Albert Einstein once famously said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” It’s equally true, however, that “Execution without vision is chaos.” These principles are two sides of the same coin — like yin and yang — and necessarily belong together, since having one without the other renders both unusable. Alternatively, combining a powerful vision with strong execution creates an unstoppable force for achieving your desired outcomes, including building a great business as a financial advisor.
Create, Communicate, ActEvery business leader and entrepreneur must create a compelling vision to drive his or her organization and bring coherence to those who work for it. Consider, for example, the consistent research showing that when good workers leave their jobs, they list compensation as being only the third or fourth most important factor. Instead, what drives away workers is either a sense of not fitting into the organization’s big picture or feeling underappreciated. A powerful vision goes a long way toward increasing workers’ understanding of what they’re doing and why it’s important, thereby addressing both of these factors.
But creating a great vision is not enough. You, as the leader, must also be able to effectively communicate that vision to everyone you work with. So, if you have a great vision but can’t communicate it in a manner that people understand — in a manner that focuses and motivates them — it’s barely a step up from having no vision at all.
Once you have created and communicated your vision, you need to coherently act your part. If your actions are incoherent with your vision — if you ignore it or contradict it in how you actually do things — then you’ve shot yourself in the foot. Everyone will see that you aren’t living up to your own vision, and then sure enough they won’t live up to it either. “Why should I have to be held to a standard that the boss isn’t held to?”
The Mechanics of CreationTo create a compelling vision, start by arranging some time alone. Then take out a fresh piece of paper, and begin asking yourself a series of questions that you write down the answers to. (Actually writing things down seems to have more impact for many people than typing things on a computer screen, perhaps because you’re actually making a mark in the world.)
The first question is, “Why am I in this business?” Go beyond pat answers such as “I like helping other people.” Instead, consider your long-term goals, your desired payoff, and your specific emotional tie-in to the business. In other words, what about the business really satisfies or excites you?
The second question is, “Why do I want to do this?” What do you hope to accomplish by being in the business? Put differently, you want to identify the highest purpose for doing what you’re doing. As with all these questions, drill down past simple answers like “I want to make money” and get to the personal and emotional level. Just as when you press clients with further (or “second order”) questions to understand what’s really important to them, make sure you keep asking “why?” questions until you get down to the inner core of what you’re really about here.
For example, suppose your first response to the second question is “Because I have a family, and want to put bread on the table.” Now ask yourself “why?” again. You might respond, “Because I enjoy the interaction with my clients that allows me to put bread on the table.” Then ask “why?” again. “I enjoy the interaction with my clients because I believe helping people achieve a secure financial future is a critical role in American society.” Asking “why?” one last time to take it even deeper, you might respond, “Because I feel fulfilled when my clients have a better life.”
The third question is “What is unique about a future that I would invent for myself?” What distinct legacy do you want to leave behind? What unique qualities about your business would make you and others who work with you be proud to be associated with it?
The fourth question is “What is the common purpose that we seek to achieve together in this business?” Similar to the second question, here you look at things from the perspective of your partners, team members and other staff. That is, organizationally, what are you hoping to accomplish?
The fifth question is “What are the goals that I see my business achieving?” This question is oriented towards actual, real-world, measurable results and impacts. Unless you have a clear understanding of these goals, it will be very difficult for you to know what to do in order to achieve them.