Do you ever wonder why some people appear to get all the breaks, while the silent majority plods along? Why some people are able to live their dreams, while others let their dreams get derailed and become cynical towards those who are successful?
Recently an advisor I'll call David shared a personal story with me. “I've always been smart but lazy, cramming for tests and skating through college with average grades,” he told me. “I wanted to be a financial advisor, and I got hired by a major firm on the condition that I get my Series 7. I didn't take the test seriously, failed, and got fired immediately.
“I was too embarrassed to tell my parents,” he continued. “Still living at home, I put on a suit every morning and got into my car as though driving to work. However, I drove to a parking lot and spent the day studying to retake the Series 7 exam. I did this for a month until I landed a low-level position at a small firm which enabled me to retake the test. I passed, promptly walked into the office of the manager who fired me, and re-applied for my position.
“Not only did he rehire me, he said I was the first person who'd ever reapplied after getting fired for failing the test. He then gave me a raise! I worked my butt off, made a career for myself, and to this day my parents don't know.”
Wow! What a story. Embarrassment and failure sparked a successful career. His story got me thinking. Many advisors have allowed this financial crisis to derail them from their dreams. Yet all advisors have their version of David's success story.
You can look into that proverbial crystal ball, rekindle your dreams, set audacious goals, re-establish that same level of commitment, and then do what you need to do, even when you'd rather be doing something else. And you can start today. Most people can't.
It's important to understand that “success patterns” are instinctive. Nobody needed to be taught how to dream, how to set goals, or how to make sacrifices in order to achieve goals. The difference between the elite who “get all the breaks” and everyone else is simple; they replicate their success patterns. One goal is achieved, another is established, and the beat goes on.
Every plateaued advisor interested in resetting his or her career is capable of doing so by revisiting the advisor's personal success pattern and replicating it in today's world. The following is a two-part exercise to get you started. We recommend that you commit all of this to writing.
- Recall a major success in your life, a big goal set and achieved.
- Re-examine the effort you put forth; outline what you did. (David studied in his car wearing a suit.)
- Outline the sacrifices you made while making the effort.
- Recall your state of mind: focused, determined, etc.
- Write out your current emotions as you recall your sacrifices and work effort: pride, awe, etc.
- Recall how you felt achieving your goal: proud, supercharged, etc.
- Describe what kept you from replicating your success pattern: took a break, got tired, forgot to re-visit your dream, etc.
- Re-establish a dream; look into your crystal ball and envision your business five years from now, as you ideally would like it to be.
- Establish a specific fourth-quarter 2011 goal and a 2012 goal, both linked to your dream.
- Outline the daily discipline you must exhibit: sourcing names from affluent centers of influence; orchestrating personal introductions; offering second opinions; attending social events with strategic intent; getting face-to-face with affluent prospects, and so on.
- List the sacrifices you'll make, personal and professional.
- Describe where you will have to expand your comfort zone.
- Detail how you'll be held accountable for staying on track: a fellow advisor, spouse, coach, etc.
- Describe how you will feel as you begin to achieve your dreams: self-actualized, confident, proud, free, etc.
None of this is complex. All that's required is a willingness to transform these instinctive success patterns into a personal habit. Beware; the world is full of excuses — but I've yet to encounter an elite advisor who regrets replicating his success patterns.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com.