The Most Important Thing about Your Business: What You Believe

Nate Biddick, CFP®, AVP, Practice Consulting
March 29, 2019

What is the difference between those who are successful in business and those who are not?

What they believe.

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, “Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.” The world – and you – are far more capable that what you can see in front of you.

During a recent peer-networking and advisor education meeting for 1st Global advisors and CPA leaders, I walked them through the following exercise to address and challenge the limits of what they believe about their own success:

  1. Write down four outcomes you want to accomplish in the next 12 months.
  2. Now write down what four things would you do in the next 12 months—if you knew you would not fail. Push yourself to bigger, bolder outcomes.
  3. List all the reasons you can’t do it. If you can’t think of any, pretend someone who is not your friend is standing over your shoulder giving you all the reasons you’ll fail.
  4. Ask yourself if there are any consequences if you don’t do it, beginning with negative consequences.
  5. Next write down the positive consequences and outcomes for accomplishing your goals.
  6. On a fresh page, for each of your outcome goals:
    1. Write what you need to believe about yourself to make your goals from step 2 possible. For example, “In order to bring on a second advisor, I need to believe in my leadership and management skills.”
    2. Look at the statement you just wrote. Self-check: Do you believe it? Using the example above, do you believe in your leadership and management skills?
      1. If you do believe you can do it, are there any facts or examples in your past that show you why it’s possible?
      2. If you do not believe you can do it, are there any facts or examples in your past that show you why it’s possible?
  7. Keep this handy and check in on yourself periodically as you work toward achieving the outcome.

In one case, an advisor didn’t think she could grow her firm to the stretch goals she had set. When asked why, she said, “Because I’ve never done it before.” This was an advisor that had started as a financial advisor’s assistant ten years ago, became lead advisor in her firm and now was the firm’s owner. When gently asked if she’d ever done anything else in business that she’d never done before, she immediately understood. Finding past examples in your life of accomplishing the outcome goals like the ones you’ve set is a great way to help yourself believe you can do it.

The most interesting part of doing this exercise across nearly a hundred advisors of varying production levels was that the most successful advisors had the hardest time with number 3: listing all the reasons you can’t achieve your outcome. One advisor even asked me how long we needed to do this step and nearly left the room because he hated talking to himself in this way.

The most successful advisors didn’t believe they couldn’t do it—or, to put it more succinctly, the highest achieving advisors believed they could do “it”—whatever “it” was. They outright rejected the idea they could not achieve the outcomes they wanted and rejected all the internal messages that told them why they would fail.

Challenging the limits of your beliefs is a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone to new levels of success. Sharing goals with a group of like-minded peers takes it even further, breaking the limits of your own field of vision by borrowing the perception of others to expand what you believe is possible.

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