Sunday, November 15, 2015

"He's obviously a werewolf!"

Last night I had a financial dream that I thought was pretty impactful for me.

I happened to be the only customer in a big bank where the board of trustees were preparing to have a meeting. I was talking with a banker who happened to be one of the owners so I got pulled into this board meeting. I had gone in wearing my regular street clothes so felt very out of place sitting in a circle with a bunch of older people who were all dressed very nicely. Before the meeting one of the oldest ladies was talking and joking around with me to involve me in the pre-meeting conversations.

Then as the meeting began I tried to excuse myself but that same old woman, who happened to be the majority shareholder of this bank, asked that we start the meeting with me introducing myself to the board because she thought that it would be helpful for them to hear from one of their customers. Needless to say I was very intimidated.

As I started to stand I felt a hand press on my shoulder to keep me from standing up and a very very well dressed and groomed man in his late 40’s ask if it would be alright if he introduced me to the board. He admitted that he had never met me before but that he had been paying close attention to me since he had arrived and felt that he had a good idea about me, but he began by turning to me and saying, “But to start off I want you to know that I don’t like you.”

I don’t remember everything that was said but I remember three main points that he made about me based on his observations:
1) “He is undoubtedly not a full tithe payer.” (Audible gasp from the crowd).
2) “He obviously has issues paying his lenders on time.” Implying that I was in debt and came to the bank seeking a loan that I didn’t intend to be able to pay back. (Even bigger gasp from the crowd).
3) “The backs of his hands are so hairy that I can tell that he doesn’t have very high personal standards and he’s probably a werewolf.” (Not sure what that had to do with anything but that was the point that he tried to make.)    

Those were just his main points of accusations, but there was also a lot of other insults and supporting “evidence” intermixed in there as well. My first reaction was that I was pretty upset and wanted a chance to defend myself against these hurtful and inaccurate accusations. So when he finally sat down I asked if it was my turn to introduce myself but was cut off by someone else saying, “No, it’s my turn.”

It happened to be my CFO from work. He came and stood by me and promptly proved to everyone that I was not a werewolf and then proceeded to inform the board about my professional life.

When he sat down I once again asked if it was my turn now but was once again interrupted by someone saying, “No, it’s my turn.” This time the man that came to stand next to me was my wife’s former mission president. We had gotten to know them very well after we got married. We attended all of their mission reunions, watched General Conference with them at least 6 times, and even invited us to live in a one of their rental homes that was next door to them for free my last semester of college. So, he proceeded to introduce me in terms of my family life and tell them about my wife and children.

By the time that he sat down half of the people in the room had tears in their eyes and the others were glaring at the smug looking jerk that had first “introduced” me. So again I asked if it was my turn but once again someone said, “No, it’s my turn.” And this time it was my current bishop who stood beside me with tears running down his face and introduced me in terms of my church service, diligent tithing paying, and that I am a father who diligently teaches his children the doctrines of salvation.

By the time that he sat down I wasn’t sure if I was emotionally stable enough to speak but felt a hand on my knee as one of my favorite mission companions who happened to work for the bank and had been sitting next to me the whole time stood and announced that it was his turn. He then proceeded to share some of the observations that he had made about me while we were together 24/7 for 12 weeks in the mission field in Africa.

I don’t remember much about what he had to say because I woke up to a crying baby who was ready for his breakfast just after he started his introduction. As I later pondered on the dream I was able to identify a few points that felt very meaningful to me.

  • First, that we do look and act very poor. I’m sure that, by appearance, people do assume some of those negative things about me, like being an irresponsible werewolf who has a negative net worth. But in fact we’re striving for the Millionaire Next Door principles for success.
  • Second, that there are several people out there who have gotten to know me enough to know better and think very good things about me.
  • Third, sometimes you have to just ignore the haters of the world and realize that they don’t know everything that they think they do.  
  • Fourth, our actions are more important than our net worth. I kept wanting to attack his claims by telling my net worth, but these very successful people attacked his claims by proving my character and the good things that I did and never mentioning a thing about money.
  • And lastly, even though I often feel very alone and aloof from others, my wife and I have developed good relations with people that love us for who we are and not what we can do for them.   

So, my challenge from all of this is to try to focus more on being a good person and helping others and less on only doing things with the attitude of “what’s in it for me”.

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