WHAT IS MONEY? The 4 Levels Of Understanding…


So now you have been through that first worksheet you should now know how much you are worth. Well, you’ll have a dollar figure anyway, hopefully a positive one. Our task now is to unravel what this means, and start to uncover how we can master money. Because what is money anyway? This is an important thing to think about because we can’t have an effective working relationship with anything, if we don’t know what it is or if even worse, we identify it as something it is not.

Let me ask you right now, what do you think money is? Feel free to pause the video for 10 seconds and have a think and come up with an answer.

The first impulse to answer this question might be to pull out a few £20 notes of our wallets and then placing them on a small but sacred altar. Most people perceive money as paper and metal which somehow has magical powers.

Now, if you let me, I’m gonna share four versions of what money is by using a metaphor of a travelling up a skyscraper. Will take a look at the street level, we’ll head to the 50th floor, to the top of it and then will jump a helicopter and view the whole city.


On the ground level there is the chaos of city life. People are walking in all directions, most in a non-purposeful manner, some fast, some slow and this ground level represents the everyday perspective of money. This is all of our financial transactions from cradle to grave. Our first allowance, first efforts to get a job etc. On this level we learn to invest, how to manage money, how to use money and it’s where we travel on our journey to the great American dream of a white picket fence and retirement.

Most content about money in books, videos or elsewhere tries to educate us on how to navigate this street level more skilfully and more profitably. This is also where most of our financial woes seem to exist and it’s where we look for the solution. If we are dissatisfied with our BMW, we shop for a Porsche.

With that all said there must be more to money than what we’ve explored so far. Because of the simple fact that some people thrive when others die financially. Let’s go inside the skyscraper and take an elevator halfway up to look out of the window.


Halfway up the skyscraper we begin to see patterns of behaviour from not just individual people on the street level but to the whole neighbourhood. Some of the random activity on the street level becomes coherent as we see how the actions of people and vehicles relate to each other. This level represents the first emotional and psychological area where money exists.

This is our personal thoughts and feelings about money. Are you impulsive? Generous? Show off? A warrior? At this level we come to see how our own to attitudes about money are shaped by the neighbourhood that we grew up in.

Did your family consider itself rich, poor or average? Did you grow up in a family surrounded by high-level sales against executives and entrepreneurs? Was it considered impolite to talk about money?

Do you feel that money related to the level of security that you feel in your life? This is one of the most common perceptions of people have about cash. For many people, security is having money in the bank and a strong sales job within a long-standing organisation so they can always get more of it. Additionally, for many people, financial security means emotional security. This is actually one of the more rational beliefs that you can have. Money puts a roof over your head and food on your table, right? Well would you feel secure walking through central London late at night with a suitcase filled with the cash? If money was truly security then this wouldn’t be an issue. Somehow the cash would be able to defend you from being stabbed and robbed Clearly this isn’t the case and so the myth that money is security might just be that, a myth.

What about power? Is money power to you? It would seem that the person who is in the position of giving or withholding money can command respect and loyalty from those people who are dependent on them. Money seems to enable you to have the power to do what you want to do go we want to go. But if money truly is power, how do you account for the fact of someone like Gandhi had the kind of power that free India from the British Empire and he had no money to speak of.

Perhaps you were brought up in a home where money was seen as something that brought sorrow and pain? Have you ever been told that money is evil? This notion stems from the biblical quote that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. However, a moment of reflection shows is that money doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people. You’d have to drop out a lot of £50 notes on top of me right now to do any real harm. Moreover, money is morally neutral.

So, what are your thoughts about money? Do you have any personal belief systems tied with money most likely from the way you were brought up? Are any of these beliefs irrational? If you don’t become conscious of these beliefs you will never have control over your own behaviour.

So if at this level money is defined as our beliefs, rightly or wrongly about money, let’s keep shooting up the skyscraper because we still haven’t uncovered a universal and consistently true definition of money quite yet.


At the top of the skyscraper, we can now we can see the whole city as we scan across the horizon. We can pick out the landmarks, identify the different neighbourhoods and we can see what groups the inhabitant each neighbourhood too. At this level we can see our cultural understanding about money as it is explained by economists, as a store of value and a means of exchange of value.

Money is a completely made up human social invention. It’s only 4000 years old. That’s it. Our ancestors didn’t worry about money because it literally didn’t exist.

Now, within your family unit, it is very unlikely that your partner charged you for cooking your tea when you got home from work last night. It’s unlikely that you charged them cleaning the bathroom last Sunday morning either. At this scale money isn’t needed to store or exchange value.

It is only when our communities became too complex to keep track of all things everyone was doing for each other that we needed a way of exchanging value.

Money is simply a token, a valueless marker, something that theoretically has value to someone else. That may sound like hippy bullshit but at the end of a day, a tenner is just a flat bit of plastic with Jane Austen’s face on it. It’s society that gives it it’s value.

This high-level skyscraper view shows us why we are programmed for young age that we need to work to make a living. If we didn’t, the whole community would fall apart. Typically, were getting paid the equivalent in this random currency that we can store in a bank to the value that we add to our community. Want to have more of these ones and zeros in your bank account? Then perhaps the answer is to add more value.

Next, lets leap up into the air in a helicopter as we travel across the city and see things from an even higher perspective. This is where we start to get a little bit crazy.


It’s time to let go of everything you think you know about money. We go in the helicopter to an even higher perspective and here we recognise that the city itself is not the whole world. At the borders of this city as in your comfort zone, you can see the other choices are available. You’re not a prisoner of the city, destined to spend your life making money in the marketplace that is offered to you. Even if you were born here, we probably haven’t stayed here by choice, you’ve stayed in the city because of responsibilities that you feel you have.

The definition of money that we uncover at this height in a helicopter goes against everything else we have learned so far. All of the false notions we have about money have one thing in common, we identify money as something external to ourselves. If it is something that we don’t have, we fight to get more of it. Money is the master we are the slaves.

So, what is the definition at this level? It is simple – money is something that we choose to trade our life for. I’ll say that again, money is something that we choose to trade our life for.

Our life is the number of hours that we get to spend on this planet. The truth is simple, it is profound. When we go gambling at a casino, we are trading our life for money. When we buy that BMW, you’re trading an awful lot of your life for that one material object. When you take that new job that pays an extra hundred grand a year but you have to work another 20 hours a week have success in it, your trading your life for money.

So how much of your life are you spending earning money, worrying about money, and fantasising how to spend it? For most people, it’s easily more than half of their waking hours. P.T. Barnum once said “money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.” It’s true that money can do us a lot of good, but too often it takes over our lives more than it should.

When you embrace all of this you inherently become financially intelligent. You start to understand that the way money functions in your life is determined by you, not by your circumstances. In this way money isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something that you choose to include in your life in a purposeful way.

The next step to making this real for you is to work out how much of your life you’re trading your money for. Most salespeople barely know their income for the year because they haven’t mastered their pipeline process yet. Never mind knowing how much they earn in a week, how many hours they worked in a week, how many hours they’ev spent commuting to work and everything else that goes along with the sales role.

You need to know all of this before you can actually work out how much of your life you are spending to buy that BMW. Let me paint a picture here more clearly – if you earn $200,000 a year and say after tax that means you bring in $9000 a month, and you want to buy a BMW which is $53,000 that’s very literally means you need to work two months of your life to drive around in a car. Is it really worth it? That is two months of your life that you can never get back.

When you start to scale this up into the fact that it’s not just $9000 a month that you are earning, because you have a lot of additional costs included in that, like funding your commute, clothing, food, et cetera it might be the you have to work two years to buy that car. Again, assuming that you live until your 80 years old is it worth working non-stop, in a job that you don’t love, the 2 to 3% of your life to drive a car this too fast to be driven at full speed on the public highway anyway?

Now, it might be worth it for you, I don’t know, but when we start to understand that we are trading our life, our only non-renewable resource, for things that we assume will make us happier so that then we can spend more life in the job that we don’t particularly like, we understand this vicious circle, not everyone will think that it is worth it.

When non-sales professionals do these calculations, they often go into deep depression for a couple of days afterwards. Salespeople like us have the benefit that our time is scalable. You can become better at selling through the content here in the Sales School, you can raise your income while spending less time at work. So feel privileged to be in a position where this is possible.

With that said this is typically where your feelings about your job and your job identity will bubble to the surface. When you realise you’re paying a lot more to go to work every day than what you thought you were paying and the fact that you been blowing your pay-cheque rewarding yourself surviving another week is all now in your past.

In the next video, we’re gonna look at how much is enough and the nature of fulfilment both of which will hopefully force you to become a better sales person, make more money, have less stress and live a bigger life.



  • Street-level perspective: Our understanding of money at it’s most basic e.g. what it pays for, how we earn it, how we spend it etc.

  • Neighbourhood perspective: Our personal attitudes to money e.g. are we selfish or charitable? Do we like to save money or splurge it?

  • Citywide perspective: Our understanding of money as a concept e.g. money is just a metal or paper object that we ascribe value to so society can properly function.

  • Helicopter perspective: Our perception of money’s effect on our lives e.g. money is usually the thing we spend most of our lives working for and thinking about.

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