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Paralyzed by Fear

Eight ways an advisor can regain courage and move forward with his or her business life.

In the moments when we need to make a critical decision that could alter everything, the “what if” scenarios rise to the surface, only to stop us dead in our tracks. Then one of two things happens: You make a decision and move boldly on with your life, or fear takes hold.

For me, it’s a feeling I first recall when I was 6 years old, and my father insisted I was ready to ride my bicycle without training wheels. I was absolutely terrified, and I thought, “what if I fall and get hurt? What if I wreck my bike?”

Many advisors express this same feeling when they want to make a change, but they’re 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?” 

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 better outcomes come to mind.

So how does one channel the positive energy that drives courage? It all starts with addressing the unknowns. Consider these eight important items in your business life:

  1. Desire: Assess just how badly you want to make a change.
  2. Relationships: Look honestly at your business with rigorous self-awareness, focusing on the depth of your client relationships.
  3. Potential: Evaluate your pipeline and your likely growth trajectory.
  4. Impact: Consider how making the change might affect your life and the lives of your clients.
  5. Support: Surround yourself with those who can make the transition smooth and seamless.
  6. Adaptability: Be clear about your capacity for resilience and ability to adjust to change.
  7. Vision: Design a well-thought-out plan for how to get from here to there.
  8. 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 the depth of their client relationships, 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 and focus 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 less limitations?  

The reality is that no matter how much self-exploration and due diligence you perform, there are always a few unknowns. Staying put out of fear is not a fulfilling option.

Take the time to develop a true understanding of your goals, be clear on the pros and cons of a move and watch the outcome of others who’ve gone before you. Then use that knowledge to help build your confidence, allow trust and courage to drive, and hold on tight for the ride of your life.

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