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Two Ways New Financial Advisors Can Cope with Failure (first in a 2 part series)

In my past few posts to new financial advisors I wrote that you should not blame yourself if you find this business is not all that you had expected.  I also wrote a piece on getting your emotional game in line before you attempt the numbers game.  I feel that I can’t do this latter issue enough justice, so I’m writing on it again today.


Your emotions come from the heart.  Why does a failed case send you into a tailspin?  When a client who loved you last week does not return your calls this week, why do you freak out about not having enough money in the pipeline?  If you are running behind on your production schedule, why do you lose sleep over it?  These fears strike at the very core of our identity sometimes.  When a deal that was “in the bag” suddenly dries up, you could interpret that as your not being good enough to save the deal.  That somehow it is a shortcoming on your part.  You may have internalized the failure.  Or, you could blame the prospect for being a flake.  After all, you did your part of the bargain.


I have seen many new financial advisors internalize failure.  I tend to do this myself.  Somehow I should have been smart enough, good enough, fast enough or fill-in-the-blank enough to get the prospect to close the deal.   It is great to learn from failure, but there’s a danger in blaming yourself as you could become paralyzed with self-doubt or feelings of inadequacy.  If you give these feelings time to take root, your business is doomed.


On the other end of the spectrum are the new financial advisors who externalize failure — it is someone else’s fault.  While these individuals typically do not learn much from failure, they are not paralyzed by it either.  In their minds the prospect is always the one causing the problem — the prospect got cold feet, the prospect didn’t turn in the paperwork, the prospect got too busy to return calls.  Again, externalizing can be a healthy way to respond to a setback in your sales efforts, but I have also seen this mindset bleed over to interpersonal dynamics with fellow team members (The other guy is the problem; there is nothing wrong with me), but I’ll save this item for a post at a later time.


The most important thing that you can do with failure is to learn from it but not dwell on it (much easier said than done for those analytical-thinker types out there).  Failure must be framed in your head as something that polishes you, not something that drains you.  It adds to your repertoire for the next prospect meeting.  This is the school of transactions.  You learn by doing.  Managing your emotions is a choice that we make day by day and hour by hour.  The better you get at this skill, the better you’ll become in all aspects of your life.