A new perspective on how we are—in the boardroom, bedroom and at the bank—affects our ability to implement world-shifting change.
The life of a change maker sounds exotic: travel to far-away destinations, meetings with venture capitalists, late-night brainstorming with creative partners. We talk epic innovation. We pitch in 30 second, one minute and five minute sound bytes. We boast about the next “unconference” that we’ll be attending.
But there are two conversations that always have us running for the door: sex and money.
Really, who has time for a relationship when you’re saving the world? And why does a livable salary matter if your work advances global peace? Every day we advocate for sustainability and a holistic lifestyle. Why then do sex and money get downplayed when we talk about living a life that truly makes a difference?
I believe that we have a lot to learn from the co-existence of sex, money and change making. We do ourselves a disservice by compartmentalizing who we are in our personal and professional lives. What world-shifting visions might we be able to achieve when we examine our relationship with the most personal—perhaps even taboo—areas of our life?
Here are five ways that sex and money can be our greatest teachers and help us to amplify and accelerate the work we do in the world:
1. We learn to ask for what we want (and need).
Change making isn’t easy. Whether your vision is a world free of childhood cancer or something closer to home like reducing your carbon footprint, your success depends on your ability to know what you want and need—and then ask for it.
As salacious as it sounds, our ability to communicate our desires during intimate moments in the bedroom primes us for the same level of risk-taking in the boardroom.
2. We get clearer on our values.
Somewhere in between eating ramen noodles and caviar for dinner every night, there is a threshold of earning that enables us to live to our values. For some of us, that will lead us to shine in a missionary-like role working in the midst of poverty (think: Mother Theresa). For others, it means that an amassed fortune is the difference between whether school-aged children in Africa receive a secondary school education or not (think: Oprah).
While money doesn’t dictate our ability to create change, it’s not the enemy either. The perfect level of earning is the point where we can share our gifts with maximum impact.
3. We choose relationships that support our growth.
None of us can create lasting change on our own. We need supporters who believe in our message and us. Both sex and money teach us how to align ourselves with people who share our vision for the future and will help us to achieve it.
A bad relationship will show us the importance of a few good dates before we jump into bed with a partner. A good financial advisor can help us see that money isn’t an end to a means, but a means to help us advance our cause. Through sex and money we learn to hone our intuitive ability to choose relationships that support our growth.
4. We get naked with our vulnerability.
Dialogue is a powerful transformational tool. There are many global problems that could be addressed with true authentic dialogue: between the haves and the have-nots, between warring nations, between neighbors that share natural resources. True dialogue requires that we expose ourselves to our fears.
Nowhere are we more exposed than in our sexual relationships—a sacred space in our personal lives where we can trust, connect and learn from others. This same kind of naked vulnerability is what’s needed to gain access to deeper awareness and more powerful solutions on the stage of global change.
5. We confront our shadows.
At the heart of many change efforts is a global future with sustainable returns of money and meaning. And, yet, there is a tension between those two ideas—as though the presence of money negates the power of meaning.
When we learn to confront the beliefs that lurk in the shadows about money, we strengthen our ability to discover other hidden beliefs that hamper our ability to create change. As Jung says, “Most of the shadow is solid gold.”
Laura Elizabeth is a one-woman impact accelerator and coach for Gen Y women who want to live their life like they’re on a mission. She believes that real change happens at the intersection of strategy and soul (and is still discovering just how sex and money come into play).
Editor: Ryan Pinkard / Brianna Bemel