Staying within your comfort zone is all well and good but it is one of the enemies of progress, suggests Brett Davidson of FP Advance as he argues that to be the best you can be means reading, exploring and learning new tricks.
There is one thing I’ve noticed about the best financial planners; it is that they’re still learning. In fact, this is something which is true of the ‘best’ in any field of endeavour.
I’m a big boxing fan. Recently I watched a fight between two of the most highly regarded boxers on the planet, the USA’s Andre Ward and Russia’s Sergey Kovalev. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them, they’re not quite crossover stars in the mainstream media. However, they are both very skilled.
As is so often the case in boxing, the final result was a bit controversial and Kovalev, who held the World titles, lost. Cue huge outcry from the boxing media and a portion of fans. Sergey himself was also none too happy as you can imagine.
Sergey Kovalev’s friend, a former world champion and fellow Russian, Kostya Tszyu had this to say:
“He needs to discover what went wrong in himself, and not look for errors in the judges’ scores.”
That’s a bit harsh don’t you think? With friends like Kostya, who needs enemies.
However, Kostya himself was a great champion and to me this is clearly the champion’s mindset in action; “What could I do better?”.
If you’re a football fan, or a rugby fan, or a fan of the arts, you’ll know who the ‘best’ people are. It’s worth paying attention to that winning mindset. They’ve all got it.
Please don’t write them off as super talents who got there by winning the genetic lottery. Anyone who succeeds at the highest level has been dedicating themselves to their craft for a very long time. In the case of Ward and Kovalev, since they were about eight years old. They’re both now in their thirties.
So what are the lessons for advisers and business owners who want to be great at what they do?
What can you still learn? Clearly the answer to this question depends on your stage of development within the profession. If you’re pretty new to it, then getting a few more technical exams and qualifications under your belt might be it.
However, if you’ve been around a while (and many of you reading this have been), how do you identify areas that could be developed and improved?
Here are a few ideas:
- Deliberately challenge your own thinking
There are some steps you can take to proactively stretch your thinking and help you dream bigger:
- Adopt a ‘plus, minus, equals’ mentoring strategy – a mentor who knows much more than you, a peer who is on a similar level to yourself, and someone you yourself mentor
- Attend US conferences – all the best thinking in financial planning is happening in the US
- Read widely – both inside and outside of our profession
- Get a life coach
Your business growth will never outstrip your personal growth. Therefore, it is impossible to get where you want to go without working on yourself.
Yes, it’s uncomfortable. However, it is also hugely rewarding. The good news is you will reap rewards across all areas of your life; in your relationships, in your business, with your children, and in your community.
The best way to do this proactively, and with accountability, is to get a reputable life coach. Doing so accelerates the learning curve and creates the mindset and behavioural change.
In every business I’ve ever worked with the handbrake on success is the owner.
Be the driver of your own personal development. Don’t skimp in this area.
- Stay curious
As one gets older it’s easy to lose that sense of curiosity you had earlier in your life. You start to rest on your laurels. This is the death knell for performance, and can also be a key contributor to feeling less enthused about your life and your business.
The brightest people on the planet are still researching and asking questions. The more they know, the more they realise that there is to know. Pretending we are certain is a defence mechanism to overcome our fear of the unknown. Because if we don’t actually know the answers and can’t control everything – then what? It’s scary.
There are two simple strategies to combat any drop-off in curiosity and learning capacity:
- Go and learn something new that is out of your comfort zone and your traditional sphere of knowledge. This could be as simple as reading a book on a topic you know nothing about, or network with people where you are the least knowledgeable person.
- Hire young people in your business – graduates and apprentices. Their new eyes on your old problems will get you re-enthused as you create new solutions together.
As an example here, in October and November of 2015 I went to Switzerland to do a ski instructor course. I went for fun because I thought it might improve my skiing (which it did). I’ll fess up and say I didn’t go there deliberately to kick start my personal learning, but that’s exactly what it did.
Why? Because it meant that I was waaay out of my comfort zone. I was forty eight years old and surrounded by a bunch of ‘twenty-somethings’ who’d been skiing since they were four years old. I was one of the worst skiers in the group, and had to work really hard every single day.
However, when I returned to normal life I had an amazing experience. My passion for growth and learning had been rekindled. To be honest, for a few years prior to doing that course I’d felt a bit flat. To the outside world everything was ticking over nicely, but I knew deep down inside that I was a bit stuck and couldn’t quite put my finger on why.
Learning something new, outside of my comfort zone re-ignited the spark. Over the next summer I devoured a load of new books that also provided more learning and fodder for new business ideas.
I hope this article gets you thinking. Ask yourself the question: “What can I still learn that might just make me great?” Get reading, exploring and learning and you just might find out.
If you’re looking for a great book to challenge your thinking and get your passion for learning re-ignited then read The Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday.
I loved it and there is some very practical and inspiring advice contained within its pages.
About Brett Davidson
Brett is the Founder of FP Advance, the boutique consulting firm that helps financial planning professionals to advise better and live better.
He is recognised as one of the leading consultants to financial advisers in the UK. You can follow Brett online and via social media: