When I started my career in financial planning, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had a little money saved and I had done well investing. I had a wild idea that I could help others do the same. In the back of my head though, I knew it was dumb luck. But I set out to learn how to invest properly and that started with a job at a brokerage firm. The culture was very much about sales and little on education. I remember my first business conference in Los Angeles and how excited I was to learn more and make friends in the industry. When I was given a necktie as a departing gift, my bubble burst and I knew I was in a deeply entrenched male network that was going to be a struggle to fit in. And struggle I did. I began to believe that I had to be the best and the brightest to get ahead and I got all the credentials I could.
I was better, but business wasn’t better. I looked around and saw that many of my colleagues were successful not because they were good at what they did, but they could “close”. They hammered, shamed, boasted, and cajoled their way into the client’s psyche to build relationships and gain their trust. Not knowing any better, I tried to do the same. But it just wasn’t natural to me to be that way and so my business grew very slowly. I was fine with that. I slept well at night. My client’s appreciated the value that I brought to them and their families.
As my business grew, my spiritual practice grew and I realized the power of connecting with the basic goodness in everything. I use to approach my client relationships in the mindset of I am the financial professional and you aren’t. Let me help you. Suddenly, I got the insight that maybe all people are basically good and knowledgeable and can do the right thing for themselves. What if all they needed were some tools and resources and mentoring to empower themselves to make the right financial decisions over their lifetime?
I changed course. I took classes on Coaching and started to ask my clients more questions and deeper questions. I wanted to know how they could align their money with their family, life and values. I wanted to know what they could bring to the table to help themselves on this journey. I didn’t just do things for them but I showed them how they could do it for themselves. I gave of my self and my resources without any additional increase in my fees.
The response was overwhelming. It slowly snowballed into a much larger business for me and a much more enjoyable business. I also felt connected to my clients on a much deeper level. We were all family and we both understood that in this groundless path of investing, we could do this together. We could rise to the occasion to save and invest for the future and keep our fears in check and be flexible when the economy changed. We respected and honored the basic goodness in each other.
That heartfelt connection between business and consumer seems lost in today’s conglomerates. To create a culture of empathy, we have to believe that each person has the ability to do good and to do what’s right. Within the context of business relationships, that means respecting where each person is and honoring what and what they are not willing to do (no matter whether that enhances the business relationship or not.)
By learning more about each other and increasing our compassion for each other, we can relieve much suffering that exists today. We all are working with the groundlessness of our world and from that common thread there is no limit to the support and success we can bring to each other.