Our Financial Crisis – Money is Truly About Behavior and Discipline

Posted on October 1, 2008


My second post of Lencioni’s commentary. This is the closing paragraph from “The Financial Crisis.”

The Table Group - A Patrick Lencioni Company

Pat's Point of View

And so the lesson that comes from all of this, or at least one of the most important ones, has nothing to do with legislation or economic policy or oversight. It is a personal lesson that each of us can learn by honestly and humbly asking ourselves what we would have done had we been a board member or an executive at one of those companies that did something that seems so clearly wrong in hindsight. By considering that question, we will probably shift our emotional energy away from trying to find a legislative, economic or legal explanation for the mess we’re in, and shine the light on the behavioral one that really deserves the attention. And perhaps that will help us avoid the next crisis. (italics mine)


Working with people that constantly have financial issues, I’ve come to learn that the vast majority of money problems (if not all of them) have more to do with these behavioral habits than it has to do with financial savvy or intricate budgeting. Great budgets and good bank accounts do not cause “good financial order,” they are merely evidences of good discipline. Here are some questions to ask that may help evaluate one’s attitude and behaviors when it comes to money:

  • Do you consistently have an attitude of being “behind” financially?
  • When unexpected money comes your way, is it spent or saved?
  • Is your answer to financial trouble to pay less, work more, or to lower your standard of living?
  • Are credit cards used for convenience or for actual credit?

This crisis has also highlighted our Genesis tendency to “entitlement” and “responsibility avoidance.” Why do so many believe that they have the “right” to a certain standard of living? It feels as if we have lost the value of “privilege” and replaced it with a sense of mere “ought” simply because I live in this country. The “pursuit of happiness” does not instantly mean all the tangible amenities that are so often perceived as accompanying happiness. Our perceptions are skewed, our entitlement attitudes are corrupt, and our economy is merely the victim of those behaviors. Coupled with that, when things do go bad, let us recognize when and where we weren’t responsible enough to read the fine print on documents that we sign, and to plan and think about the future and the risks that are inherent in any financial endeavor.

Last, the usage of terminology is also indicative of our predicament. Words and attitudes like “crisis” and “bailout” communicate a sense of urgency and panic amongst the people and the market. I find it frustrating and saddening, that so much of our peace and comfort is found in the arena of money. I recognize that it is somewhat of a catch-22. Money is the pipeline through which life flows. Quoted another way, Money is like breathing. We don’t live to breathe, but we must breathe to live. [1] But we must be willing to recognize that even this analogy breaks down, as money has not always been the means through which life existed. We have simply created a system that has forced the issue, and now, we’re paying the consequences of dependency upon that system. Regardless, we must not panic.

JESUS AND MONEY. As many of you already know, Jesus talked quite a bit about money, and this is arguably the most famous passage,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:19-21

While Washington may bailout our wallets, who is going to bailout our hearts?

[1] sorry I don’t have a citation for this.