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Four Steps to Conquering Discomfort—and Achieving Greater Success

The difference between a mediocre advisor and a high achiever is a willingness to do uncomfortable things. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

By Bill Bachrach, CSP

In coaching advisors for more than 17 years, I’ve observed a key distinction between those who succeed at a high level and those who operate at a more mediocre level. Successful advisors are willing to do uncomfortable things. I’m talking about things that are uncomfortable for everyone. Successful people manage to do them, while those who aren’t succeeding at a high level will do just about anything to avoid the feeling of discomfort.

What discomforts are you avoiding that need to be faced for you to be the successful advisor you’re really capable of being? Are you asking yourself “what if” questions that discourage you?

  • What if I hire the staff I really need, but it doesn’t work out? (Implication: I’ve wasted time, effort and money.)
  • What if I confront a staff person who isn’t getting the job done and he quits? (Implication: I’m stuck with doing paperwork, and I’m forced to go out and find the right person for the job.)
  • What if I ask for referrals and I offend a client? (Implication: The client fires me and tells everyone in the community what a bad person and advisor I am.)
  • What if I follow up on a referral and he doesn’t appreciate my call? (Implication: He calls my client because he’s angry. Then the client gets mad that his friend is mad, so the client fires me and tells everyone in the community what a bad person and advisor I am.)
  • What if I make that investment in my business and it doesn’t turn out like I hoped? (Implication: I’ve wasted my time, effort and money.)
  • What if I give a client bad advice? (Implication: The client fires me and tells everyone in the community what a bad person and advisor I am.)

If questions like these are standing between you and your success, stop asking such lousy questions and try these four steps instead.

1. Ask better questions.
Maybe you’re focusing on the wrong “bad” things. The consequences of not asking for referrals and following up are much greater than the worst-case scenario your imagination can conjure up. Instead of focusing on all the bad things that might happen if you do what needs to be done, ask yourself what will happen if you don’t do it. Here’s one answer: You’ll end up being mediocre. Which is worse: being mediocre or dealing with the discomfort required to be successful?

Mark Allen, the six-time Ironman triathlon world champion, asks the question, “Are you willing to do the work that the goal requires?” If you’re not succeeding at the level you really want, you might want to spend some time thinking about that question. If you want to be a successful financial advisor—someone who has the right number of ideal clients to generate enough gross business revenue to live the life you want—are you willing to do what it takes?

2. Give yourself empowering answers.
As long as you’re talking to yourself, why not focus on the positive? What are some amazing, incredible, fantastic things that could happen? What might happen when you consistently and effectively ask for referrals and follow up? What might happen when you have the right staff doing the right things? What might happen when you make that investment in your most valuable asset—yourself?

3. Stop making excuses.
It’s amazing how often I hear advisors say, “That successful person was just in the right place at the right time.” No, the truth is that nearly every successful person has worked hard and taken uncomfortable actions consistently and diligently over a long enough period of time to become successful today. Stop making excuses and choose to face the uncomfortable situations that will lead to your success. Instead of criticizing the people who have become successful, choose to do the work and join them.

4. Make it a habit to choose discomfort.
The next time you find yourself avoiding something just because it’s uncomfortable, do it anyway.
Practice choosing discomfort. It will eventually come more naturally to you, and the results will inspire you.
This applies to both personal and business decisions. Have you been putting off a preventive or diagnostic medical procedure because you know it will be uncomfortable? Have you been avoiding a personal issue or uncomfortable conversation? Schedule that doctor’s appointment, mammogram or colonoscopy. Visit that friend in the hospital. Talk to that family member about how you really feel. Join the gym and go work out, even if you don’t look perfect in your shorts! Yes, these things may be uncomfortable, but do them anyway. Practice choosing discomfort. It will eventually come more naturally to you and the results will inspire you.

Here’s the bottom line. To become an even more successful financial advisor, you’re going to have to do things that are uncomfortable. Don’t let discomfort be the deciding factor in determining what you do or what you avoid doing. If you’re going to do anything significant in life, you must push past the discomfort. In doing so, you’ll also set a great example for people around you and earn their trust and respect. Don’t be a salesperson. Be a Trusted Advisor.

© Bill Bachrach, Bachrach & Associates. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Bill Bachrach is the author of four industry books, including It’s All About Them: How Trusted Advisors Listen for Success. For information about his speaking services, The Trusted Advisor Coach program, 3-Day Values-Based Selling Academy or other resources (including a free Trusted Financial Advisor e-newsletter), call 800-347-3707 or visit



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