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Does Everything Need a Label?


mick haupt RFVCEQICQUA unsplash scaled

On Monday I woke up early and drove 15 minutes to Tiger Mountain outside of Seattle to get in a quick run before the week began. Well, I don’t know if it was actually a run; maybe more like a fast hike for a good portion of it. The trails give me room to turn off my brain a little bit and declutter. We spend so much time reacting to the circumstance of the frenzy of business, that creating some space to experience a bit of calm is important.

One of the things I pondered on that run is an awareness of how easy it is for me to assign labels and names to everything. I need to give props to Eckhart Tolle who talks extensively about this in his book, A New Earth. Assigning labels to things (good, bad, ugly, successful, failure, capable, incapable, etc..) is a shallow reality. All of those labels are just through the perception of my lens (my eyes). Are they really so? Or are these convenient labels that allow me to justify something that satisfies me in some way (yes, my ego)? What if we paused for a moment and didn’t drive toward a label? What if what we are experiencing is what it “is”, nothing more and nothing less?

And why am I sharing this in this newsletter and how on earth does it related to accounting and finance? Well, because it is easy to look at information and assign a label quickly.

“Our numbers are down. I am failing.”
“Our numbers are up. I am smart.”
“This expense was not properly classified. Our financials are wrong.
“We didn’t close that deal. That guy was an a**hole.”
“We lost an employee. Our culture is weak.”

And on and on and on and on and on.

But what if you let go of the labels? What if it just “is” and there isn’t a judgement? What if there was no assignment of blame or condemnation or self-flagellation. What if you had the awareness that this label is not a fact but only your perception which may or may not be true. Or consider this: what if the opposite of your label was actually correct? So what could you do without labels?

Here are three things to consider the next time your instinct is to assign a label:

1. Get curious. Look at the facts and then open yourself to a bunch of various interpretations. Resist the label.

2. Take your 100% responsibility. It’s easy to point fingers when things go wrong and point thumbs (toward ourselves) when things go right. But first consider asking what your role was in contributing to the results.

3. Live your worth. We often use labels in a way that helps us reinforce our identity (for good or ill). When we do this, we are typically trying to prove (to ourselves or others) who we are. Consider how free you might be if you didn’t need to spend time proving your worth but rather, could live it.

So we tend to think about accounting, finance, numbers as these things that are black and white, good and bad. But consider for a moment that information is simply a portal into presence (it “is”) and it is totally up to you how you choose to respond to it. Our role is to help you navigate that journey.

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