The Essential Ingredient for Exceptional Success

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Dan Richards

Advisors often ask me what they have to do to truly excel.  They expect an answer based on their value proposition, the prospective clients they focus on, how effectively they get in front of those prospects, or their discipline and work ethic.

A talk I attended last fall provided a clear cut – and surprising – answer.

Bouncing back from setbacks

In the past decade, Israel has emerged as a hotbed of high-tech startups. In November, I attended a talk by the academic director of Technion Israel Institute of Technology, a university that has played a critical role in the growth of that country’s tech sector. He discussed a research study in which successful entrepreneurs were asked to identify the single quality most important to their success, from a list of 20 candidates.

The overwhelming first choice was resilience – the ability to bounce back from adversity and withstand setbacks. As an entrepreneur, you can have everything going for you, but if you’re unable to deal with the inevitable disappointment and bumps in the road that every start-up encounters, your odds of real success plummet.

And that ability to cope with unexpected reversals is just as important when it comes to financial advisors who aspire to build exceptional businesses. Even if you’ve done everything else right, if you don’t have the conviction and discipline to tough your way through discouragement and setbacks, you won’t hit your full potential.

Strategies to build resilience

I saw the importance of resilience first hand at a roundtable with highly successful advisors that I facilitated a couple of years back. One topic was how they’d coped with setbacks on their path to success. In every case, these individuals identified points early in their careers where they’d run into major disappointments, whether these related to existing or prospective clients, investment solutions that blew up or unexpected problems at their firms.  And in every case, these advisors described how they’d had to dig deep to find the energy and will to overcome those disappointments.

At one time, there was a view that the ability to bounce back from setbacks is innate – you either have it or you don’t. Research over the past 20 years has shown that, while some people do have inherently greater levels of resilience, there are a number of strategies proven to increase the capacity to deal with disappointment: