The Wisdom and Potential Profit in Self-Awareness
Updated: Aug 30
Successful investing, and success at most anything in life can be a mix of skills, luck, relationships, timing, and a variety of situational variables.
I believe we are all born with unique skills and abilities. Our family environment provides the initial structure or not. As youngsters, we recognize we have differing personal interests.
Schooling provides information for our consumption. Putting your schooling to work in real life situations will sew the seeds of knowledge. It requires experience and often one or more humbling events to acquire wisdom.
It has been more than 30 years since I entered the financial industry after my university education. I have been humbled during that timeframe for sure. When I discuss success with other entrepreneurs, they always have stories about obstacles they overcame and learned from. In those stories, there is a common thread of being humbled and the power gained.
The business greats I know are self-aware and open to the possibility their view on a topic may be incorrect. They recognize they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t shrink from, but enthusiastically solicit, criticism or being challenged.
Ego can be very destructive. The fear of being “wrong” or viewed negatively, may lead to people not asking important questions or expressing opinions only because they are popular.
Ego can present an interesting dynamic when I meet a potential client. When asked questions, their answers can be evasive or attempting to impress me with what they know. These are red flags for me. They are not learning about our firm when they are bragging about their financial “acumen”. I’m very forthright, candid, and expect the same from others.
An open and curious mind is a green flag for me. In my process, I use a “Bias Exercise” with every potential client. Clients may remember the “Positive”, “Negative” “Neutral” exercise in which I ask for a gut reaction to a variety of different financial instruments.
There’s no such thing as a positive or negative financial instrument, so this exercise is very insightful for me. We are not born with biases; they arise through experiences; good and bad. If a person’s bias conflicts with a strategy in that person’s best interest, will they set aside their ego and remain open-minded and seek the truth? You may be surprised how many cannot do this. It does make it easier for me to suggest our firm may not be a good match.
Next moves? Be curious. Ask questions. Listen actively. Appreciate questions and criticism.