At the age of 5, I participated in my first organized sports team. Since then I’ve played on dozens of teams in many different sports. Each of these teams had a coach. Some were better than others, but in all cases, it was the coach that made the biggest difference to the success of the players each season.
It seemed only natural that when I was a brand-new financial advisor, I would have a “coach” to help me with my day-to-day activities. I may have called this coach a manager, but the principles were the same. This person taught me the fundamentals, held me accountable to my goals, and made sure I was doing the right things each and every day. I had success because I followed his counsel and worked my tail off.
That success has continued to grow exponentially over the years, to the point where I now coach others. You might say I have “made it.” Actually, I’m at the point in my career where most people make a big mistake.
Most people think that once you have “arrived,” you no longer need any help. But if that’s true, then why do NFL teams have coaches at all? Those players have certainly demonstrated some success, or they would not have been drafted!
The truth is that no one is ever so good at anything that they cannot get better, and most folks cannot get much better without help. Unless you want your career to peak very early, you need a coach.
But generally speaking only some financial planners seem to realize that.
Usually, around the five-year mark, planners start to feel like they have it made and don’t need to learn anything else. Then, they stagnate. Part of the problem is that not many advisors make it long in the business. The other part is that the financial planning industry is justly famous for providing in-depth training for our associates—for their first four years. At year five, you’re no longer even remotely a trainee, you have great experience, and you probably know as much, or more than, your manager.
Even if you want to keep learning, how are you going to find a coach who can teach you anything?
The first thing to realize is that a good coach doesn’t need to know more about the game than the players do. It’s almost impossible for anyone to see their own performance objectively, but a coach can tell you where you need to improve. When you think you’re good enough, a coach can hold you to a higher standard.
The second thing to realize is that there are always people out there who know more than you do. Don’t assume that your coach will always be your manager, and don’t wait for the right person to just come along. Go out and find someone. There is a wealth of individuals out there who are very capable of enabling a successful professional to go to the next level. Working with one of these people will require a time commitment and a financial commitment on your part, so be prepared.
One individual I’ve been using personally, and who has made a tremendous impact in my life, is Andrew Thorn. Andrew has enabled me to gain deeper insights, not only into the “how” of what I do professionally, but more importantly, into the “why.” He is showing me how to lead with my legacy in mind.
But regardless of whom you use, I encourage you to find someone. After all, you are always becoming someone, and the person you become is largely determined by the books you read and the people you surround yourself with—so choose wisely and make it count!