I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to suggest that we all share a common goal – to build a business that delivers growth and fulfillment.
Think back to when you started out, with such focus and energy. You were building something and it felt great and a big part of that fulfillment was because you were so laser focused on a clear and simple goal – to grow.
And you got to work. You started adding clients – and then a few more. That first phase was all about growth and it was awesome. Then you may have added a team member or two to support that growth. But the change didn’t stop at work – on the home front you may have added a spouse and a kid or two. Somewhere along the way you learned to juggle all of it.
And if you’re like so many others, there was probably a day when you looked up from the juggling act to find that you’d drifted from your goal. That drift wasn’t the result of any conscious or bad decisions, but the natural result of spending more and more of your time responding to the needs of others.
And if that drift sounds anything like your experience, you’re not alone. Two thirds of advisors say they’re not on track as it relates to the goals and vision they’ve set for the business. It’s almost inevitable. Growth demands that we set vision aside for a period of time to focus on creating the infrastructure to support it. And that’s, it seems, where so many of us get stuck and hit the fulfillment flatline.
The problem is this. If we spend all our time supporting the business we’ve already built, we never design the business we want to create.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve shared information on our research on those advisors who are Absolutely Engaged, a relatively small group of 15 percent of advisors who’ve swerved the fulfillment flatline. They generate more revenue in fewer hours, focus on the right activities and report lower stress, higher energy and better health.
And those stunning differences are the result of doing three things differently. They have defined the clients with whom they work and have built their business around those clients. They are more likely to have defined the work they want to do and built their businesses around that work. And, they are more likely to have defined the role they want to play and taken action on changing that role. Just three things.
You see, those who are Absolutely Engaged understand something simple, but important. You build what you design.
Absent a design for the next phase of our business, we tend to default to our original vision, which may not fit as well as it did when we started out. Absent taking on the role of driving that design, we tend to build to the specifications of everyone around us.
To intentionally design the next phase rather than drifting toward it, I’d suggest a fundamental change is needed.
That change involves asking ourselves a new question. Rather than asking how you can grow your business by 5, 10 or 20 percent next year, consider asking yourself this. What do I want to create?
Incremental growth suggests incremental change. Design is about a bigger vision for the future and often leads to very different changes.
The Path to Change
Our research not only uncovered the fundamental change needed, but the path to get there. Focusing on what you want to create means focusing on alignment. Specifically, a meaningful design requires alignment between: a compelling personal vision, your business strategy, and your client and team experience.
Put slightly differently, a compelling personal vision drives your business strategy. Your business strategy drives your client experience and your client experience drives your team experience. We often tackle these things in isolation so the critical difference with alignment is that you’re creating a through line from one to the next.
Alignment is, ultimately, about leading with personal vision and connecting the dots so that the way you run your business is a clear reflection of that personal vision.
The path to alignment is simple but not easy. We’ve identified three steps: awareness, audacity and action.
- It starts with awareness and this, I like to say, is where possibility lives. Awareness is, quite simply, getting real on what energizes and inspires you. It’s about hitting pause for long enough to go deep on those three areas we identified earlier: the clients you want to work with, the work you want to do and the role you want to play on the team.
- Step two is focused on audacity – or doing something about that personal vision. I like to say that this is where courage lives because it moves you from a dream to something tangible. In step two you translate that personal vision into a business strategy which typically involves defining a clear niche or a new role for yourself on the team.
- Step three is all about action and, more specifically, designing your client and team experience. And this, I like to say, is where confidence lives because it demands that you question what you’ve already built. Your goal is to connect the dots and craft a client experience that is a direct reflection of the business strategy which is, in turn, a direct reflection of your personal vision.
We do, of course, have a choice. We can continue to be all things to all people. We can continue to react to the needs of a diverse client base. We can focus our time supporting the business we’ve already built. Or we can make the changes that will move us toward a ‘next phase’ of the business that is as fulfilling as when we started.
As you go, you’ll need to be aware of the stealth-like obstacles that can get in your way. Acknowledging if and where you are getting stuck is the key to success and it’s sometimes an uncomfortable realization. You can read more about that here.
The reality is this. There is a clear path to Absolute Engagement. It is, at times, messy. And it does, almost always, demand a high level of self-awareness and self-reflection. But it’s worth it in the end.
Thanks for stopping by,