmare, and I became quite skilled at treading water.
While treading water, I decided it was time to get sober, for good this time, and I slowly started piecing my life back to a place of peace and serenity. But I wasn’t up for any challenges. Living on my social security sounded fine to me. I wanted to be content with who I was and what I had already accomplished and also at home with my failures. And I stopped dreaming.
Then I read the book, The Go Givers by Bob Berg and Tom Mann. It was interesting to me. Intriguing. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy into the concept. To give more value than you receive in compensation felt like a final surrender to everything I had already given up on. I had worked so diligently to build up my confidence in telling people that if they wanted to work with me, it was going to cost them one hundred fifty dollars an hour, and if they wanted to read my book, well, of course, they were going to have to pay for it. I never believed in giving anything for free no matter how bad the economy was. I didn’t want to be the mattress guy with the high squeeky voice! Although it was obvious he was more successful selling mattresses and chairs than I was selling therapy. I’m laughing again.
Perhaps the fact that I read the book at a time when I literally had nothing left, no house, no car, little to no cash, an office I was barely affording, made it possible for me to see that I literally had nothing to lose by letting the five laws of stratospheric success sink into my soul. This did not happen overnight. In fact, I would say, it has been a two-to-three-year process to date, and even at that, I think I am just scratching the surface of what the book continues to offer me.
But here are some of the changes I started making. First, I stopped looking at my monthly income as a measure of anything. I stopped trying to get potential clients to pay my customary fee. I stopped worrying about how much money I was generating from book sales and became more concerned about how many people were reading my book. Most importantly, I began to genuinely value what I had to offer clients. I stopped questioning myself, and began to be at home with the knowledge that I was an experienced and skilled therapist who had and could continue to support clients to face the most difficult of life challenges. I stopped thinking that since I couldn’t make my own marriage work, that people would look at my book and laugh, and I began to see my divorce as a point of credibility.
Again, in Grant Cardone’s book Sell To Survive, he shares the personal story of one day, having a trunk load of red snapper and realizing that he could empty that entire trunk basically by letting people know he had a trunk load of fish. How simple is that? And no, it wasn’t the smell!
I began to realize that I too had a trunk load of fish, namely, my skills, my life experience, a book, a heart, a brain, a sense of humor, and it was time for me to let people know that I am here ready to give them what I have. Reminds me a little bit of the movie, Field Of Dreams. Build it and they will come. Let them know I am here, and they will say, “When can I get into to see you?” People started saying to me, “this is what I can afford” without me even addressing the issue of fee. I began giving a copy of my book to each couple that comes in for therapy. Cost me a big three dollars and twenty-five cents. AND people come back to session quoting the book.
Besides working with my private practice clients which varies from 10 to 20 clients per week, I also teach parenting classes twice a week, supervise therapist in training four hours a week, provide counseling services at Crafton Hills College four hours a week, and throughout the year facilitate training workshops for a variety of organizations and businesses. Seems like a lot when I write it down, but where I see myself really exercising the 10 X rule is in my constant engagement with people. If you and I are in the elevator together, you will have no need to look down or at the numbers. You and I are going to solve the world's problems in one floor, two floors, or for however long you are willing to be on the elevator with me! I'm conscious not to be rude or too intrusive, but everywhere I go, I engage. In the grocery store, I will volunteer my opinion when I see you trying to decide what item to purchase. When I am eating at my favorite restaurant and I hear you are not sure what to order, I am going to give you my recommendations. Wherever I go, I engage and often people not only want to know my name but what I do. Wow! There you go! Homeless or VIP, I am engaging.
Here's an interesting phenomenon. When I strike up a conversation with a stranger, sometimes the person tells me of some impossible life challenge they are facing. I will often say, "Here's my card. Call me. Make an appointment." It's not unusual for that person with the impossible life challenge to respond with, "I can't afford therapy." I quickly respond with, "Forget about the fee, just get your ass into my office." Others within hearing range will approach me and ask for a card. The person to whom I offered the service for no fee typically does not call, but the other people do! And when they do, they are quick to tell me what they can afford, and sometimes, it is my customary fee, and sometimes it is much less than my customary fee, and sometimes it is everything in between. Amazing to me. The bottom line is I have more money in my checking account than I have ever had. I have more money in my savings account than I have ever had. I have been able to stay on top of my taxes and even had another therapist ask to use one of the extra rooms in the office for his practice. I have never wanted to share office space with anyone for many many reasons, but this has been the most perfect fit and an incredible financial boon. It’s kind of like I quit trying so hard or maybe I just quit trying and now I “just” do my “thing,” and I value my thing and I am sold on my thing and I have the nerve and courage to tell people that I can assist them in very short order. I even humbly tell them that I know exactly what their issues are and the solution even before they make an appointment. And it’s not out of arrogance. It’s simply about valuing my experience and my skills and then being willing to give my experience and my skills without worrying about compensation. I didn’t say I don’t want people to pay me. I didn’t say I don’t care if people pay me. I said I stopped worrying about it. I believe they will pay me whatever they can afford and that runs the entire gamut. But I don’t worry about it, and I enjoy giving my service full-heartedly to whomever steps inside the office. When people experience me valuing what I have to offer, they value it as well and are willing to invest on whatever level their financial situation allows them to invest. It’s just like when I started my practice in 1982. What I could invest in was a phone, answering machine, and business cards, and that was enough to begin something that has grown little by little and in recent times in leaps and bounds.
Interestingly enough, as I wrote that last paragraph, I realized that in so many ways, my business now is my life and my life, my business. I do not see that as negative. At almost age seventy, I could taunt myself with the idea that I should be retired, but I didn’t plan well so I can’t, or I can be more honest and at home with the fact that I really don’t want to retire. I love doing what I do, whether it is writing, working with clients, teaching, giving workshops, or engaging all the interesting and scary people "out there.". It ALL gives me life. And the reality is that, in recent years, I have had plenty of retirement days, and I now enjoy them instead of fretting about them. Before they represented zero funds. Now they are hours and days for myself, my friends, my family, and my soulmate, when I or we get to do whatever I or we want, and sometimes I actually add funds to the pot just by having a serendipitous conversation with someone looking for a therapist. How cool is that?
There is a spiritual component or a spiritual awakening, if you will, to my story which I think almost automatically springs out of the principle of being willing to give without concern for what I get back. Yes, another word for giving is service. It’s like waiting tables, perhaps.
If you begin practicing this principle, you will discover your own doorway, your own pathway, your own definition of what I am calling a spiritual component or spiritual awakening. From my own experience, it is not related to what we typically think of as religious. It is definitely a willingness to let go of trying to control what I have no control over. It is definitely having the courage to change what I can change. It’s definitely learning the true meaning of love, and I can honestly say I love the people I serve. Why not? Why wouldn’t I? It is trusting that there is a Power in life that is genuinely abundant and caring. It is learning that there is a groove of abundance and caring into which I can step if I choose. It is knowing the difference between pain and suffering. It is waking up each morning and being ecstatic to be alive and have an opportunity to do my thing with absolutely no concern for what benefit that will win me today.
This spiritual experience has also taken me to a place of humility. Not the humility of humble pie, but a knowing that I am an important, in fact very important, but nevertheless small cog in this universe where I can literally co-create my own life, my own reality, but there is also a very clear awareness that I am not the Creator. My experience in the last almost five years has shown me that if I get just that much, I will be home free with no need to develop a theology, a church, a belief system, nor a heaven and hell. I can almost say that I no longer have to be right or wrong about anything. Although I can give you the names of those who would not beg to differ, they just do!
So to sum it all up, I am rich today, wealthy beyond my wildest imagination. The funds in my bank account will never equate with my wealth, although I have more funds than ever. I have learned specifically from Harv Eker that being rich and wealthy begins in my thoughts and in my mind. I’ve learned from Wayne Dyer the importance of stimulating the emotions that go with whatever it is you are wanting to manifest. So I make it a point to FEEL rich and wealthy. Pretty amazing! So when I begin to think, feel, and live in a wealthy and rich way, I literally begin to do what wealthy and rich people do. It’s the be do have paradigm, and it’s very real for me.
I know somewhere deep inside that if I ever revert back to have do be and begin hoarding funds and investing energy solely into increasing them, that I will once again lose everything. Most importantly I will lose the experience of being successful, a successful person, a successful man, a successful therapist, a successful author, a successful friend, a successful Dad, a successful lover, a successful servant, successful in every way one can become successful each and every day.
Thank you for reading. I am imagining reading my story supports you becoming aware of just how successful you are right now today. I also imagine that, as you reflect on your success, you will see an on-going pattern of success, of life unfolding with perfect timing, an unfolding of which perhaps you have been unaware. And when you look at this pattern of unfolding, allow yourself to believe that life will continue to unfold successfully for you, exactly as you dream it to unfold There is no reason to believe otherwise unless you choose to buy into the belief that it is not in the cards for you or some other undermining notion. Continue to live your success story each and every day, one day at a time.
Grant Cardone has a "library" of books and CD's, and each will take you to places you believed impossible. Check out "Sell Or Be Sold" and "The 10 X Rule."
"The Power of Intention," "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life," "I Can See Clearly Now," are also extremely rich works to devour.
There are several important books in this genre that will stir you to take another chance or another step up the mountain. Books like "The Traveler's Gifts," by Andy Andrews, Og Mandino's "The Greatest Miracle In The World,"
Last, but not least, my own book. Informative, funny, and a recipe for healing your relationship.