My street name is “the Money Lady.” That’s what strangers say when they stop me: “Look, it’s the Money Lady!” Emphasis on money. Early in my career, they seemed to be commenting primarily on the fact that I was always popping up somewhere giving financial advice. But as the years have gone by, I’ve sensed that the people I meet are referring to my success—and that I am powerful in their eyes because I’ve made money.
They’ve got it all wrong. Money didn’t make me powerful. And if it weren’t for the fact that I’m usually standing in a crosswalk when people stop me, I’d tell them that when I first had a lot of money, it served the purpose of showing me exactly how powerless I was. In fact, money has taught me a great many lessons. Let me share them with you:
1. Power comes from who you are, not what you have
Society has programmed all of us to think that external achievement is what gives us power. But that’s only perceived power, and it can be fleeting. I can’t tell you how many times my grandfather would say, “Suze, they can take your house, they can take your job, they can take your money, they can even take your mind, but they can’t take your heart. So you have to grow up valuing your own heart, who you are.”
My grandfather understood the difference between external and internal power. It was something that took me years—and a number of painful experiences—to comprehend. [Read more…]