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Publication: The Trusted Financial Advisor
Date: June 2008

WOW! What a Difference Getting in the Pool Makes

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to avoid doing the very things we know will get us the results we say we want? Have you ever avoided doing something you knew was absolutely necessary, but had no idea why you were avoiding it? Me too.

In every endeavor, there are certain immutable requirements or "natural laws" of success. Yet sometimes, in attempts to avoid discomfort or achieve our goals with less effort or anxiety, we spend too much time and energy hoping to flout those laws. But it can't, won't, simply doesn't work. That's why they're called laws. Break them and you lose.

You might know that in December of 1997 I began training for the 1998 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, which was held on October 3, 1998. Nine to 10 months is not a long time to prepare for a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2- mile marathon run. But it's achievable if you create a good plan and stick to it.

Swimming has never been my strength, and I hadn't been in the pool in a decade. The rest of my training program started out pretty well. I began running again by steadily building up my mileage. I pulled my bike off the hooks in the garage where it had been hanging upside down for a long time, dusted it off, got it tuned up, and began riding. I even started pumping iron twice a week to build my strength. But the swimming ...

December passed, then January, and by February, I knew I was behind in my swimming program. I'd heard that 70% of being a good swimmer is technique, so I bought a swimming technique book. Next I bought the swimming video. (Could I really have been foolish enough to think I could read and watch my way through the Ironman swim? Or was my judgment clouded by pure and simple denial?) By the end of February, I had still managed to avoid getting wet. I then enrolled in a swim clinic being held the last weekend in March. No point getting in the water until I learned the proper technique!

With this twisted logic, we could say it's too bad the clinic wasn't even further off - or even after Ironman - maybe I could have gotten by with no swimming at all. Yeah, right! Are there activities you don't enjoy or aren't the best at, yet which are absolutely required for you to excel at a higher level? And which you delude yourself into thinking you could put off altogether?

How about ...

  • making more calls to Referrals and Clients?
  • risking rejection or failure?
  • hiring another staff person?
  • asking for Referrals?
  • working on your Client interview skills?
  • converting a transaction-oriented business into full- service financial planning?
  • making the transition from commissions to fees?
  • investing more money in marketing?
  • becoming a more competent financial professional?

Consider yourself lucky if you have people in your life who point out when you are behaving ineffectively - especially when your rationalizing mind is at its creative best, letting you off the hook in whatever area(s) are challenging for you. Fortunate for me, I have this kind of friend in Mark Allen, the six-time Hawaii Ironman champion. In the first week of March, I was helping him work on his presentation skills for his motivational speaking career when he asked about my training. I gave him the full report about my running progress, cycling development, and weight training regimen. I rambled on about my diet and tried to distract him with a few questions, hoping he wouldn't notice I'd left out the swimming part.

But his question was inevitable: "So, how's the swimming going?" So much for my fancy footwork.

"Uh, well ... I've been reading this book and, uh, watching this video about proper technique. And I'm signed up for a swim clinic." I smiled weakly.

"Great. How's it going in the pool?"

Caught, I gave it up. "I haven't actually been in the pool yet."

"You know, Bill," Mark said slowly and pointedly, "you really should get in the pool." Duh! The simple truth has amazing power. Just hearing Mark utter those words shattered my avoidance behavior pattern. Mark was right. I had to get in the pool. Not in March. Not next week. Now. Today.

Ultimately, learning better technique and attending the swim clinic did make me a better swimmer. But they could not replace the lost workouts in the pool. Likewise, you are successful now and have an even higher level of success to achieve. And you probably already know exactly what you need to do to achieve your next level. But you may be putting yourself through mental gymnastics to avoid the very things that will take you where you want to go. The sooner you get in the pool, the sooner you will be on your way to your next level of success.

Surely you recognize that fighting nature is futile. You're not going to receive a special exemption, nor will the success gods reveal a secret shortcut. Just get in the pool. Come on in! The water's fine.

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