Last month on a podcast with Michael Kitces, partner and director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group, we talked about the stress, struggles and strife that so often accompany building and running a practice. Or what I call the "stress of success."
Firm owners start off full of exuberance, enthusiasm and energy, directed with purpose and driven by passion. Over time, this generates success. Then the owner reaches a turning point where the demands of success overwhelm the entrepreneurial zeal that created it. It no longer feels as good as you know it should.
For some, the demands of working "on" the business dilute the joy of working "in" the business: working on investments, financial planning or client relationships. For others, the routine of meeting with clients year after year becomes mundane — lacking challenge and leaving them bored and feeling guilty. You may be really successful, but the demands of a successful firm leave you too squeezed for time to enjoy the success you've created.
Why did you start your practice? Every time I ask this question, the answers are strikingly similar: "I want to work my way, with the clients I want to work with, and I want to enjoy the financial rewards and freedom that come with success."
The key word here is "freedom." When starting a firm, most advisers really want the freedom to forge their own path, make their own decisions, work the way they want, invest in their financial success and live the life of their dreams. They want to cast off their limitations and unleash their potential. They are looking for what I call "The 5 Freedoms of Limitless Advisers":
• Freedom #1: Work with purpose, on your terms
• Freedom #2: Focus your time and energy on work you love
• Freedom #3: Work with people you truly enjoy
• Freedom #4: Enjoy all the financial success you desire
• Freedom #5: Experience a life of happiness, contribution and fulfillment
Alas, few advisers fully realize these freedoms. Often, an adviser will be successful in one or two areas, and struggle in others.
Each of us has the potential to achieve and experience anything we can imagine for our firms, and our lives in and outside of them. This then begs the question: "Why do we settle for anything less?"
We settle for a long list of reasons, chief among them comfort. That seems contrarian, but looking over 20 years of work with successful advisers and my own journey, I've noticed that comfort is the enemy of creation. Advisers enjoy their success while at the same time feeling their challenges and frustrations seethe beneath the surface, stripping away their satisfaction.
Albert Einstein observed, "No problem can be solved with the same consciousness that created it." What he's really saying is if you want a different outcome, you need a new way of thinking.
WHAT'S YOUR MINDSET?
The single greatest factor determining your success and satisfaction is your mindset. The latest neuroscience research shows that 80% of success is mindset, and only 20% is methods. Yet, as a profession, we spend nearly all our time focused on the methods.
The path to the 5 Freedoms begins with mindset. When you make up your mind to expect more from your business and life, you can expand and accelerate your firm to an entirely new, more meaningful definition of success.
I have a coaching client who "has it all," a multimillion dollar practice, financial success and security, good clients, and a family he loves. The trouble is, he's not at all satisfied or fulfilled by his work. He avoids his office, is critical of his team's workstyle and pace, is challenged to plan for his younger advisers' career growth, and has worked 12-hour days his entire career. He's been quite successful by standard definitions, but has not been living anything close to the 5 Freedoms.
What surprised him most was that none of these challenges were business problems. Rather, they were mindset challenges, unknowingly self-imposed by years of habitual thinking and behavior.
Our work first focused on his vision for his business. We identified the mindset hurdles holding him back, and started the process of decoupling those limitations from his beliefs, behavior and — of utmost importance — his business practices.
The net result is a major change in his feeling about work and his behavior. His team is happier and more focused. We designed a new adviser compensation plan much to his team's satisfaction, and new projects have been undertaken to continue the progress. He's feeling more inspired and expanded than he has in years, and is on his journey to becoming a limitless adviser.
This path is available to anyone who is willing to expand their view of what their business can be and bring to their life.
Stephanie Bogan is the CEO of Educe Inc. and has spent 20 years helping advisers unleash their potential to build successful firms and lives they love. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.