Great Intentions Won’t Move You Toward What You Want


Great intentions are a super place to start, but if you don’t take action, intentions alone won’t move you toward what you want. Worse, they will continually frustrate you.

  • Commit to taking action on one idea at a time.
  • Imagine the results of completing this action.
  • Break the big idea into incremental steps, and get going on the first step!

Related: Success Is About the Quantity, Not the Volume


Why do we always bite off more than we can chew and get nowhere?

So often that’s the case with advisors. Advisors have so many great ideas, but then, understandably, get frustrated when they try to implement a number of them at once and then simply put those ideas in the “too-hard basket”, start procrastinating and move on, while they continue to live a life of frustration. . .

One of the reasons I love working with the advisors in our [Ash Brokerage] Fiduciary Foundations course and in our Business Building Blocks course is because they’re actually taking action on a single item! They’re actually taking one single idea and looking at the steps involved in implementing and mastering it. Over two to four weeks they start taking action, and they come back with great results.

Advisors are super-smart, intelligent people and, understandably, will become incredibly frustrated, however, if they can’t see any progress happening. Last week I mentioned a great research paper done by Dan Chambliss, mentioning about the mundanity of excellence. He was talking about the fact that to succeed—to really master something—requires us to look at the small steps involved and get excited about mastering those, believing that will lead to excellence in the longer term, to our achieving our goals.

I’ve heard from a number of advisors who asked me, with the Olympics coming up, can you share some about Olympic training as well as advising? That’s exactly what I want to do today.

When you look up mundane in the dictionary, mundane means common, ordinary, or unimaginative. Oftentimes we associate that with insignificant, with something boring, but that’s not the case. In Dan Chambliss’ article, he mentions a swimmer that I knew well (I trained with her), Mary T. Meagher, who held the women’s world record in the 100 and 200 meters butterfly. She says, “People don’t know how ordinary success is.” People don’t know how ordinary success is. She won three Olympic gold medals, and she goes on to talk about doing the basics thoroughly.

“Excellence is mundane. Superlative performance is really a confluence of dozens of small skills or activities, each one learned or stumbled upon, which have been carefully drilled into habit and then are fitted together in a synthesized whole.”

And that’s exactly the situation. So for instance, when I was training for the 1988 Olympics, I knew I had to build up my legs; I had to strengthen my kick. So what we did—my coach and I—was to have me wear a pair of shoes, which is really heavy on your legs, and after a while, my legs got stronger with my kick. The problem was we wanted them even stronger. So what I did then was put a band around my knees, keep the shoes on, and after about five minutes, your legs going numb. And it’s very difficult to kick, but you learn to persevere. And so I knew that coming off the third turn, in that Olympic final, I was going to be prepared for that. I was going to be able to streamline thoroughly, have a strong kick, and come home super strongly. So how do you stay streamlined? Well, most people would think you just put your hand beside your hand, and for most people in the water, that would seem like a tight streamline. But it’s not sufficient: if you’re tired, you can bend your elbows down, which creates a lot of drag. You’ve got to change to placing one hand on top of the other; that’s the correct streamline. So no matter how tired you get, your elbows are going to stay locked in place. That’s practiced very specifically. Each of those pieces I’ve described to you is simple in and of itself. Anyone can do those parts. Anyone can put those things together, but most won’t. Most won’t break them down into incremental items.

So for you as the advisor, here’s what you need to do over the next several weeks as your objective. I showed you this a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what’s involved: you simply take an envelope, take a compliments slip, take a business card, take a paper clip, put them together. They come out looking like that. On a Friday afternoon, you do that ten times; you make ten of these. So, come Monday, you send two of these each day, Monday to Friday, to two of your clients, being ten for the whole week, forty for the month. You do that over a quarter—just two a day—that’s 120 clients you’ve reached with something that’s of interest to them and showing them that they are top of mind for you, as their advisor. It’s super simple! But when I check back with many advisors, they haven’t done a thing. They haven’t taken action. This isn’t rocket science, and you can do it.

Why am I a huge advocate for doing the small things well? Because if you do the small things well over time—day in, day out, week in, week out, year in, year out—does it pay off? I think so, because relative to the Olympic games, this [Olympic medal] is what taking care of the details looks like. Relative to you as an advisor, looking after your top 120 clients—maybe that’s all the clients you need to look after them thoroughly—means you’ll have a phenomenally performing business.


  1. Commit to one idea!

  2. Imagine the results. What is it going to feel like when you have 120 clients, over the course of four months, receiving a nice connecting piece from you?

  3. Do the first step: pick up the paper clip, get your business card, get the compliments slip, grab an envelope, put it together. There’s your kit.

Get to it, succeed sooner, and I guarantee you will feel exactly the same way when you are hearing feedback from these thrilled clients that I did when I got this medal.

I look forward to bringing you another Distraction-Proof Advisor Idea next week.