Mentors in my life have challenged and pushed me to places I did not KNOW I wanted to go—they’ve made me ask and answer questions that help me grow. Recently, I met with one of my mentors, Jack Beatty, who I have not seen in two years. As excited and inspirational as ever, Jack has an uncanny ability to help people (me) find themselves (myself). Enthused by our conversation, my next four blog entries will focus on my chat with Jack and the importance of finding alignment within ourselves, asking the right questions and avoiding assumptions, and creating a natural client alignment process.
Jack Beatty is the founder and CEO of C.O.R.E. GROUP USA, http://www.coregroupusa.com, a firm specializing in helping financial advisors clarify their vision and focus on enriching the lives of their clients. C.O.R.E. GROUP USA distinguishes itself by empowering financial planners to develop, maintain and expand their client relationships.
Fight or Flight Fixes Nothing
Before I jump in to explaining how you can best align with clients (I will save that for part four), it is best to understand how we can best align with ourselves and achieve our own goals. Why is alignment so important? Here’s a personal example about how my own misalignment caused a relationship to wobble.
Recently, I packed up our car for a visit with my wife’s parents. We were leaving early in the morning, so I got most of the bags packed in the car the night before. We were picking up my wife’s parents from the airport and then continuing on to our destination. As such, I did not spend as much time arranging the bags, because without knowing what her parents had packed, I assumed we would just spend time reshuffling bags at the airport. However, when my wife saw the car, she immediately jumped in and began rearranging our luggage. She did not ask what my plan was; she did not consider what I had in store when we reached the airport.
Naturally, I was annoyed with her for plunging in without considering the context or asking what my plan was. I experienced the human nature of “fight or flight” … I shut down and did the bare minimum. We departed our house without a word. The next 25 minutes were in silence. I was in flight.
As it turns out, my natural inclination of flight actually didn’t need to happen. I could have easily asked my wife what her intent was: How was she trying to make things ‘better’? Essentially, I could have achieved a more ideal outcome by interacting with her and asking her questions. I provide this as an example, because before we can align with our clients, we should align with our own sense of being.
Jumping into a Mentor
Back to Jack. I met Jack at the end of 2007. A fellow advisor that both Jack and I worked with on different aspects of our business introduced us. Here is my note from my initial meeting with Jack on a snowy day in Denver: “I was impressed with Jack’s knowledge and insight and believe he can add to the engagement process we are looking for clients. I will call him Thursday to set up an appointment for Jan. 12 (week of).”
Since that time five years ago, Jack has acted as a mentor, pushing me to change my vision and my engagement with my self and the people around me (learnings which helped me realize that, in the example with my wife, I was out of alignment). Jack is a firm believer in applying the right mindset and energy to create the motivation to grow. The glass is not only half full, but the glass is also in the process of filling up. As Jack indicates, “A growth mindset sustains enduring success.”
Questions Create Opportunities
If you look around at the successful people you know, you will find a commonality between them—an overwhelming ability to see the opportunity in everything they do. Don’t get me wrong. They probably have more doubts than the next person. The difference is that they have trained themselves to compartmentalize these natural, human thoughts and move on to more positive stances.
Humans have been given the great instinct of fight or flight. However, in today’s world, where we are more likely to face the grimaces of an angry child or co-worker than face a charging mastodon, the reaction to fight or flight puts us at a disadvantage.
As I was stating in my story about my wife repacking the car, fight or flight impedes our ability to ask good questions. The fight or flight response is still needed, but it needs to be contained. Jack believes that “the adaptive unconscious is impulsively reacting to data which is being filtered through a very ancient apparatus—fight or flight and the assessment of this data can often lead to misalignment.”
The question then becomes, “How do we contest this urge to fight or flight?” The answer comes in training our brain, just like we would train any other muscle. To help train me, Jack started by recommending that I read Breaking the Rules: Removing the Obstacles to Effortless High Performance by Kurt Wright. The biggest takeaway from the book, in my opinion, is using a system of questions to tap into our intuitive mind. Wright emphasizes asking the “right” questions to understand what “lights us up.” Wright also encourages people to “identify and build on what is working” by creating a training system for seeing the opportunity in everything.
Building on the Wright’s work, Jack further explained: “The key to getting on a roll and staying there is learning to frame questions in such a way that they cannot be processed analytically. When we do this correctly, our questions are automatically processed by our intuition.”
Do you think I would have reacted better with my wife packing the car if I asked the right questions? I do! Asking the right questions gets us in the “right” frame of mind—the frame of mind to grow and to see the opportunity in everything we do. I also think that if I had trained my brain to automatically ask the right questions, it would have been a more natural reaction to my wife—rather than flying away.
So what are the “right” questions? How do you discipline yourself to intuitively ask the right question rather than fly away? Check out my next post and find out!
Read Kurt Wright’s book, Breaking the Rules: Removing the Obstacles to Effortless High Performance. Then look for my next blog post.