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Success is No Accident

Think of one of your most memorable achievements.  Maybe it was earning your MBA, or reaching that coveted $100 million asset level, or spearheading a fund raiser for a scholarship fund for the underprivileged.  Regardless of the achievement, it didn’t happen by accident. You didn’t wing-it, half-ass it, or expect someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. No way.

You were on a mission. You were ambitious. You were focused. You had purpose. Whether you realized it or not, you activated 3 Qualities – the Requirement for True Success.  

1. Purpose:

Being busy does not always mean real work.  The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing. - Thomas Edison

So, the question becomes -- What is your purpose?  To make a lot of money, drive luxury automobiles, live in an upscale neighborhood, send your children to the best schools, and all the other trappings typically associated with success?  Or is it deeper? 

Not that there’s anything wrong with these trappings of success as they’re simply byproducts of your hard work, but long-term success, true success, is accompanied by a fulfillment that stems from having honest purpose. You love your career.  You’re passionate about the difference you make in people’s lives.  This might sound sappy, but anyone with honest purpose will always, over time, outperform someone without. 

You don’t have to be a social worker (my mother’s profession) to have honest purpose. We know when a person lacks purpose; whether it’s a doctor rushing your appointment, a builder cutting corners, or an advisor making end-of-month transactions – over time these people always expose themselves. 

It must be coincidental, but I know a number of successful advisors who have a similar career purpose; to prevent money issues from ruining wealthy families. To this end, these advisors are students of the affluent and their challenges; running the gamut of estate and next-gen issues,   family financial summits, wills, trusts -- the list goes on.  Their purpose: help clients in all aspects of family financial matters.

This is not charity work. They, like you, are in the money business. This is why most likely you, like them, want to work with people with money.  Therefore if you’re really serious about acquiring and developing loyal affluent clients, it’s important that you take the time to develop, in Thomas Edison’s words, an honest purpose.

Ambition always accompanies an honest purpose. The trappings of success can come and go, but your legacy - your reputation - that positive word-of-mouth influence, will result from your honest purpose.  Speaking now as a parent, one of the most comforting feelings, far more important than college and career choices, is for our children to develop an honest purpose.   

2. Persistence

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men (women) with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination are omnipotent. - Calvin Coolidge 

My apologies as undoubtedly you’ve seen this quote multiple times, but it’s one of my favorites and is personal to me. Edison talks about perspiration while Coolidge is telling us to hang in there, overcome the seemingly never-ending obstacles, never lose sight of our ambitions, all while staying true to our purpose.  

Obstacles range from the psychological (I’m not good enough), to financial (I don’t have the resources), to family (no time / wrong side of tracks) – the list goes on.  Yet, no serious accomplishment is ever achieved without persistence. 

As basketball great and former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley once said, “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”  Well said Dollar Bill.

3. Patience

How many a man (woman) has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success? - Elbert Hubbard

You’ve heard it, patience is a virtue. And when it’s connected to a purpose, this virtue becomes a key quality of one’s true success. 

Yet we’re now in a digital age, everything seems to occur in a nanosecond, and everyone acts like they have some form of attention deficit disorder. This is at the expense of developing patience.  Few affluent investors are going to entrust you with their wealth after an initial encounter, or two, or three… They need to know you, understand you, determine that they can trust you – and still most will proceed cautiously. It’s far different from yester-year when a broker could catch an affluent investor on the phone, make a good pitch, and sell shares of XYZ stock. 

Lack of patience and the corresponding need for immediate gratification have been around for the 36 years I’ve been in the industry, it’s just that the digital age has made this quality more challenging to acquire. At the same time, today’s affluent prospects make it an essential to possess.    

Patience is the fuel propelling that vehicle of persistence on your true success journey. The old saying Rome wasn’t built in a day personifies one of life’s truisms – patience that fuels persistence brings to life your honest purpose.

We coach people to become “urgently patient.” An advisor who’s too anxious, pushing too hard for the sale – who is impatient – will push away someone who could have been a wonderful client. 

Yes, patience is a virtue, and when connected to purpose & persistence, it activates a magical formula inherent in all of us. Purpose, persistence, and patience are the qualities required for true success in life. They are also the qualities needed for any financial advisor who is serious about becoming the advisor of choice amongst today’s affluent.

Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.

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