If there is one thing you learn after a few years as a Financial Advisor, after surviving the first year of struggling to survive, it is this:
Effort/Hard Work doesn’t scale the way you thought it did.
We are all indoctrinated into a particularly ineffective way of improving our performance from an early age: Work Harder, Practice More. This system works, well in fact, for the early parts of our development in any particular sport and/or career. The big problem is this: It doesn’t scale well.
At a certain point, in my experience around years 3-5, you start to begin burning out. This is a slow burn out at this point. You are successful, making good money and getting nice feedback from your clients and you don’t feel desperate…yet.
The signs are there though…you are getting stressed at the volume of work and the increasing demands on your time. Often, you are starting to sacrifice personal time and relationships slightly. Yet, your ‘work harder’ solution is starting to fray a bit at the edges.
There are two options at this point if you want to continue at your current level of success, or, move to another higher level of performance:
(1) White Knuckle it and pray that you don’t have a physical or mental breakdown before you make enough money to not have to work
(2) Explore creating a different system for getting to another level of performance and actually enjoying it. This is where I come in as a Coach
Clients work with me because they are experiencing some version of what I describe above. We do have a coaching system that helps my clients discover new and better ways to perform at a higher level in their financial services careers, but, you might be surprised by one of the first things we discuss and seek to implement: Fitness & Nutrition.
I always talk about fitness & nutrition with my clients when we are first working together because it is the easiest and simplest way to get them thinking better in general and experiencing some positive momentum in habit formation that will carry them to the next level in EVERY aspect of their life.
What might be different is how we approach the subject. There is no magic pill to swallow…no perfect exercise (even though I do have some favorite core movements). Instead, the discussion focuses on creating an exercise and nutrition program that they believe (both logically and most importantly emotionally) will improve their performance at work and in their personal life.
I do not believe in ‘checking the box’ on exercise and nutrition. If you want to just do something physical with no plan for anything further…just walk 10 minutes 2-3 times per day. You will get better…guaranteed.
All of my financial advisor clients are dealing with significant levels of stress, overwhelming compliance issues that complicate their workflows and the absolute need to somehow fit in time for being face to face with their clients.
They need to be able to get stuff done even when it is stressful and cognitively overwhelming.
Most of my clients as a part of our discussion begin to value strength as a part of their new and expanded identity. We explore how it manifests itself in the gym (or their garage) and in the kitchen.
For some clients, strength means we need to focus on doing resistance training designed to add some lean body mass that actually can be used in their regular life. Others, need to decrease their amount of body fat without becoming weaker. Skinny fat/Weak fat is not ideal if you are seeking to improve performance across your life!
All of my clients are seeking to be able to function better cognitively when stressed out and tired and that is what directs the conditioning part of their program. We design and test with them particular workouts that are designed to get them physically challenged enough that they have to mentally decide to focus in and get the work done…when it is uncomfortable and hard..
Once we have designed the work out program (which always includes stuff they do at home on their own in addition to the personal training time with me) it’s time to have a discussion about whether or not their current nutritional habits support or detract from their work performance…let alone the new exercise plan. In almost all cases (100% so far) where they are currently is far from optimal.
I want to stress that the secret to improving nutrition is having a plan that the client (you!) will actually comply with. From my coaching experience, there is absolutely no benefit to setting up my clients to create outcomes that they don’t reach. This leads to frustration and negative thinking. My nutrition plan, which I am quite pleased with, is not what I recommend for my clients. The key is get them started…not perfect right away or ever.
Instead, we start small and easy on both the exercise and nutrition. I make sure, to the best of my ability, to almost guarantee that they can’t fail in the first 90 days. This means that the food and exercise can’t emotional stress them out when they think about eating or doing it.
The habits of being disciplined to complete tasks they agreed to and felt were important are vital to the work we will do in their actual financial services practice. That confidence and improved energy and focus from working out and eating better will be leveraged specifically to creating higher performance at work and being a better human being at home. Otherwise, why do it at all?
A great reference that has clarified my work with my clients is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. The best book I have yet to read on how to actually build habits that will stick and then compound into serious success over time. If you do anything as a result of reading this…buy that book!
So there you go, my secret to getting quick performance improvement for financial advisors isn’t done in the office. The work is done in their gym and in their kitchens. The really cool part is this: by keeping the process of improving their fitness and nutrition slow, incremental in growth and low stress…they are building discipline, habits and resilience that is guaranteed to seriously improve their advisory business.
More on this to come later, but, for now…read the book and apply it outside the office. You will be rewarded, massively, if you do it correctly.
Why do people hire me? To get to the next level faster and then be able to stay there without massive sacrifice and personal regrets. That, in a nutshell, is our purpose at Values Based Mindset. Our focus is our clients results, their overall health and especially their feeling about their success. Better Results With Less Regret!
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