You can’t turn on the television news or read the newspaper and not be faced with a story about the global economic crisis. News of bank and financial firm meltdowns, foreclosures, toxic debt, tanking markets and record unemployment are everywhere. Listening to that all day, every day, can raise anxiety levels and make people believe there is no hope.
I remember when I was in the Marine Corps, one of the things we used to say all the time was that the battle is not lost or won on the battlefield; battles are lost and won in the minds of men and women. You’ve got to be mentally tough to succeed at any endeavor – be it a crisis or your everyday life. That’s true today more than ever, especially in the industry that we are in. Sure, you absolutely have to be aware of what’s going on in the financial world out there, but you can’t let all that negativity get into your head and affect you, your business and your team.
As WFG women and men, and particularly as leaders in our company, we can’t think what everybody else thinks. And I don’t. I believe for our industry, our company and what we do for families, this is the perfect time. Fear sharpens listening. I’m personally finding that people are more receptive to what we stand for than ever before. All of the financial fundamentals that we’ve always taught families – the need to save and budget, to live beneath their means, to protect their families and to take steps to plan for their financial futures – and the basic financial education we’ve been dedicated to bringing them have always been necessary. But when people are doing well and in a comfortable position in their lives, they don’t want to hear it. They don’t think they need to get their financial house in order.
The same goes for the recruiting side of our business. While our business opportunity is a good fit for many people when they first hear about it, other people might pass on becoming WFG women and men because they’re happy with their jobs and do not want to make a move. But I’ve found that today, more people want to hear our story and learn what our company is about. I see people, industry people and people from all different backgrounds, coming back to our corporate overviews who first came by a couple of years ago and now want to take a second look at us. People who may have been laid off now may really understand a key point about our business opportunity – there is no real job security when your company could decide at any moment to downsize or let you go. Many people are realizing that entrepreneurship, while it has its challenges, is the place they want to be, so they can call their own shots and make an income based on their efforts, not business politics.
The leader who is motivating his team by reminding them that now is one of the best times for our business, that people out there really need what we offer – whether its getting a financial education, getting their financial house in order or looking for a business opportunity – is the leader who can make this a great time for his team, his business and his clients. To help your team, your clients and your business succeed, now is the time when you have to reach deep down and truly be the best leader you can be. Dedicate yourself to the basics of leadership.
A question you have to ask yourself as a leader is, “Who motivates the motivator?” The answer is the motivator needs to be self-motivated. One of the keys to mental toughness, motivation and success is controlling your thoughts. I am very conscious of the messages I let into my mind and what I think about. I tell my team all the time that if you’re focusing on your fears rather than focusing on your dreams, that is what you will manifest in your life. Some people get up in the morning and focus on the negative. They think about all of the things going wrong in their lives and all of their fears and worries. I believe the more you allow negative thoughts to fill your head, the more you invite the very things you fear the most into your life. On the other hand, if you keep your dreams bigger than your fears, you’ll have a better chance of accomplishing them.
If you want to have an extraordinary life, you need to have extraordinary thinking. You need to elevate your thinking. It’s your responsibility as a leader to elevate your team’s thinking. You’ve got to make sure you are reading the right books, listening to the right motivating messages and surrounding yourself with the right mentors: five people who are where you want to be over the next five years. You need to personally do what you expect your team to do. The leader sets the pace of the team. I know I set an example to my team by the time I arrive at the office, by the number of calls I make, the number of appointments I have, the number of personal guests I bring to a corporate overview, the number of families I personally help, my attitude, my health and how I handle myself. I know my actions speak louder than my words. Leaders set the standard and the energy for their team, and this is a time when leaders truly need to lead from the front.
You have to understand the timing and opportunity that is before all of us right now. Our industry was built on turbulent times and has withstood the ebbs and flows of the economy because people need what we do. When I first started in the financial services industry in the late 1990s, the market was exploding and then quickly took a downturn in the early 2000s. What got me and our team through that time was not letting the negativity get to us. We continued to do business as aggressively as we always had. The real business we’re in is the dream business. WFG women and men are in the business of helping people changes their lives either through instituting a financial strategy or starting a business with us and moving toward where they want to go in life. We need to have faith in our approach to educating people about financial concepts and making them understand it’s not a sprint but a long-distance run. If the people we serve understand the financial fundamentals and the benefits and risks to any approach, they, too, may see their glass as half full rather than half empty, and be committed to making changes today that could change their lives and embrace opportunities that may lie ahead.
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