I’m a dad, and I don’t know too many other dads that don’t have a particular way of motivating their kids. In our family, we tend to use phrases that we all understand the meaning of, yet those outside the family often do not. My father taught me this approach, and when I was drifting, he would tell me to “remember the 749.” By drifting, it could be around homework or practice for baseball or soccer.
So, what does that mean? Well, it’s the Spring of 1944. Ike and his generals are working on the plans for D-Day. We all know the story of June 6 and the Greatest Generation. But few know about Operation Tiger – sometimes known as Exercise Tiger. This was a series of extensive rehearsals for D-Day. Several months earlier, on April 28, the men of VII Corps were on the friendly shores of England practicing and preparing for the assault on Utah Beach. The Germans had stumbled on the practice site and attacked. 749 men died while practicing for the event that would inevitably turn the tide on the Western Front. The troops had very little protection that day from warships, as they did not expect to be discovered and attacked. There they were, preparing, practicing, and learning. 749 American lives lost, the event was kept very quiet, as not to give away the June plans.
My dad knew that I wanted to do better, so I had to practice my craft. To motivate me, he’d remind me of the 749. It was his way of telling me I could always be better and do better and not let my ego get in the way; that I needed to be humble and practice. This advice went hand-in-hand with one of his other motivators: “practice as you play.” To this day, thinking about the 749 still inspires, uplifts, and motivates me. It reminds me of my father in a very good way.
So as an advisor, what can you gain and implement from this piece of history?
One way that I put this into action is by practicing more when I’m prepping webinars and presentations. I even do a day-of run-through, making any final, last-minute adjustments. I have a few other suggestions about how you can make use of this advice.
Commit to learning and sharing with younger team members
As we learn and gain experience, we tend to lean on it, which often slows our growth. During our early days in the business, we looked at veterans of the biz and struggled to understand why they don’t adapt to the “new.” But now, the tables are turned. As we become the veterans, we look at the young as just that, youthful and inexperienced. They don’t get it like we do.
What if we consistently flipped the paradigm? It’s not unusual for the young to regularly look to vets to learn and grow from their experience. What if we look to the young to learn and grow from their energy and eagerness to try new things? It’s probably normal for us to look to younger colleagues for help with computer or other tech issues. But I think only seeing their value in a tech realm is selling them short. We know that younger advisors frequently work with younger clientele, and there is plenty of knowledge to be gained from understanding how younger clients view their financial futures. It’s never too late to open these conversations and begin to implement what you learn into your client acquisition approach.
(Related: Webinar: How to be Memorable )
With years in the business, it can be challenging to look at new employees and think they may teach you. But you were there once. Think back to what helped you grow, stay in the biz, and become a vet. When was the last time you pulled aside a young upcoming advisor and asked them to share what they are doing while feeding off their energy from the new ways they are learning?
Learn & Practice
What about your schedule? Do you book a weekly time to practice or learn a new product or approach? The people in this business, who are really at the pinnacle of the field, NEVER STOP LEARNING! Not only do they continue learning, but it’s something they’ve learned to love. They love it like they love any new challenge and embrace finding a way to implement their new knowledge in a way that moves the needle.
When was the last time you sat down and roleplayed a new approach? Although practicing a financial or insurance solution presentation is not a deadly event like Operation Tiger, it is undoubtedly a serious matter for all involved. Practice, roleplay, learn the new, feed off the energy of the young, and grow. Then rinse and repeat!
We all know the sports analogies. Golf superstars are sinking that putt an extra 100 times before calling it a day. NBA icons are shooting an additional 100 free throws before practice even starts. All professional athletes plan and practice; the superstars go the extra mile.
Why do we shy away from practicing? Pride? Time? Experience because we have done it before and have been doing it for so long?
I can never say it enough; all the coaches I know have coaches. People we admire for their abilities and persistence, and excellence not only have coaches and mentors, but they practice ad nauseum.
Find the time, make the time, and don’t compromise the time in the name of something more urgent or important. Learning and practicing will be what helps you help others accomplish significant, meaningful, and critical things.
And on those days when you want to cancel that time you scheduled for practicing or learning –Remember the 749.