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Changing Forward Means Silencing Your Inner Gremlins

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While change can be difficult and challenging, there’s often a bigger reason why we want to avoid it.

Often times what lies at the heart of resisting change is being afraid of what people will think of us.

It was 1986. I was now seventh in the world after World Games that year. I had returned to UC Berkeley on my swimming scholarship, and one day I was swimming backstroke in lane one with my coach walking up and down the pool deck, right alongside me, looking down at me. He stopped me and said if I was really serious about winning an Olympic medal in a year and a half, I was going to have to change my stroke.

Now, I resisted this heavily! Seventh in the world, down from twentieth; we’re on track to do well. Let’s just leave well enough alone and keep doing what we’re doing. He explained to me because I loved lifting weights I was going to eventually blow out my elbows very quickly if I didn’t change my stroke.

While I could understand why I needed to do that from a speed perspective and from a weight-training perspective, the biggest issue I had — the biggest challenge — was it meant slowing down and really losing face amongst the rest of the swimmers on our team.

Related: How to Deal With Self-Doubt

That can be exactly the same with you as an advisor. You can resist changing for fear of what others may think of you. For instance, you can resist tightening up that language when you ask for a referral because the first couple of times, if you mess up, what will people think of you? Or you can resist stratifying that book of business and setting time blocks to do that because you’re not out prospecting. What will other people in your office think of you? You can have a myriad of reasons to resist those incremental changes just because you’re afraid of what others may think of you while you’re going through that process.

So,

  • Decide on what it is you need to change most and believe in that and come to that realization of, “If I don’t change this, I’m not going to be the greatest advisor I know I could be.”
  • Outline those steps that you need to change. Look at them realistically and implement them onto your calendar.
  • Be accountable to someone around you. It means just checking in on maybe a daily or weekly basis: did I try at every opportunity that day to take care of that issue and do it afresh, do it anew? You can have a whole team of people around you, and they’ll be with you. That change may take time, and it may feel lousy, as my change did when I was swimming: it slowed me down for at least two months. I wasn’t competing as strongly as what I could have done, but it grooved in a great stroke so that a year and a half down the track I could go on from being seventh in the world in ’86 to 1988 winning an Olympic medal.

Break the big picture down into daily increments, and you’ll achieve that longer-term objective far sooner than you ever thought.

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