One of my favorite movies is “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” in which eccentric caddy Vance (played by Will Smith), carries the golf bag of Rannulph Junuh (played by Matt Damon), a formerly good player, who hasn’t played since his devastating experiences 10 years prior in World War I, in a match against golf legends Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. At one point, one of Junuh’s supporters asks Bagger Vance why Junuh is playing so poorly. Vance answers: “He still thinks he’s Rannulph Junuh.”
“But he is Rannulph Junuh,” cried the fan.
“Well,” replied Bagger Vance, “he is, and he ain’t.”
Bagger Vance’s challenge was to get Rannulp Junuh to realize he wasn’t the player he used to be, so he could play golf in a way that would work for him in the present. Like Bagger, one of the biggest challenges we have as business consultants is to get owner-advisors to let go of their old ways of doing business. Yes, their approach has gotten them to this point—no question about that—but 10 out of 10 times, it’s not going to get them to the next level. How can I be so sure? Because if it was working, they wouldn’t be talking to me.
Simply put, advisors who want to grow a more successful business and reach their goals cannot rely on their experiences up to this point. What they have to understand is that what got them to this level is not going to get them to the next level. The truth is that when they reach the point when they realize they need to change, they need to change. They need to tell themselves: What I’ve done to get my business to this point is not what I’m going to do going forward.
I have a great owner-advisor client in the Midwest who does almost everything I suggest—the kind of client you dream about. But in our initial meeting, he stated in no uncertain terms that he never wants to have a partner: He had a partner once, it turned out badly and he never wants to repeat that experience. But he did want to grow his firm significantly larger. So we created the foundation for a successful one-owner firm, hired some great employees including two advisors, trained them, supported them and built systems that maximized operational efficiency. For a few years, the firm was running great, growing nicely and making an impressive profit margin. Then it reached capacity, and his firm didn’t grow for two years.