Self-improvement is the mantra of modernity. People want to look better, feel better, have greater resources and be happier. They want to become the best version of themselves as quickly and with as little effort as possible.
The pursuit of physical fitness is a case in point. People visit personal trainers wanting to build stamina, sculpt more attractive arms or legs, lose weight or gain strength. Validating those goals, trainers also remind their clients of the importance of working on their core — the muscles around their trunk and pelvis. Why? Because the stronger and more flexible those muscles are, the more effective and efficient other areas of the body will be.
Why discuss core muscles in a business ethics column? Because as I’ve observed this industry during my 10 years as a columnist, I’ve seen how easy it is for advisors to get distracted from the core values and ethical practices that produce long-term success. They focus on seeing more prospects, closing more sales, cross-selling more products, racking up more conference credits, graduating to a nicer office, buying a more luxurious home, etc. There’s nothing wrong with wanting those things. But remember, they are results, not root causes. The core exercise of ensuring you’re in this business for the right reasons — and of treating your clients the right way — are infinitely more important.