The Only Debt Worth Owing

The Only Debt Worth Owing

Leaders don't just lead some of the time, or just when they feel like it.

Leaders don't just lead between the hours of 8 and 5, or only during the week.

Leaders lead all the time. Empoweringthe80Percent isn't just about getting ahead or leading in business or in your professional life. It's about leading. Pure and simple, wholly and totally.

Leaders lead because it's in our DNA.

Image: renjith krishnan /

There are a few attributes that make up a leader and are universal. Those listed below (in no particular order), are universal characteristics of leadership. See if the leaders in your life have them.

Leaders embody:

  • Responsibility
  • Dedication
  • Passion
  • Direction

While the full list of leadership qualities would take up an entire book, I think these few are at the core of a person who leads others, or who is worthy of being followed. My intent here is not to make a message about the attributes of a leader, but to share about one of these qualities that is especially close to my heart. Responsibility.

Specifically, financial responsibility.

Countries spend more money than they bring in, and families buy more than they can afford. This is not responsible.

As leaders, we need to lead our businesses and our families in ways that are financially responsible.

A few years ago, my wife and I attended a series of meetings at our church about how to get our financial lives on track, get out of debt, and be prepared for the future. Essentially, it was a class on fiscal responsibility.

Since then, we have been paying down debts at a very aggressive rate, and each bill paid off is a weight off our shoulders and an opportunity to use our money more wisely. As we take more responsibility over our personal finances, we're able to plan expenditures ahead of time and set aside investments for the future.

With the burden of financial debt gradually moving off of our backs, we're able to slow down and enjoy life more. When you enjoy life and live with less stress, a brighter part of your personality can shine through, and you can really begin to work on developing and nourishing your personal brand.

This gets me to the point and theme of this article; the only debt worth owing. Simply put, there are two types of debt: the kind that holds you back (pretty much every debt with a dollar sign), and the kind that helps you move forward (the kind you're reading about).

What kind of debt moves you forward, you ask? The debt of gratitude.

Here's why: debts of gratitude cannot get you evicted out of your house, cannot repossess your car and cannot send you into bankruptcy.

Debts of gratitude are probably the only kind of debt that can be owed but can't be collect upon.

I've had debt, and I was in debt when I was laid off from a job in 2009. The amount of stress you're put under when those two types of situations collide is tremendous and devastating. When a person is in that type of circumstance, they usually focus on the short-term. They typically don't see much beyond their current circumstances, and they often think un-wisely.

Aside from personal and/or religious reasons for not wanting to be in debt at home, debt is bad for business.

Who would invest in a company that is not profitable? Not me. If the amount of money going out is more than the amount of money coming in, you're not profitable.

You don't retire on your debt; you retire on your profits. (Tweet that!)

So how do we focus on debts of gratitude and how do they make us successful?

The first step, the architectural keystone to your success, is relationship building.

Without relationships, there is no one around to celebrate your successes, no one to keep you grounded, and no one around to keep you moving forward.

Debts of gratitude can only arise from a successful partnership between two or more people.

Examples of a successful partnership could be as small as a raise, as significant as a new position within your company, or even as beneficial as a strategic new contact. However, you would not owe someone a debt of gratitude if they'd treated your poorly or put you in a bad situation.

A debt of gratitude is owed when two parties help each other. If this sounds a little like, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” you're correct.

This is NOT, “scratch my back, I'll scratch yours”; this is not the type of gratitude you often hear about and see in politics.

The debt of gratitude that I'm talking about is the feeling of gratitude you get after someone does something great for you. It's the result of being on the receiving end of genuine aid offered or extended to a friend without the expectation of reciprocation.

Remember: Debts of gratitude will have future returns and move you forward, but a debt of money will drive you further into bad debt and keep you from meeting your goals. (Tweet that!)

Question: What do you think about the debt of gratitude? Who has helped you get where you are today? Please post your comments below!


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