From the February 2012 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

February 1, 2012

Facing the Storm

Being a financial advisor can be a tough gig. Especially when the market is gyrating, there’s world turmoil and the euro’s imploding. It’s no wonder you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. It’s easy to tell yourself, “If the world’s about to end, I might as well go back to sleep. I’m sure somebody will wake me after Armageddon.”

While the economy and world events can sometimes seem like a dark storm, there’s another storm out there that many of you are working through, that most of us will never know about. This storm takes many different shapes and can vary its intensity without warning. It’s your very own personal storm.

In many cases, the personal storm is much bigger than any economic work-type storm. Yet, people battle through their personal storms every day for the simple sanity of being able to battle the storms at work as well.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about some of the people I’ve met with huge personal storms of their own. Somehow, they still kept the “Open” shingle hanging outside their door. My admiration goes out to those who show such perseverance.

As a wholesaler in Minnesota, one of the first brokers I ever called on was battling kidney cancer. He was on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Over the course of the next three years, I’m sure I took more sick days than he did (hangovers are technically an illness, right?). Being in the office was where he wanted to be, so he did whatever it took to get there.

Another time, I hosted a dinner with a number of potential new clients. It was my job to make sure everyone had a good time and came away with warm fuzzy feelings about my company. The boss joined us for dinner. He was his usual self, the second funniest guy at the table. We all had a great time and the clients joined the company. About two weeks later, I found out that shortly before my boss arrived that night, he had learned a close relative had cancer. If he hadn’t told me I would have never known. So much for me being a people person.

As I’m typing this, a close relative of mine is undergoing radiation treatment for cancer. He had to rent an apartment hundreds of miles from home (near a treatment center). Then, he had to show up at the hospital five days a week for treatment. In between treatments, for some reason, the fool is working. I’ve tried to reason with him that it’s his birthright to goof off at every opportunity, but he isn’t buying it.

The older I get, the more I know obstacles arise for all of us at one time or another. It’s how we handle them that makes all the difference. Of course, the personal storm isn’t only for people in the financial business. It’s an equal opportunity destroyer.

Every day there are people all around us that are dealing with their own storms. They will never tell you, but if you look closely you might be able to see. You don’t have to embarrass them by screaming out, “I know there’s something wrong! What is it?” Maybe, instead, you simply show an ounce of compassion, some empathy and then get back to work.

For me, I like to stockpile these memories. I store as many as I can in the hope that when it’s my turn to battle the storm, I do it with the same dignity and drive that I’ve admired in others — instead of my true instinct of kicking my feet and screaming like a baby. Wish me luck.

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