Breaking the binary paradigm

Our team has been learning from mentor and friend Carol Sanford over the past six months. If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that she’ll say something to flip our world upside down, and then follow it up with concepts, nuanced language and intention that reveals the full potential of where we can go from that moment of feeling flipped upside down.

Last week, we spoke with Carol about “breaking the binary paradigm.” Whoa. Let’s unpack that. A snapshot of much of the prevailing culture and traditional competitive business thinking might look like this: Haves and have nots. Competitor across the street. Win or lose. Us vs. them. Me or you.

Personally in my life, I grapple with binary thinking when it comes to time. It makes me remember a poem regularly discussed with a good friend during Monday morning commutes and Friday afternoon rallies to the mountains:

One can’t have it
both ways, and both
ways is the only
way I want it.

(A.R. Ammons)

Sir, I respectfully disagree. As small business owners, we often choose both ways… pushing our minds during the business week, bodies playing outside over the weekend, and still showing up socially for our friends and family. (Ok, I’ll admit sleep time loses out.) I call it getting the most out of life.

What if we applied the same resource audacity to our local financial system? After all, money doesn’t need to sleep!

Over the last few months, we’ve been discovering just how ambitious community finance can be. Individuals aren’t the only ones sharing money with the businesses they love—competitors are sharing too. Fellow farmers purchased Squares in Starvation Alley Farms. Colleagues in the solar industry have supported A&R Solar. And my personal favorite: bankers wanting to buy Squares in their customers’ businesses.

You might say they aren’t a very competitive banker. I say, “they get it.”

Welcome to the world of sufficiency. In her book The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist shares the idea of sufficiency in the financial world. Instead of accumulation, loss, gain and scarcity, she surmises that there is always enough money available to make what needs to happen a reality. Its just about attitude and approach, and considering needs instead of wants.

We’re simply talking about a better use of resources. For something as easily and intentionally transferrable as money, its surprising we don’t do it more. Instead of “a dollar saved is a dollar earned,” perhaps “a dollar shared works like two.”

One can’t have it
both ways, and both
ways is the only
way I want it.

We challenge Mr. Ammons and say “Yes, you can have it both ways.” When you share, there is enough.

This is the second in our series Small business helping small business.

Alex Mondau

Author: Alex Mondau

Alex manages business development for Community Sourced Capital. That means he spends most of his time meeting with small business owners or working with the people at CSC who get to work with business owners.

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