The following is based on one of Norm Trainor’s clients. All of the names and telling details have been changed to preserve client privacy.
When I first met Russ, he was going through a very difficult time. He was in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. As a result, he was drifting in his business and had lost his focus. He signed up for our Eight Best Practices of High-Performing Advisors program to get back on track.
During our first few coaching sessions, I learned a lot about the pain and frustration he was experiencing. His personal situation caused him to feel confused and uncertain about his future direction. He was in transition personally, and at sea professionally.
As we worked together, it became clear to me that what he was looking for in our relationship was for me to listen. My friend and colleague, Dr. Herb Koplowitz, taught me that we have to ask the advisors in our program if they want to be heard, cured or healed.
At times, the role of a financial advisor can be difficult and challenging. For independent advisors, it can also be lonely. Sometimes, advisors just want someone who will listen to them. For others, they have a specific problem they want to solve. It may be that they don’t have enough prospects or enough face-to-face time. They may feel reactive and out of control in their work. They are looking for a coach who can “cure” their problem.
Then there are advisors who want to be “healed.” They realize that an aspirin will cure a headache, but does not address the cause of the pain. For these advisors, the solution is to build a healthy practice. They want a coach who will work with them over an extended period of time to create and sustain a healthy and vibrant business; one in which they feel successful and fulfilled.
In our first year of working together, I spent most of my time with Russ just listening. Transitions involve endings, beginnings and a neutral zone where we are trying to sort through what is happening. For Russ, he needed time to figure things out, personally and professionally. He wanted me to act as a sounding board.
During the second year of our program, we began to focus on specific “cures” for problems in his practice. At this stage, he was also more open to dialogue around his vision for his business. During that year, he began to shift his focus to being “healed.” Our coaching interactions and his involvement in our workshops took on a different character.
In the third year of our program, he became actively engaged in the pursuit of health, personally and professionally. One of my mentors taught me a long time ago that, “maturing is learning to live without illusions.” To heal yourself, you have to let go of illusions. You have to ruthlessly look at yourself – strengths and weaknesses. Then you have to decide what you want to change. Russ reached that point in our third year of working together.
The difference in our coaching interactions was dramatic. He became an avid student in search of what he needed to do in order to grow. He no longer complained about how other people needed to be different and how the world needed to change. He took responsibility for his own actions and felt empowered. His business and personal relationships became more rewarding and satisfying. He stopped feeling like a victim. He exuded a quiet confidence that drew people to him.
At the same time, his self-awareness and humility touched the people around him. In the first year of our workshops, he complained about clients, staff, and suppliers. By the third year, he was a positive role model for the other advisors. In that year, his revenue doubled.