Max Bolka is a 30+ year veteran of the financial services industry who developed and served a nationwide planning and investment clientele. Today he “Builds First-Class Financial Advisors” of all kinds through his dynamic speaking, insightful writing and comprehensive business development mentoring program.
Helen Keller was once reportedly asked, “Is there anything worse than being blind?"
She replied, "Yes, a person with sight and no vision." In over 30 years of working with clients, I have found that a lack of vision is the major reason why many Advisors never reach their full potential. Advisors who think big tend to achieve big things, both in business and in life.
Many people in their teens and early twenties start out feeling invincible (and it’s not solely because their brains are not yet fully developed!). But by the time a lot of us reach our forties we may feel fortunate just to get out of bed in the morning without too many aches and pains, perhaps barely able to pay the bills, no matter what our level of income.
Why Most People Don’t Think Big
While we all start out thinking big, several factors tend to constrict our vision over time:
First, we slowly become socialized through reward and punishment until we conform, thinking and acting like everybody else, which is smaller. And it starts very innocently.
Remember when you were little, jumping off the stairs because you were convinced you could fly? What happened? We got socialized. “Get down from there. You’re going to hurt yourself!” Seems reasonable, right? But it’s very misleading, because this is when we got put in a box and they started building walls around us. The warnings continued…
“You can’t do that! Who do you think you are? Money doesn’t grow on trees.
Do you think I’m made out of money? You have to work hard, get a good education. Besides, you’re too tall/short, black/white, thin/fat. You’re not smart enough. You’re not qualified, you’re OVER qualified! Your territory is too small, there’s not enough money in it. Your territory’s too big, it’s too unwieldy and you’ll never be able to cover it all.”
Well, which one is right? If you’re waiting for just opportunity, just the right size territory, have just the proper amount of education, just the right clients, just the right situation, or waiting to get taller or shorter, you’re going to severely limit your business success.
What If They’re Wrong?
What if you really CAN fly? What if you really CAN double your income over the next 12 months working only four days a week, travel the world, be responsible to your clients and still be a good parent or grandparent? What if they’re wrong?
What if all their criticism is self-criticism? What if all their negativity is just a projection of their own fears? What if they just want to keep you down there with them, playing small?
And what if you listen to “them” and you never get anywhere YOU want to go?
How To Practice Thinking Big
Creating space enables you to gain perspective by taking time out from the incessant activity that can impede our long-term growth. Taking time out to think and develop our state of mind is not always an easy thing to do in the fast-paced world in which we live, but it’s an essential requirement. Even when we take vacations, many people are so busy doing, they never get any true down time to just “be”.
Did you ever notice you start to feel better about three days into a real vacation, especially someplace close to Nature? After a few long walks, looking out over the expansive ocean or mountains, with no computers or cell phones, what happens? We start to relax. Even better, we start to dream again.
Let’s play a game. Write down your revenue goal for this year. Got it? Good…now, DOUBLE IT. And let me know when you get over the shock! You’ll immediately notice it can be both exciting and scary, liberating and terrifying, all at the same time. There’s most likely a little voice in your head that says, “But I have no idea how to do it.” Now is a good time to start retraining your mind, change your way of thinking and upgrade to a more successful mindset.
Don’t Worry About “How”
“I have no idea what to do” is just a trick the mind uses to rationalize away the fear of trying anything new because you might fail. This fear creates stress, paralyzing us, resulting in inaction and the eventual feeling of hopelessness.
But if everyone believed that line of reasoning, no one would ever try anything new and nothing new would ever have been invented throughout history. Read the biography of any great figure. Don’t you think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs faced many fears over the 40 years in which they changed the world?
We’re afraid to think big, we’re afraid to ask, we’re afraid of failure, success, and rejection. But successful people act despite their fears. They realize that one should never act (or not act) out of fear, which is a position of weakness. They always come from a position of strength, which is empowering, even if they fail.
There is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Successful people “adjust their sails” in order to keep moving towards their vision. The result is that they feel alive, engaged and empowered along their journey.
Be A Contrarian
Successful people are, for the most part, Contrarians. When everyone zigs, they zag. When everyone goes left, they go right. When everyone else buys, they sell.
Sir John Templeton, the legendary money manager and Dean of Global Investing, taught that, “Everyone can't beat the market because everyone is the market. You must be willing to do something different if you want superior results.”
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Doubling your goal (Thinking Big) immediately stretches your boundaries and shines a light on those areas of your business that need shoring up. Do you need a more focused direction? More discipline or better time management? Will you have to formalize and systematize your operations, sales or marketing efforts? Working on those areas you identify will enable your business to explode. How much success can you stand?
Anyone can double their revenue if they’re willing to work twice as many hours, right? But that’s usually not the goal. Another way you can double your goal is to get clients who are worth twice the revenue to you. Double your average revenue per client. This is just one example of working smarter, not harder.
Paradox Planning enables you to make a practical plan (IE: To double your goal) even when you haven’t the slightest idea how. Let’s say you want to increase your gross revenue from $200k to $400k.
First, create a projected Profit & Loss Spread Sheet listing where your newly doubled $400k revenue will be spent. Then, “Show me the money!” Allocate your expenses to include increased staffing, vacations, toys, retirement contributions, etc. Do you have funds left over? Keep allocating until you’ve accounted for it all. What you put your attention on grows, so be specific about where the money will go.
Next, let’s reduce the number of clients to a manageable number, perhaps around 100.
Of course, you’ll now have an increased revenue per client with no idea how to attract them, but at this stage that’s OK. At least we have a plan: 100 clients @ $4,000 target revenue per client gives us our $400k gross. If they all had $400k investable assets and you placed the entire amount in AUM @ 1.00%...Voila! And we have not accounted for any planning fees, insurance or other solutions you may provide. All of a sudden, your plan stars looking very doable.
Achieve The Impossible
Einstein said we cannot solve problems using the same level of thinking that created them. We must think in new ways, on new (higher) levels. When we come up against obstacles, very often we can’t see the solutions because we aren’t looking in the right places. We aren’t searching high enough. Our attention is stuck on the lower levels.
Opening our minds to seemingly “impossible” goals allows the filters of our perception to pick up the ideas, meet the people, go places, and do things we would not otherwise have done, leading to success beyond our wildest dreams. But to succeed beyond your wildest expectations, you’ve got to start with some pretty wild expectations.
Thinking big gives you perspective, and having a broader perspective leads to direction, purpose and motivation to keep going during times when you get bogged down in the day to day minutiae.
Looking back over the years, you’ve probably already accomplished things in your business and your life that, back then, you thought were most certainly impossible.
This year, don’t just think outside the box: Get rid of the box altogether! Do something you've never done before. I promise it will be an exhilarating experience, and it could very well change your business and your life.