30: How To Be Your Own Teacher

I got a message recently from one of my listeners.  She asked if I could do a podcast on sharing my favourite books for specific money stages like beginners, intermediate and advanced.  She thought that she was already past the beginner stage and wanted to keep progressing her money knowledge beyond the basics.

I thought this was a great idea and thought I could most definitely do that.

It got me thinking about this concept of being your own teacher.  On this episode we are going to explore this concept and look at why being your own teacher is so important and why you should do it.

Traditionally at school we have a teacher, right? They stand at the front of the room and explain new concepts and we are supposed to listen and learn.  Now in schools these days it is still like that to a point but there has been a big movement towards the teacher being more of a facilitator of knowledge.  What I mean by this is, that you teach a concept, you model how to do it and then the students go off and have a go themselves.  Furthermore, an extension of doing this, and lots of teacher have resistance to it because they have to let go of the ‘control’ a little bit, is to allow the students to self-direct their learning.  There is more trial and error and investigation.

Now I definitely think there is a time and a place for being shown directing HOW to do something.  I’m not suggesting you just put a hairdressing apprentice in front of a client and say here is a head of hair, go for it.  Probably a bit better to show them some basic techniques and then let them have a practise!

I think when it comes to money many of us don’t understand it, so we either put it in the too hard basket or we give it to someone else to manage like a financial advisor.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against financial advisors, but how about being your own financial advisor?

When it comes to money no one knows your situation better than you do.  When it comes to money I seek expert advice when I require it but I teach myself about all the rest and here is why.

I think a lot of us have a lot of fear when it comes to money.  Fear of getting it wrong and fear of losing money.  And I can totally understand not wanting to lose money but the more we learn about it and how to create it the more confident you will feel.

When it comes to being afraid of money or losing money, this is all based on our thoughts.  Also, the thinking that you don’t know how to manage your money is also a thought.  Now this might be true in the sense that you have never learnt how to manage your money.  Thinking you don’t know how to manage money or that you are not smart enough or good enough is not going to get you any closer to managing your money well.  And when we out-source the responsibility of it to someone else we do a couple of things, one, we rob ourselves of a whole lot of learning and life experience.  We also don’t evolve as a person or get any other by products of our learning.

I’m calling complete BS on you not being good at managing your money or knowing how to do it.

How do you get good at managing your money? By managing your money.

Have you ever seen a baby learn how to walk by being shown how to walk or taught how to walk.  Of course not.  We need to do this sh*t for ourselves.  That is where all the learning is.

I think people get this idea about money like it is a foreign language or too hard or too boring.  Do you know how to learn new things?  Of course you do.

When you first learnt how to ride a bike did you read a book about it?  You might have seen someone doing it, watched your older brother or sister riding.  You had an idea about it but then you had to do it for yourself, right.  You had to put the time in.  Learning how to stay balanced.  Brake without falling over.  Basically you taught yourself how to do it by doing it.  It is exactly the same with money.  You have all the answers.  You can figure this out.

I think too often we look outside of ourselves for the answers.  In the past, that was totally my default option for two reasons.  One it seems easier but is it? And two, when we lack confident in our own abilities we look outside of ourselves for the answers.

Have you ever heard that expression to do with something about fishing? If you give someone a fish they get to eat for one night but if you teach someone to fish they will never go hungry.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t say the saying right but Im guessing you know what I mean.  It's like when we do things for our kids because it appears quicker and easier to do it that way but if you leave them to do it for themselves, yes it's slow and hard in the beginning but then they know how to do it for themselves and furthermore they develop confidence in their own abilities instead of always turning to others or looking outside of themselves for the answers. They become self-reliant.

It’s quite similar to when we look for praise and conformation from outside of ourselves.  They know better.  But how do we know they know better.  We are making these assumptions based on our lack of self belief.

When I was first interested in investing I went down the property investment route.  That is what interested me at the time so I went with it.  Now as I learn more about shares I’m starting to see more of a reason to put my money into shares.

But here is the thing, I learnt about property investing by reading about it, studying it, asking other people about what they did, I did a workshop about investing strategies and then I worked out what was best for me by doing it.

I went out and bought a property.  I learnt so much from doing that.  So many things I couldn’t possibly have learnt without doing it.

We are so quick to look to others for advice but we actually have all the answers, we know what is best for us, we know what to do.  I spoke about not using those words 'I don’t know' in a previous post so I wont go into it in detail here.  When faced with something new we often indulge is confusion, in 'I don’t know land' because it keeps us safe and comfortable.  We don’t make mistakes or fail when we are confused or don’t know because we don’t do anything, we don’t move forward.

When I want specific accounting advice, I go to my accountant.  I don’t teach myself advanced accounting strategies but I do know accounting basics.  I know them because I have learnt them and then applied them.  It’s ok to learn from others. Of course, but I think we need to break free from this idea that you need someone else to show you how because someone else’s 'how' isn’t going to work for you.

I share with you what I do so you can have an example of what is possible but my 'how' is not going to be your 'how'.

You will figure out the best way to manage your money by doing just that.  Managing it.

Teach yourself, turn to yourself.  Ask yourself for the answers.  There is so much power in this.

When I learnt how to collect and use data for selecting locations for property investing, what I learnt was;

one, how to do it but two, I realised I didn’t want to be a data analysis person and have to revise and apply this every time I wanted to buy a property so I out sourced this task to a buyer’s agent, but because I had gone through the process of learning about the fundamentals to property investing and how to use the data to make informed decisions, I was confident when liaising with the buyer’s agent because I knew what they were talking about.

Not all buyer’s agents are created equal in my opinion but without doing some study and learning about property investing for myself I wouldn’t be in a position to understand what and why my buyer’s agent chose a particular property.  I would be at the mercy of their decisions and have to blindly trust they were doing right by me which, unfortunately is not always the case.

Now here is where people get scared.  They think it is too hard or complicated but everything is hard and complicated before you know how to do it.  Once you have learnt it becomes simple and easy right?

Think back to when you learnt how to drive a car.  It was so hard in the beginning, so much to have to focus on and be aware of.  Changing gears at the same time as releasing the clutch and pushing on the accelerator.  Now I don’t even think about it.  It’s so automated it is almost scary.  Have you ever go home from work and realised you can’t really remember the drive because it has become so automatic?

So how exactly to you become your own teacher?

You need to stop indulging in confusion.  Confusion is just a convenient excuse to keep us safe and comfortable exactly where we are.  No growth or evolution comes from being comfy on the couch. Two, you have to practising asking yourself for the answers.  At first this will feel foreign and hard.  If you have a life time of practice looking outside of yourself for validation and answers this will take some practice to change but you can change.

When you think 'I don’t know' ask yourself what if I did know how would I do it.  Then follow the answer you give yourself.  Now, that answer might be go and get professional advice.

But you might find that it is something you can actually figure out for yourself.

The satisfaction and confidence that comes from problem solving is a beautiful thing.  We are born problem solvers.  This is how we evolve.

The key takeaway here is, you don’t need to look to others for the answer.

You can look to yourself for the answers.  By doing this you gain so much confidence in yourself and your abilities.  By all means, learn from others but look to yourself first.

Be your own teacher.

And then be your own student.

Experiment, try things, learn by doing.  And then have your own back.   Know that you will make mistakes and that’s okay.

This is how we grow and evolve.  If you are feeling comfortable you’re probably not evolving.

Do you want to evolve?  Teach yourself how.


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