by Tony Vidler
An adviser told me that they wanted to be “great”…a GREAT adviser. My immediate thought was would you prefer being considered “great” to having a great business, because you might be able to have both, but then, you might not either. Then I thought “isn’t it healthier and far more enjoyable to feel great about yourself and what you are doing“?
Being great comes at a price. In fact it comes with many costs along the way I’d venture to suggest. So is being great worth it? Or is feeling great about where you are at and how your life is working a better thing to focus upon?
It’s hard to figure out whether “being great” is worth it without understanding what “being great” is. Being a sports lover I got to thinking about “what makes a champion?” because that is where I most frequently see greatness as it evolves. Let’s be blunt, we are lacking statesmen, business & political leadership globally that looks like it is on track for greatness, so it’s easier to stick with sportspeople when it comes to considering greatness. It helps that sportspeople ply their craft in the most publicly visible way and virtually every aspect of their performance and preparation is revealed to we mere mortals.
In professional services we often talk about focus, technical expertise, sales skills, work ethic or activity levels and marketing nous as being some of the key areas that make for an elite, or champion, adviser. We can add in a host of personal ingredients such as integrity, faith, belief, positivity and so forth of course. These all contribute to becoming a very successful practitioner and having a great career, but is that the same as becoming a “champion”? Is it the same as achieving personal greatness in our professional field?
A champion, in professional terms, isn’t necessarily the person with the best practice or business (however you define “best”). That might be true, but it isn’t necessarily so. Being a champion seems to me to be a recognition of undisputed individual excellence in one’s chosen field. So I wondered, what characteristics and traits are common amongst champions in highly competitive sports where the challenge is absolutely individual? Where it is “you” versus the best the world can throw at you. Where there are no second chances really. The requirement is to deliver premium performance on demand.
Olympians are the best athletes in the world – they are all elite – but not all of those elite Olympian athletes become champions. According to the scientists who actually study this stuff (as opposed to the armchair assessor like myself) here are the psychological traits which separate the champions from their elite competitors:
Characteristics of Champions
Source: Psychological characteristics and their development in Olympic champions. Gould, D., Diffenback, K., & Moffett, A. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14, 172-204.
As a checklist for areas of personal development I cannot think of anything better than this if one did want to become a true champion, particularly as there is nothing on that list which a non-athlete couldn’t work upon. So if greatness is your aspiration then those are the areas for development as those attributes appear to be just as applicable to being a great adviser, a great athlete…..a great anything actually.
There is one thing I would add to the list though:
That is a further differentiator between those who become champions, and those who are elite or even those who are average.
Allow me to say that there is nothing wrong with aspiring to be elite, as opposed to being the champion. There is nothing wrong with being average either. It comes down to what matters most in your life, and business or professional standing may well be a long way down the list of important things.
That’s ok. Live your life according to your values and what matters most to you.
But don’t kid yourself either. If it is greatness you are after then accept the price which must be paid to achieve it. If you don’t wish to pay that price, then simply get very clear about price you are willing to pay as that will definitely help settle the question as to whether being employee somewhere, or running your own little lifestyle business is best, or achieving commercial fame is the right choice for you.
Being great is not necessarily the goal. But feeling great about how you are doing certainly is I suspect.