Why We Exist? To Live Fully

Why We Exist? To Live Fully

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”   Mahatma Gandhi

The topic of today’s blog post is daunting, one that I’ve been mulling over for months as I’ve worked to craft a mission statement for our company. While some ideas for the blog come to me quickly, this one has taken a long time to form. You could say it has taken me a lifetime.

In this and other posts to follow I will attempt to answer the question of why we do what we do. Ostensibly, I am talking about the work we do at Highland, but in a larger sense I am talking about all the choices we make in our lives.

As I think about why Highland exists, why I chose to start it, and what drives me each day, I keep coming back to the idea: what it means to live fully.

It’s the phrase I used in a recent post, about the loss of my friend and colleague Steve. It applied then and, it occurred to me, should apply to all the events in our lives and the decision we make, even the professional ones.

Obviously the topic is too large for one post, so what I hope to do is to begin unpacking the suitcase of this idea of what it means to live fully.

What I hope to do is lay some kind of foundation to build upon. In future posts, you will recognize some of the concepts I talk about in this one. Living fully is more of a process than a goal, and so is writing about it.

I am convinced one of the most important components of a life fully lived is courage, the trait I was reminded of when Steve passed.

To start Highland, I had to summon the courage to make that choice. The company and all that it has become is the result of that decision.

Before I started the company 13 years ago, I was not living fully. I was stressed out, stuck in a dysfunctional job, feeling the financial pressure of having three children in private school and a new house and mortgage.

I knew I wanted a more balanced life. I wanted to coach my son’s baseball team. I wanted to get to know my wife better.  I could achieve neither without making a change, and that choice took courage. It took the willingness to step into something I didn’t fully understand.

It set me off on a process of self-discovery, healing and personal growth. It deepened my faith and sensitized me to the idea of life as a journey, one that I am still on. That, more or less, is the story of Highland. It is not just the company I run. It has become my canvas.

One of the most important relationships in people’s lives is the one they have with their money. As a wealth manager, I can play a role in that relationship. It can be a constructive one or a destructive one, depending on the choices you make. The paradox of money is that the more of it you have, the more prevalent feelings of fear, worry and perceived control can become. Prosperity sometimes encourages hoarding behavior and false feelings of self-sufficiency. People often say money is freedom. Sadly, money can sometimes lead to less freedom not more.

My hope is to be a lens through which people can view their relationship with money, and to help people make healthy, constructive choices. What does that mean?

It means understanding that money is a means not an end, that it is a tool, and we are not so much its owners as we are its stewards. It means seeing a client as a whole person, not just someone who earns money, but as someone with unique talents and passions, someone with an emotional and spiritual life, someone who is part of a larger family and community.

The more we all keep this in mind, the more likely we will have a healthy relationship with money, and the more likely we will live fully.

In the 13 years I’ve run Highland, I’ve yet to compose a mission statement, partly because there are always more immediate tasks to complete, but also because it has taken me all this time to understand why we do what we do.  I’m exicited about the energy this process has created and I’d love to share more of my story so please send me a note and let’s grab coffee. 

John Christianson
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