Elite Balancing Act

It’s a Wall Street myth that the more hours you work the better your results. Elite teams and top solo practitioners have never bought into this garbage, which is why they work smart, and when they’re working they work extremely hard. Working ‘smart’ includes taking time to re-charge your batteries. After all, even the most efficient of individuals only has so much fuel in the tank. When the tank runs dry, performance suffers.

Philadelphia: “We’re all putting in more hours, but it seems like we’re spinning our wheels. We never get everything accomplished,” said John. Then he added, “What’s your thinking about hiring another support person?”

I’m not sure where you stand with regards to your support needs, but I do know that our research would suggest that a lack of support is not the root of John’s challenges. Rarely is a lack of support the major obstacle keeping an advisor from joining the coveted ranks of elite new world advisors. The real issue is getting the right people to do the right tasks for the right reasons, with the right level of energy – and that includes the advisor him or herself.

After asking a few questions, it was obvious that this issue of full engagement was John’s real challenge. He had a junior partner and two support personnel, and no one was close to functioning efficiently. His previous intern had quit after three weeks, citing interference with school work. Obviously, John wasn’t leading his team very well, but I knew little about the quality of his personnel. So I veered away from practice management recommendations per se and towards another one of the seven traits held by the elite new world advisor: balance.

Before going any further, let me set the record straight--it’s a Wall Street myth that the more hours you work the better your results. Elite teams and top solo practitioners have never bought into this garbage, which is why they work smart, and when they’re working they work extremely hard. Working ‘smart’ includes taking time to re-charge your batteries. After all, even the most efficient of individuals only has so much fuel in the tank. When the tank runs dry, performance suffers.

Recently, there have been a number of studies conducted on this issue. One was a study reported in the New York Times by Anahad O’Connor that determined that lack of sleep and immunity are tightly linked. Apparently, if we’re not getting enough sleep we become more susceptible to getting sick. Just like mother always said, right? A couple of days later (September 24, 2009) in the Wall Street Journal, Sue Schellenberger wrote a column called, “If You Need to Work Better, Try Working Less,” where she cited two studies validating the connection between balance and improved job performance. The conclusion is clear: periodically taking time off (to recharge the batteries) improves productivity.

Now, back to John. His life was lacking in balance, which set the tone for everyone on his team. After all he was the team leader. None of them had a consistent routine of physical exercise; only one person ate breakfast; and it was normal for everyone (except the intern) to work past 6:30 pm. John was often seen in the office on Saturday mornings. And because of the financial crisis, no one had taken any time off since the first of the year. As for sleep, John wasn’t certain about the others, but he was averaging between five and six hours a night.

Let’s take a few moments for everyone to calculate how well they score in terms of balance:

Sleep: Are you getting at least 7 hours a night?
Food: Are you eating 3 healthy meals a day (including breakfast)?
Exercise: Are you getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week?
Work hours: Do you spend time with your family? Are you getting home after work with energy for the family?
Vacation time: Do you schedule time off to recharge your batteries? i.e. vacations and long weekends?

Obviously the aforementioned is an incomplete checklist, so you can continue on with our Balance Lifestyle Assessment. This is a quick and easy assessment, but understand that our elite new world advisors make balance a priority. Elite advisors don’t lose focus on their goals when they take time off to recharge their batteries. To the contrary, it strengthens their achievement drive. If the best can make time to enjoy their family, friends, and have fun – so can you.

Success is a whole package, and having balance in the picture contributes to a higher and more consistent level of achievement. Alas, John didn’t know where to start, but at least he recognized the problem that was causing his team’s inefficiencies.

Once again, we want to thank all of you who have emailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one.

If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected]

TAGS: Research
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