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These 3 questions will make you a better advisor

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The great philosopher Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” As we approach the holidays and the end of the year, it is a good time to take a few moments to reflect on all of the wonderful things that have happened and the new challenges that face you and your business. 

I havbeen blessed in my life to have wonderful mentors challenge me to become not just a better businessman but, more importantly, a better person. Running a successful advisory business constantly presents difficult challenges. I am not a philsopher, and what I am writing about are struggles that I face as well: not taking enough time to reflect on and learn from my successes and failures. So let’s reflect on 2015 as we look to plan for an amazing 2016. 

I am a big fan of historical movies, and one of my favorites is 300. I know it is rather intense, but the lessons from it are great. Marcus Aurelius, the Spartan king, was faced with overwhelming odds to defeat the world’s largest enemy. But before the great battle that shaped Marcus’s ethos were the teachers and mentors who influenced him. As a teenager, Marcus was taught by Socrates and was constantly being pushed to find the deeper meaning in life and become more aware of his surroundings and events. 

Wcan apply these life principles tour practice through some questions that I would encourage you to ask yourself, to prime the pump as you prepare to write down your 2016 goals. As you reflect on the following questions, make sure to write down all of your thoughts and share them with a colleague or mentor.

Reflection questions

1. What do you stand for? Purpose based on principles is everything. Without it, we are nothing. When you know what you really value, you can make conscious decisions based upon a foundational value system. Leaders of great teams have an unswerving commitment to what they believe in. This consistency will inspire confidence and trust in those who follow you. You need not just your employees, but also your clients to see and understand this.

“Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything.” ~ Alexander Hamilton

2. What should you stop doing? After identifying your ethos and the principles you plan to live by, implementing them will become a light to your daily path. I have always believed in asking myself what I should stop doing first, as it seems we know this answer relatively quickly. I also like to ask the question “What can I do better next time?” to help stimulate the thought process. Create a “Stop Doing” list to help you focus on the essential things in your life and eliminate the ones that are less important. I also recommend you share this list with someone who can help keep you accountable. 

“Do today what others won’t, so tomorrow you can achieve what others can’t.” ~ Mark Divine

3. What do you really believe about making mistakes? Stronger leaders admit when they make mistakes and take ownership for them. The key is then focusing your energy on learning from your mistake, so you do not repeat it. This is one of the most difficult things to do in life, but when exercised over time, you end up growing much faster, and others will respond to your authenticity and trust the environment you are creating. We all know we are not perfect, but it is the response to our mistakes that will define how others will see and judge us.  

“If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum.” ~ Holly Near

Throughout history, great leaders have had a burning desire to improve. I believe a great leader’s focus is not on the material world, but on operation on the highest moral plane possible, focusing on legacy and helping those in need. It is my hope that this article will encourage you to become a better person in the community you serve at home and in the public. For me, this challenge will always present itself.