With everything in me I believe that we owe it to ourselves to take the time to envision a future that is bigger, different or better and to take action on that vision. And I believe that taking action on that vision demands as much courage and optimism as a stubborn belief that change is possible (and perhaps necessary).
It’s this belief that sits at the foundation of the Pursuit of Absolute Engagement. When I wrote the book I could not have imagined the response and I’m grateful every single day.
Today, I wanted to share the bullet-point version of that pursuit as a way to walk through the journey from start to finish. Or, as I like to think of it, a 50,000-word book in fewer than 2,000 words. This is an overview of the path we take, in greater depth, in the book.
1. The Power of Taking Stock
- As we become adults, we tend to limit our dreams to the clearly achievable. In the process we put limits on our imagination before we can give ourselves a chance to dream big.
- We start our careers with a clear goal to grow; managing and sustaining that growth knocks us off course. At some point fulfillment flatlines, despite continued growth.
- The flatline is the result of drift from our original goals, lack of a clear vision or a change in what is important to us.
- Some advisors pause, recognize they are off course and break through by changing the question from ‘how will I grow’ to ‘what do I want to create’. When you reach the fork in the road, you have a choice to pursue something bigger or slip back into your comfort zone.
- The pursuit of Absolute Engagement changes the trajectory and focuses you on a future that combines significant growth with profound fulfillment.
2. A Vision of What’s Possible
- Absolute Engagement is about intentionally designing a business that supports the life you (really) want to live and a life that fuels your capacity to do just that.
- About 15 percent of advisors are Absolutely Engaged. They have both defined and are living their ideal as it relates to the clients with whom they want to work, the work they do and the role they play on the team.
- The impact of intentionally designing a business around your ideal work, clients and role includes:
- Greater confidence, clarity and control when it comes to professional goals
- Greater time spent on the right activities
- Greater financial success
- The ability to take more time off
- Enhanced well-being, including more energy, lower stress and better health
- The reason for such a significant impact is due, at least in part, to creating a business that has clear purpose and reflects what is most important to you.
3. The Path to Absolute Engagement
- Advisors who are Absolutely Engaged approach their businesses with three common principles:
- Personal vision drives business vision.
- Your client and team experience should be tailored to actively support your business vision.
- You’re human. Don’t forget it.
- There are five steps on the path to Absolute Engagement, each of which brings you up against an important decision:
- Awareness is about understanding what really energizes and inspires you when it comes to your clients, your work and your role.
- Audacity is about translating your personal vision into a business vision.
- Action is about tailoring your client and team experience to specifically reflect your offer and the unique needs of your target, while freeing you up to take on the role that will push the business forward.
- Accountability is all about ensuring that you have the support you need, personally, to follow through on your goals.
- Renewal acknowledges that in order to sustain momentum you need to refuel and recharge.
- Three obstacles can thwart your progress: focusing on what you think you “should” do, putting on the armor and ignoring the role of vulnerability in defining a vision for the future.
- Three characteristics should be nurtured to help you succeed: grit, a growth mindset and big goals.
4. The First Step Is ‘Awareness’.
- Awareness is about getting real on what matters, what you want and how you prioritize those things. This is where possibility lives. It’s difficult because it opens up the possibility of failure, feels selfish and requires extraordinary vision.
- Those who are Absolutely Engaged have answered three questions related to work, clients and role:
- With which clients do I most enjoy working and what is common among those individuals?
- When was the last time I was completely energized by the work I was doing and what characterized that work?
- What are the things that I, and I alone, should be doing to propel the business forward?
- To achieve Absolute Engagement you need to be wary of two traps: self-editing your goals before you get a change to start pursuing them and ascribing too much value to what you have today.
- You must decide if you’ll use the insights you gain from this step to inform your business going forward, or push those feelings to the side and slip back into your comfort zone.
5. The Second Step is ‘Audacity’
- Audacity is about translating your personal vision into a business vision. It’s about using the insights you gleaned in the “awareness phase” to formalize your target client, your offer and the role you will play on the team. This is where courage lives.
- Take action by translating your thinking and brainstorming about clients into a clear definition of your target and ideal client. Then, clearly define your offer and the role you will play in delivering on that offer.
- To drive action, define the impact that the right clients, right work and right role will have on you, your business, your clients and your team.
- In order to assess your plan:
- Examine the economic opportunity and impact of making changes to your target, offer and role.
- Determine if your plan will resonate with your clients, authentically.
- Focusing on a clear target and offer has three primary benefits:
- It taps into your intrinsic motivation and passion.
- It focuses your efforts rather than diffusing them.
- It differentiates you from other advisors.
- You must decide if you’ll draw a line in the sand and tell the world that you work with a defined target client to deliver a defined offer.
6. The Third Step is ‘Action”
- Action is about tailoring your client and team experience to specifically reflect your offer and the unique needs of your target, while freeing you up to take on the role that will push the business forward. This is where confidence lives.
- When there is alignment between personal, client and team engagement you create a form of momentum that propels the business forward.
- Satisfaction and loyalty are no longer enough. Achieving high ratings on these metrics makes you just as good as everyone else—but not distinctive.
- Engagement is the new standard and is being disrupted. Engagement creates a fundamentally different, deeper and more connected relationship with your clients.
- You need to communicate your plans to the team prior to defining the client experience but after defining your vision.
- You must decide if you’re willing to change how you communicate with clients and how you recruit and develop your team to ensure that the business reflects your vision.
7. Action Starts with the Client Experience
- An extraordinary client experience is intentional, consistent and meaningful, and must be designed to support the needs, goals and aspirations of your ideal client.
- When you build your client experience around the unique needs of your target, you are creating a direct connection between personal vision, business vision and client experience. That is the essence of Absolute Engagement.
- You cannot tell clients what an extraordinary client experience looks like but you can invite them into the conversation to help inform that client experience.
8. Action is About The Role You Play
- Absolute Engagement is not only about your clients and your team, but about how you will spend your time.
- When you can focus on the right work, the business will experience significant growth.
- To evaluate your time, put your activities into four quadrants based on the extent to which you are passionate about doing the activity and if someone else can do it.
- Once you have evaluated your activities, ask yourself the critical questions to help you confirm the activities you should be doing, give up activities you shouldn’t be doing, identify opportunities to train others on key activities and, sometimes, highlight the need for additional support or resources.
9. Action Involves Your Team
- An effective team experience needs to align with your personal vision and is co-created with those around you.
- The team and client experience cannot be managed in isolation because creating value is based on the interaction between the employee and the client.
- To map out an engaged team experience follow these three steps:
- Define your culture to connect your personal vision with the vision you have for your team.
- Get clear on fit by defining who is exactly right for your team based on your culture and your client experience.
- Co-create an engaging team experience, including development, involvement, communication, reward and fun.
10. You Need Support
- Accountability is about ensuring that you have the personal support you need to follow through on your goals. This is where commitment lives.
- If you do not have a person or group that actively supports you in succeeding you have less chance of success.
- Mastermind Groups provide a structure and process that uses a group dynamic to ensure you do not fail.
- Personal accountability will require that you set time aside to focus on your plan and reconnect with the reasons why you are pursuing the path to Absolute Engagement.
- You must decide if you’ll continue to work alone, or reach out and create a formal support network that will ensure that you reach your goals.
11. You’re Human
- Renewal acknowledges that in order to sustain momentum you need to refuel and recharge. This is where creativity lives.
- Those who are Absolutely Engaged set intentional goals around renewal, in particular by taking more vacation.
- Renewal is driven more by managing your energy across four distinct parts of your life: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Managing energy demands pushing yourself in different areas of your life and then allowing time to recover.
- Lack of sleep has a negative impact on productivity and creativity.
- Many find renewal one of the hardest steps because it requires that we put ourselves first.
- You must decide if you’ll continue to squeeze in time for yourself as you build the business or whether you will intentionally set goals for renewal in the same way you set goals for the business.
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