Griggs: No old dollar bills; match your currency to your life

Defiant and vacation-deprived, I flew to Managua, Nicaragua, knowing full well that my speech had yet again been canceled. The host CEO had run afoul of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, leading him to schedule and re-schedule conferences in Europe and South America. 

In early 2020, Wellbeing for Planet Earth (Gallup) posed an illuminating question across 116 countries: Would you rather lead a calm or an exciting life? Having witnessed the rolling trends grasping at authenticity, work-life balance, emotional intelligence, “work hard — play hard,” and mindfulness, I was sure I knew the survey answer. For years I half-jokingly attached the zippy little phrase, “helping you live long enough to spend the money you’re trying to make” to my consulting brand.

What’s your currency motto?

• “Another day another dollar” — Money becomes the tool and the end result of all worthy endeavors.

• “Circle the wagons and protect the family” — You place the highest value on your close attachment to family, local citizens and your country. 

• “Steady on to a higher goal” — You are motivated, energized and filled with self-worth by attacking and obliterating the next objective.

As I study balance, happiness and achievement throughout the world I see three drivers that harden like cement in a person’s life. I offer these three currencies for your individual life choices. A big decision now to realign, rebuild or resign means nothing if it doesn’t match what you truly value in your world.

Most of us are surrounded by similar people with similar drivers. This blinds us to many options and alternate routes in life. Take the blinders off before you quit your job or pivot to something that sounds new and exciting. If not, in three years you’ll have the same bad feeling in your stomach. Find out whether your currency in life is of the wallet, the heart or the head.

The three currencies:

Currency of the wallet — You believe a dollar is for counting and accumulating. You are convinced that the more you have the happier you, your family and the community will be.

Currency of the heart — You see each dollar in a warm and rosy glow of the good it will do for the family and the community. You feel most worthy when loved ones and fellow citizens are secure.

Currency of the head — Every dollar is a tool that moves projects and accomplishments forward. You are happiest when your ideas and efforts come to life.

Three questions on life currency and (even) mental health:

What makes you happiest? When and where in your life do you feel most joyous and filled with meaning? Don’t be surprised if you’ve lost or misplaced these feelings of well-being. They may have been covered by obligations and fear.

What makes you lose track of time? Healing occurs when we lose track of the minute-by-minute; day-by-day burdens of life. When this happens we tend to be aligned with our values — spending less energy to get the right things done. This is why people who swim up the wrong stream burn out and misplace their natural talents and strengths.

What makes you most uncomfortable? If you can hit this bulls-eye you are on track to uncovering the misalignment in your work and your life. We are taught to be tough and uncomplaining — admirable qualities yet stifling. If you can spot what you don’t like early, you can avoid a career of disgust and repulsion.

There would be no speech and no real vacation in South America — armed soldiers on bridges; abandoned infrastructure; homeless encampments in parks. From the people, I learned that their currency was of the heart. Dollars were tools — a few sent home went a very long way. Family and community mattered most. Surprisingly, they would only accept “new” dollar bills. The lady who made my roasted chicken lunch smiled as she offered me the corazón (heart). The meal cost one dollar and fifty cents and she would not accept a tip.

In that Gallup survey, more than 70% chose a “calm” life.

Rick Griggs is a former Intel Corp. training manager and inventor of the rolestorming creativity tool. He runs the 10-month Leadership Mastery Academy. rick.griggs83@gmail.com or 970-690-7327.