In January 2019, I was having a hard time. My wife and I were struggling to bring new life into our family - a long-time dream of ours. We had experienced several setbacks, and felt like our goal of growing our family was a fading dream. We were feeling so much love between each other, but externally the universe seemed to be conspiring against us. My world was starting to feel a little dim, and my optimism meter was running low.
Besides our family struggles, I was experiencing growing discontent with my job. These feelings had nothing to do with my employer. I was with a great company and was being provided ample opportunities to learn and grow. Instead, it had to do with the fact that my role in the company was not meeting my internal values of independence and personal freedom.
I've noticed, when one's values are not aligned with external circumstances, the natural result is feelings of anxiety and a sense that life is drifting — this is where I found myself last January. I knew I needed a change.
In response to these circumstances, my wife and I decided to rededicate ourselves to the practice of mindfulness. I've been practicing Vipassanā meditation or the focusing of one's attention on one's breath, on and off again, for the better part of my adult life. Over the years, I've oscillated between periods of disciplined practice to not meditating at all. Last January, I was looking for an outlet for my negative feelings and was seeking to refocus my attention on mindfulness.
Fortunately, San Francisco, the city we call home, has ample opportunity to find like-minded people and organizations to practice meditation. My wife and I decided to attend a six-week evening meditation course being offered by a local American Buddhist group. It was during this period that I first heard the story that led to the naming of my firm.
I'm naturally attracted to the telling of stories. Stories are the medium through which we express the complexities of the human experience. Stories are the color and texture of life. So when I was looking for a name for my company, I knew I needed a story behind the name.
What's In a Name?
The name "Thirty Mile Financial" is a reference to a story in Buddhism about putting other people's interests before one's own. As a fee-only, non-commissioned based CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, I've staked my livelihood on putting my client's interests ahead of my own. I literally get paid for the advice I provide, not the products I sell. So when it came time to name my firm, I wanted a name that fit with this principle.
The story goes that the Buddha heard about a potential follower showing keen spiritual insight in a village thirty miles away. In response, the Buddha walked the entire distance to provide him teaching without stopping. Upon reaching the young man's home, the Buddha, exhausted, dirty, and tired insisted that the man, who had spent a long day out in the hot fields working, be fed, bathed, and rested before he, himself, received comfort.
The message of the story is that in business and life, one should strive to put other people's interests ahead of one's own. The Buddha could have easily placed his interests above that of the young man's, and he and the other villagers would have thought nothing less of him. After all, he was a renowned and respected holy man, known throughout India for his wisdom and insight into human nature. Instead, the Buddha took the opportunity to practice a deep empathy for the young man's circumstances.
To me, this story has a simple but powerful message. That message is to respect other people's needs and interests before your own. This message is a salient today as it was thousands of years ago. Particularly, in regards to the financial service industry, where it seems like there are a lot of opaque products and shady companies.
As a financial planner, I believe the skills of practicing empathy and the ability to see the world through other people's eyes are vital to providing comprehensive financial advice while also running a business with integrity. That is why I am drawn to this story, and it's why I named my company after it. In today's world, I think it's an essential message, and by choosing it, I am making a conscious effort to embed these values into the heart of my firm.
As you can see, this story resonated with me. I hope it will serve as a reminder to be empathetic and to be mindful of placing our personal interests above others.
If you have any questions about my firm or if this story connects with you, please don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to hear from you.