by Daniel C. Finley
The holiday season is upon us. The end of the year is fast approaching. You may be wondering what 2013 will have in store for you and your business. Take a moment and ask yourself: Did your business experience more successes or more failures in the past year?
Success and failure are choices-albeit conscious or unconscious ones-but choices nonetheless. The ironic thing about success and failure is that you are constantly stepping toward one or the other as change is constant. Being aware of which direction you step means you must choose each step wisely. Choosing to step forward toward pursuing your goals could bring with it the fear of the unknown. Choosing to step backward toward complacency could bring the comfort of familiarity. So, is it better to boldly succeed or is it better to safely fail?
If you choose the latter, understand that safely failing is not a "safe" option at all. Risking your business by not leaving your comfort zone often is more detrimental than taking the risk of trying something new or different.
These strategies can help you find the opportunities within the obstacles and provide you with a framework to reach a whole new level of success in the new year.
Move Beyond the Blame Game
The media has been quick to place blame for our poor economy and market volatility. Many advisers have a tendency to do the same when explaining the state of their businesses-statements such as, "If the market would cooperate, I would be doing better" or "Clients don't see the urgency in getting together while the market is so volatile." Such statements are examples of making excuses and not taking responsibility for one's own disappointments or failures.
Successful advisers know that true growth is really up to oneself, regardless of what is going on around you. You must be willing to learn to adjust and adapt to changing conditions. You must decide which actions will actually help you have better outcomes. Implementing those activities and continually assessing your results will keep you accountable to yourself.
Expect the Unexpected
Success is rarely an accident; however, failure often can be. Not properly preparing for appointments and objections, and not asking for the sale are just a few examples of how sometimes the unexpected can result in missed opportunities. That is why it is important to routinely expect the unexpected.
Now, being prepared doesn't mean you view everything with a potentially negative eye, but it does mean being realistic and knowing that anything can happen and adjusting your perception to fit the situation.
Your computer could crash just before a big meeting, or your client or prospect might have a concern that you had not anticipated. Always have a plan B. Expect the unexpected and you can have peace of mind that you prepared as best you could.
The Reality of Business Risk
Years ago a rookie financial adviser asked a veteran colleague and friend, "What is the wealthiest street in Milwaukee?" Originally not from Milwaukee, the rookie had no idea.
"Well, that's easy," said his peer matter-of-factly. "It is Lake Shore Drive because that is where all of the money and mansions are; however, I would not prospect them. They all already have advisers."
Many weeks later, the veteran stopped the rookie as he rushed out the door. "Where are you going in such a hurry?" the veteran asked.
The rookie was on his way to meet a new client who lived on Lake Shore Drive.
The point is that the reality of business risk is about how our perceptions dictate what we believe is possible. The lesson learned should be: don't limit yourself.
The Reality of Resilience
Our society seems to value the underdogs who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, dust themselves off and forge ahead taking notes and learning from past mistakes. Such people understand what I refer to as "the reality of resilience"-choosing what you focus on and how it shapes your reality, affects your attitude, dictates your actions and determines your results.
The reality of being resilient is a conscious choice. You have control over your focus, and that has a domino effect that can alter your outcome. So the next time you experience a setback, remember that you can lie down in defeat or learn from your failures and use them as stepping stones toward success.
Bring Out Your Own Brilliance
"I don't know why I keep having a good month followed by a bad month," said a financial adviser about his past few month's activities. I assured him that he was not alone. Many financial advisers seem to unconsciously self-sabotage; some find that once they have hit their monthly goals, they slow down their activities only to have to start up again at the beginning of the next month.
I believe the reason why so many advisers run their businesses this way is simply because they have a fear of success. If they continue to succeed, it may seem like too much work to keep up that pace. Unfortunately, you help nobody when you choose to hold yourself back. If you can relate to this, then it is time to bring out your own brilliance by adopting a new mantra, "What can I accomplish if I could not fail?"
Failing or not failing is merely a matter of perspective, and the reality is that by eliminating the fear of success and failure you can enjoy the journey. That will allow you to live up to your true potential.
Get Out There and Do It!
Years ago, a financial adviser called concerned about his business saying, "I read all the books I can, but then nothing happens." When I asked why he thought this occurred, he quickly admitted it was because he did not have a plan to apply anything he had read about.
First, understand any new process thoroughly so you know exactly what you need to do to implement it. Second, give yourself a time horizon so you have a deadline to begin and an approximate due date to finish. Third, put your plan into action. Fourth, evaluate your process so you can learn from your successes and failures. Follow these general guidelines and soon you will be writing your own book on success.
Become Your Own One-minute Business Coach
Take one minute to make the best investment you can; an investment in yourself. The one-minute business coach is a process to evaluate your daily successes and failures so you can better manage behavior patterns.
When experiencing a "win," take one minute to write down why you were successful, what created the success and how you will repeat the behavior. When experiencing a "loss," take one minute to write down why you were unsuccessful, what created the result and what you will do differently next time to break the behavior pattern. Do this and you'll see failures become successes.
The Key to Redefining Failure and Success
Financial advisers will always be faced with failures while growing, monitoring and running their businesses. However, successful advisers view adversities as chances to learn from their mistakes. The key to redefining failures and turning them into future successes is your ability to take lessons learned and apply that knowledge in pursuit of your dreams.
When you can redefine the word "success" to mean learning from setbacks, you learn something about yourself, bringing you closer to your desired goals and becoming smarter and wiser with each obstacle you overcome.
Daniel C. Finley is a former adviser and current president of Advisor Solutions Inc., a business development consulting and coaching service. Read about other success stories in his book 101 Advisor Solutions: A Financial Advisor's Guide to Strategies that Educate, Motivate and Inspire. Contact him at email@example.com.
To access the tool and white paper, The One Minute Business Coach, email Dan Finely at firstname.lastname@example.org.