To my dearest Parkour homies,
We’ve been set up to fail.
From a financial standpoint, our society is really not rigged in our favor right now. Talking frankly about money and how much of it we have is a taboo subject that people primarily broach in hushed voices. Many of us are taught practically nothing about how to manage our personal finances. Yet “keeping up with the Jones’” is our nation’s preferred pastime. Many of us are required to take on massive student loan debt to get through college even though degrees aren’t even necessary for many of the jobs that require them. What’s worse, the degrees don’t necessarily guarantee good return on the money and time invested into getting them. And lastly, automation-driven job destruction feels like it’s breathing down our collective necks.
Now we’re faced with a choice.
We can be upset about the fact that we were set up for a life encumbered by crushing debt and do nothing (because none of this is our fault). Or we can be justly upset about our circumstances but accept responsibility for them, even though they aren’t our fault. From there we can begin to design our lives so we can train hard while creating a culture that’ll help Parkour and the future generations of Parkour people thrive.
I’m personally drawn to the second option because it keeps the existential dread at bay whereas feeling like I have no ability to decide how my life turns out doesn’t. It’s up to us to blaze the proverbial financial trail so that future generations can catch up to us and, eventually, surpass us. This is the trend we’ve set with the general skill level in Parkour from one generation to the next so I don’t see why personal finances would be any different. Luckily for us, there are several common money mindsets that are fairly common in the Parkour community that improve our chances of financial success.
- Money buys things, not happiness.
In the Parkour community, money isn’t the primary benchmark of success like it is in mainstream American society. We reserve that pedestal for achieving a high skill level in Parkour. This is partly because breaking a jump that long eluded you is a much more visceral experience than cashing your umpteenth paycheck from your day job. As such we don’t usually see Parkour people doing backflips out of joy because they bought a new pair of shoes. Our obsession with Parkour skill definitely has its drawbacks, especially when it comes to inclusivity. However, the upside is that it somewhat protects us from falling into the traps of materialism and hyper-consumerism.
- Money is a tool that can be used to *help* us level up.
Everyone knows it’s not possible to purchase your way into breaking a jump. At some point you have to stare down the challenge, feel the fear it provokes in you, go back to training until your prepared for the challenge, then actually push through that fear. At the same time, everyone also knows that money can assist your progression in Parkour. Having money to spend is what allows us to go to pay for open gym sessions, to hire a private coach who can critique our technique and/or training approach, and to purchase tickets to previously unknown lands where the jumps and lines are totally different than anything we’ve experienced in our hometown.
- Willingness to bear discomfort to minimize expenses
Parkour people are so willing to bear discomfort in the name of training that Isaac Newton wrote a scientific law about it- “For every decent meal purchased during a Parkour trip, an equal number of nights that must be slept on a rooftop.” I bet you didn’t hear about that in your physics class.
All jokes aside, Parkour people are willing to go to extreme lengths if it means we can have more time to train. This ranges from sewing your shoes back together with dental floss because buying a new pair costs too much to living on a friend’s balcony to drastically reduce your rent. Regardless of where you fall on that continuum, many people around you have probably thought that you’re crazy for being so frugal.
- Entrepreneurial bent
We are also an entrepreneurial bunch! Whether people are participating in the attention economy via Instagram or trying to sell apparel for their Parkour team, our community is no stranger to hustling for fame or profit. The intensity of the hustle increases the more someone believes that they’ll be able to earn a living through Parkour. Whether our community’s entrepreneurs will be able to achieve their goals is yet to be seen but they’ll most likely build useful skills that they can leverage in future ventures or jobs.
It ain’t hard to tell that we’re pretty good at protecting our hard-earned money and stretching each buck as far as it’ll go. The importance of this really can’t be overstated in the game of money. This skill alone has enabled many of us to survive on relatively little money and travel to far-flung corners of the world. We do all of this in the pursuit of training hard to push our mental and physical limits and making new friends in our worldwide community. If we can maintain these habits as we move forward in our lives and careers then we’ll have a lot more freedom to train, travel, and live as we please rather than endlessly scaping by and living under the burden of debt.
In the next article I’ll cover some of the common weaknesses in our money mindset that I’ve seen in the Parkour community.