When I was 6 years old, my father insisted I was ready to ride my bicycle without training wheels. I was comfortable riding around our neighborhood on my hot-pink bike outfitted with multicolored tassels hanging from the handle bars and the extra set of training wheels bolted on the back. Although I knew it was time to give up that added security, I was absolutely terrified.
“What if I fall and get hurt? What if I wreck my bike?”
It’s interesting how all of the “what-ifs” rise to the surface and stop us dead in our tracks.
I’m reminded of that day on my Schwinn (and so many other moments of consternation in my life) every time I speak with an advisor who desperately wants to make a change of some sort but is paralyzed by fear:
“What if I move and my clients don’t follow me? What if it’s no better than where I am now?”
We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. And those negative affirmations can be quite powerful—unless we choose not to let them prevail. It’s not until we force ourselves to summon up the courage that our minds open to the more likely positive outcomes.
So how does one channel the positive energy that helps to drive courage? It all starts with addressing the unknowns. Consider these eight important areas of your business life:
- Desire: Assess just how badly you want to make a change.
- Relationships: Look at your business with real self-awareness and rigorous honesty, focusing mostly on the depth of your client relationships.
- Potential: Evaluate your pipeline and likely growth trajectory.
- Impact: Consider how making the change might affect your life and the lives of your clients.
- Support: Surround yourself with those who can make the transition smooth and seamless.
- Adaptability: Be clear about your capacity for resilience and ability to adjust to change.
- Vision: Design a well-thought-out plan for how to get from here to there.
- Knowledge: Get a thorough education on the landscape.
There are countless stories about advisors who start their exploration process feeling terrified, unable to defy the voices of dissent ringing in their heads. Once they look carefully at these eight items, most realize that what they lack is not exactly courage. Instead they find they lack confidence and trust in their depth of relationships with clients, their pipeline, and their ability to adapt to new and unfamiliar environments.
With greater clarity about your business, goals and options, you develop a greater sense of confidence. Then it becomes far easier to form positive affirmations in your mind to drown out the negative “what-ifs.” So your mind focuses more on questions like:
“How much will I be able to grow my business if I’m able to service my clients better and with far fewer limitations?”
The reality is that no matter how much self-exploration and due diligence you perform, there are always a few unknowns. But staying put because you’re afraid of the “what-ifs” is typically not the most-fulfilling route.
Take the time to develop a true understanding of your goals, be clear on the pros and cons of a move, and watch the outcomes of others who’ve gone before you. Then use that knowledge to help build your confidence.
Mindy Diamond is President & CEO of Diamond Consultants in Morristown, N.J., a nationally recognized boutique search and consulting firm in the financial services industry.