Pathway to Excellence – Excerpt

From Supernova Advisor Teams: A Pathway to Excellence

As you embark on any change strategy from doing things the way you have always done them you will need to start first with yourself and your attitude about change. This has to happen before transformation can really take place. 

Let’s face it, we all want to be comfortable in life. At times, factors such as managing change, reaching new levels of performance and establishing stretch goals can be difficult, if not exhausting. After many years in this business you want to feel you’ve arrived at a special place in life and can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Over time you fall into the comfort zone. Life can be repetitive and boring. You know what to expect at every turn. This leads to complacency and for some of us it is easy to fall into a rut. You’ve heard the old adage time and time again, “We are all creatures of habit”. There’s a lot of comfort in knowing your routines and what’s around the corner. But sometimes these repetitive routines can be like boundaries that hold us back and keep us inward, thus keeping us from experiencing new things. When you have a set of predetermined activities and approaches that become second nature, you are then able to minimize stress and risk. The comfort zone is a state of mental security that provides regular happiness and low anxiety. The problem is that this state—if prolonged—will keep you from feeling challenged and experiencing new things.

One fundamental fact about venturing into the unknown and trying new things as a financial advisor is the fear associated with reaching new heights of performance. You’ve been successful, a great family provider, you serve on a couple of non-profit boards, and maybe coach your kid’s sports team in your spare time. In the winter, you go skiing and during the summer you visit the lake or the beach. You’ve grown accustomed to this life and the pattern, and on the surface, it feels pretty good. However, something is missing. You know what it is You could be doing more or doing better. But stepping outside your comfort zone seems risky, scary, and downright uncomfortable. Ask yourself this fundamental question and be honest: “What’s the one or two biggest impediments to breaking out of your comfort zone?” If you answered me, me, and me, well then you are well on your way to breaking out of your comfort zone. It’s not your boss, your firm, family, or resources that are holding you back!

Our obsession with comfort can haunt us and keep us from realizing our full potential, not to mention some new and exciting adventures we might miss out on. Be careful of tried-and-true benchmarks or comparisons. Expressions like, “I’m outperforming everyone in my office”; “I’m number one in my district”; “I’m highly ranked in my class”; and “I’m making more than I ever have before”. Sure, be proud of your accomplishments and achievements, however, set benchmarks that stretch you beyond your comfort zone. 

When we get comfortable in the “zone” it is like a gravitational pull that moves us toward what is fun and easy, rather than toward what is difficult challenging and goal-achieving. Remember the teacher, the coach, your parent, or maybe that drill instructor who pushed you beyond your boundaries and so-called limitations? It wasn’t easy going through it, however, you succeeded and went on to higher levels of performance. You had to first let go of the chains that bound you. For the most part these chains were mental. Once you break through you feel elation and accomplishment. That’s a feeling that you must play back in your mind from time to time. It gives us strength.

It’s not all about success; it’s about the journey and sometimes there are setbacks along the way. There are no guarantees and sometimes we get derailed. The thrill comes when we get back up and try again and, later, overcome the obstacles that hinder our success. 

Let’s recall Bethany Hamilton, a surfer at 13, who lost her arm and nearly lost her life in a vicious shark attack in 2003 in Kauai. One month later she was back on her surfboard with a determined spirit and positive attitude. Two years later she won first place in the Explorer Women’s Division of the NSSA National Championships.

How about another familiar name, Dr. Seuss, who wrote 46 books that sold more than 200 million copies? His first book (And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street) was reportedly rejected by 28 publishers before being published. His persistence in the face of rejection paid off. Big time.

One of my favorite stories is about a person who literally ran out of his comfort zone— athlete, physician and academic, Roger Bannister. People had been trying to break the four-minute mile since the time of ancient Greece. Everyone believed that it was physiologically impossible for a human to run a mile in four minutes. Experts said the bone structure was inadequate and that lung capacity wouldn’t allow it. Soon after Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954, 37 other runners broke the four-minute barrier. The following year, 300 runners broke the four- minute mile barrier. 

The theme in the above examples reveal true human breakthroughs in attitude. There are many examples of people doing extraordinary things to overcome adversity and step outside their comfort zones. You can get a little inspiration by reading stories about human potential to break through life’s challenges from time to time.

It takes tenacity and courage to embark on a personal change strategy or reinvention as some say. The first has to do with attitude. A positive attitude will allow you to face the challenges of everyday life. It’s your state of mind and your outlook and view on things. The second component to your change strategy is your belief in yourself and what you’re doing. It’s not arrogance, it’s confidence. The third component is commitment. When you are committed to something, you make no excuses, the debate is over, and there is no more lengthy analysis, just action.

Today, change the words from, “I’m not comfortable doing that” to “My life experiences have prepared me to accept new and exciting challenges.” Buckle your seatbelts, my friends and get ready to transform your team.