Today’s Guest post comes from Vicki at Make Smarter Decisions. I was thrilled to read Vicki’s guest post as it relates to one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. Plus, she mentions the early days for both my blog and hers in a way that I hope is encouraging for many new readers and followers alike.

Here’s Vicki’s guest post on:

Are Personal Finance Bloggers Rivals or Friends?

I’d consider Matt (aka Distilled Dollar or DD) to be my first blogger friend. We met tweeting great quotes during the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting this spring. I was just getting ready to launch my blog and checked out the Distilled Dollar during one of the meeting breaks.

I loved DD’s focus on reading and how it has impacted his life. As an educator, I could see the “student” in DD and how he applied what he learned. I was also surprised to see that he was only 26. Then I realized that I am old enough to be his mother

And that’s what made me consider how much we might have in common. Even though we share some of the same interests, I wondered if we were simply rivals competing for the same readers or just internet friends. Or could we be both? And what does that really mean?

Turns out that we can be rivals and friends while learning from one another. And we are also part of a really big team of rivals focused on a clear goal – financial independence (FI).

You’ve probably caught the theme of the post. After reaching FI and quitting my full-time job in June, I packed up my office. But I saved one book from my doctoral coursework –  Doris Kearns Goodwin’s, Team of Rivals. The book focuses on Abraham Lincoln’s choice of key cabinet members during his presidency. It explains how he brought in a team of leaders that included people who ran against him and also had very different political agendas.

We used the Team of Rivals in Educational Leadership to better understand how to create diverse teams of school leaders to address new standards and changing student populations. It showed us the importance of listening to other points of view and keeping an open mind.

I actually thought of DD when I took the book off my shelf that day, wondering if he had read it. And he has – but that’s no surprise to me. But today I want to look at three specific shifts in thinking that are related to personal finance and are “take-aways” from the Team of Rivals.

Shift #1 – Competing to Collaborating

My son had his first high school football game this week against a rival who beat them in the sectional finals last fall. In rivalries like this, competition creates winners and losers. (And yes, they won 26-0!)

Lincoln brought in rivals not to compete with, but to collaborate with and learn from.  And I see many personal finance bloggers doing the same thing. We read, comment on and question one another in an effort to learn and grow. And hopefully our readers win in the end.

Every time someone makes an extra payment to reduce debt, learns about a new side gig to help grow their net worth, or adds comments to our posts – we all win.

Collaboration fosters win-win environments.

Shift #2 – My Perspective to Others’ Perspectives

Lincoln brought people onto his team who had opposing views. He chose the best people for the job, even though there would be conflict. This required Lincoln to listen carefully and consider other perspectives and not simply rely on his own ideas to make important decisions.

The idea of embracing conflicting views and reflecting on them is important to deepen our understanding. If we choose to surround ourselves with people whose beliefs and ideas totally align with ours, what are we missing out on? Are we reaching our full potential?

Maintaining our own perspectives and staying on “auto-pilot” is one way to reach our financial goals. A better way might be to find those who have chosen a different path and learn from them too.

It may even accelerate our paths to financial freedom!

Shift #3 – Academic Intelligence to Emotional Intelligence

Being able to do things like develop a budget, calculate your net worth, understand ROI or the power of compound interest is incredibly important in helping you reach financial independence. And these are all tied to our logical or academic intelligence.

But Kearns Goodwin describes Lincoln’s focus on consistently growing his emotional intelligence. He wanted to understand the motives of others and to experience the feelings of his rivals. Focusing on relationships was the incredibly important to Lincoln.

Relationships came first and success followed. And that makes a lot of sense.

So are personal finance bloggers rivals or friends? Or simply members of a really great team?

I’d like to think of us as a great team of rivals and friends!

We may have different experiences and viewpoints on all kinds of topics – but everyone I have met in the PF community seems to have embraced these three shifts in thinking.

To be successful in life and with our finances, we collaborate and seek win-win, we listen to and learn from one another, and we focus on relationships first! If you’re looking to be on a great team – keep reading and feel free to join in the conversation – or join the team and start a blog. It could be the smartest decision you’ve ever made!

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