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Zen and the Art of Financial Advising

Zen and the Art of Financial Advising

During my senior year at Stanford in 1978 I remember taking a class – Sports and Society. Yeah, it was one of those “Mickey Mouse” classes. You remember those, right? I think every college had them and probably still does. When you had a particularly heavy class load you would fit in a class that provided a few units while not requiring a boat load of study time. However, this “Mick”, as we called those types of classes, was interesting and quite thought provoking and since I was an athlete I gave it more value than I would a typical “easy” course (not that I made a habit of scheduling those, of course). As a side note, one of the guest instructors was Dave Meggyesy, a one-time St. Louis Cardinal Football player and author of “Out of Their League” a critical look at the drug culture and brutality of the NFL back in the 1960’s. Needless to say, the topics ran far and wide.

Another one of the books we had to read was “Zen in the Art of Archery”. I’m not sure if you can still find a copy. It was all about the power of the mind when it comes to athletic performance. In great detail it described how the Japanese archer could pull the impossibly tight string on a giant bow and send the arrow flying toward its target with focused breathing and intense concentration.

John Brodie, the great quarterback of the 49ers in the 1960’s, wrote an article describing how he used to visualize every aspect of the game before he actually played it and how certain plays unfolded just as he imagined them. He described throwing the ball and how it seemed to skip over the outstretched arms of the defender into the hands of its intended receiver.

So while putting the power of the mind to use is not a new concept, it is one that is more often than not a concept that is relegated to sport and often overlooked especially in business. The reality is that the same benefits can be derived in our business just as they are on the athletic field.

There was a research study conducted in 2011 at the Institute of Sports Science at the Justus Liebig University Giessen in Germany. They compared five different groups of people. The first group did 100% of a training program physically, the next group did 75% of training physically and 25% of the training visually, the third group did 50% physically and 50% mentally, the fourth group did 25% physically and 75% mentally, and the last group did not train.

The results were dramatic. There was only a small difference in physical improvement between the group doing 100% of the training in the gym and the group doing only 25% of the work in the gym and 75% of the training through visualization. The groups spent the same amount of time “training” whether it was in the gym or through visualization. Pretty incredible, don’t you think?

Most people don’t want to believe that the mind truly has a significant impact on the direction of their lives. Here is an exercise for you to undertake for the next 30 days to decide for yourself. Take a few minutes when you first awake in the morning or just before you fall asleep. Visualize the kind of day you want to have. Focus on what you want to happen versus what you don’t want to happen. Your mind doesn’t care. This concept can work against you just as it can for you. Plant positive thoughts and actions! It has been proven that your subconscious mind is most receptive during these times.

Focus on attracting new clients, being a great partner to your branches, a confident and trusting advisor to your clients. See it and feel it. Picture yourself achieving the things that will come with your success. Soon this will become a habit and your actions will match your thoughts i.e. you will walk your talk and thoughts.