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Is Your Inner Circle Holding You Back?

How to fight the naysayers and surround yourself with people who build you up.

Recently I stumbled into an anonymous quote that at first glance appears to be a riddle, but after a few moments of reflection its depth and relevance becomes readily apparent.  

I’m sure many of you got the message immediately, while others might have had to ponder on it for a moment or two. Regardless, the message is clear: not everyone in your inner circle is pulling for your success. In particular, this involves family members and close friends.

As odd as this might seem, it really shouldn’t be a surprise to any goal-focused financial advisor. The psychology is simple; people who are ambitious and put forth that extra effort necessary to achieve their goals tend to make those people who are NOT ambitious, uncomfortable. 

This can manifest itself in many ways. Let’s take a look at this in terms of fitness. It can be as simple as an out-of-shape friend implying that you are exercising too much. You will never hear such dribble from a friend who, like you, makes the effort to stay in shape—these people are supportive. Why? Because your exercise routine doesn’t make them uncomfortable, if anything, these people might inquire about the specifics of your workout in an attempt to improve their exercise routine. 

People tend to overlook the subtle, or even not so subtle, digs when it comes to fitness. Who cares what my lazy, overweight fantasy football buddy thinks about my exercise routine? However, much more damage occurs when this discourse is directed towards professional accomplishments. Often these comments are framed as though they’re in your best interest:

  • Why are you working so hard?
  • Life’s too short; you need to take time to smell the roses.
  • Be careful—make sure all that traveling doesn’t wear you down.
  • How much money do you need to make you happy?  

You get the idea. Remarks of this nature can take many forms when they’re framed in your best interest. Ah-ha. As an ambitious high-achiever, your mission is to recognize this subtle form of sabotage, and let it activate your “BS” antenna. Your success, current and/or future, has made the person making this seemingly friendly commentary, but really disapproving, uncomfortable. 

Once you become aware of this issue, you’ll find yourself picking up on even the more subtle forms of sabotage. It could be a spouse's “eye-roll” when hearing about the goals you’ve set. It could take the form of guilt from your mother-in-law for missing your daughter’s soccer game. Regardless of form, this is inner-circle sabotage. 

So what’s an ambitious, hard-working financial advisor to do?

Step 1: Identify the Saboteurs

Granted, this might not be as easy as it sounds, especially when much of this is delivered under the veil of “your best interests.”  It’s also common to have someone who’s really close to you as your chief culprit. There have been many occasions where a spouse is complaining about the hours spent at work, dinner meetings, etc. Because this is so personal, there’s a tendency to overlook it. If you want to reach your true potential, don’t.  

This doesn’t mean you need to get divorced or avoid your best friend. Recognition simply sets the stage for the second step.

Step 2: Activate Your Shut-off Valve

Recognition is 50 percent of recovery and that holds true with your inner circle. Once you’ve identified the guilty parties, you can develop a plan of action. If it’s a spouse, you’ll want to share the vision of the lifestyle you plan on creating for the family and how it relates to your goals. These conversations have got many a spouse onboard. For the spouse that’s not treat them like an inner-circle family member or friend. You know where they’re coming from, can identify the sabotage, and when it comes, you simply hit the shut-off valve in your mind. You don’t engage; it’s simply white noise. Your achievement drive is making them uncomfortable, and a smile and a quick redirect of the conversation will do the trick.

Also, other than a spouse, if possible, make your interactions less frequent.

Step 3: Identify High-Achievers & Supporters

There will be people in your inner circle who may not be as ambitious, but very supportive of your success. My father was like this for me. He was always interested in the book I was writing, the research I was conducting, or my upcoming business travels. His interest was a tonic that helped me keep working towards my goals.

You will also want to identify like-minded high achievers, whether it’s another advisor in your office or another professional in town. High-achievers relate to high-achievers. They fuel each other—this is what you want. Not only will these people be supportive of your goals, they’ll be good sounding boards for the obstacles along the way. This peer support is priceless. 

If you have one person who fits this profile, schedule a monthly lunch or dinner to discuss your progress and challenges. If you’ve identified two or more, you can form an Achiever Group. The idea is to expand your inner-circle with more like-minded people.

You’re not changing the people in your inner circle, but you’re changing the people in your inner circle. Nobody’s holding you back.   

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

TAGS: Marketing
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