Being Prepared to Change Your Thinking
“What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end” – Warren Buffett
Given that we are thirteen years since the GFC and over thirty years since the 1987 stock market crash, many will be conditioned to a set of perspectives and practices that have, until now, stood the test of time. But, will this thinking and approach be confirmed in a new world? Will the hot streak of decision-making be sustainable?
Now is when you and your clients may have to make fundamental changes to your decision-making, the assumptions used, how you value assets, and your attitude to debt. Given that there will be new facts and deep structural shifts of seismic proportions, there may need to be changes in strategy and tactics with the new factual situation.
For instance, is there any point in doubling down on business activity or investment that is fatally flawed or buying into a trend with no long-term future? A big worry is the debt levels people are carrying against falling asset values or income streams that may not continue to exist.
All of us are anchored to the knowledge of prior success and may be resistant to change. Some of the anchored fog may be caused by the emotional triggers of anxiety. On the flip side, the more visionary and creative people backed into a corner may be looking to make a switch that is not realistic. That may be a step they have got away with in high growth times. Nevertheless, a change of thinking and decision-making approach will be important.
As you prepare to guide your clients, have you considered your and the clients Anchoring Bias and Adaptability Quotient?
Build an Enhanced Relationship to Money
“Remember that money itself does not care or have emotions when markets shift up or down. However, you do. Therefore, your perspectives on how money serves in your life are fundamental to your reactions and level of anxiety.”
So many people define their life value by how much money they have. Their level of abundance is measured in terms of wealth. The problem is that when downturns come and reduce the wealth, does that mean their worth as a human has been cut down? Thinking like this can cause much needless stress.
In these stormy seasons, this is the time to start engaging clients in conversations about the emotional side of money. These discussions will help the client to reframe their relationship with money.
- What does money mean to them?
- What role does money play in their life?
- What is significant about money?
- How does money impact their relationships?
Continuing not to talk about the emotional side of money will be denying the client the ability to deal with serious financial issues that are causing them concern. They will not have the skills or the narrative to address their beliefs about work, success, survival, recreation, health, giving, and community.
Such conversations will be getting to the core of your client’s life, given that their relationship to money is so inextricably tied to who they are. The key is that the client must first clarify their identity as human beings. Once that is uncovered, the money conversation will become more straightforward.
As a coach or advisor, you must be prepared to get your relationship with money in order before you can meaningfully guide the client through that conversation.
Are you ready to navigate the meaning of money in your life? Do you feel equipped to stretch your traditional boundaries and have these conversations with clients?
Help Your Clients to See Their Future Reality Now
“Keep the clients visualizing their future and focused on their goals-based plan for building a Quality Life.”
It is easy for people to start talking doom and gloom in downturns. The downturn does not mean all is lost. At most, it will be a temporary setback or disruption. Instead, there is a future for your clients to look forward to. The main thing is to foster realistic optimism. If the plans you have designed with the client are sound and have built-in a downturn strategy, there is no reason for panic. Of course, this will depend on the “floors” put into the plan and the overall risk management.
Given the assumption that a sound foundational plan was developed, the key is to hold your nerve and re-educate the client on the steps taken by communicating on their terms. Get them to revisit the visuals of their planned future as that always helps focus and energy management. Then, show them what the temporary impact is.
Depending on the plan design and the severity of the downturn impact, some tactics may need to be changed. Do not be afraid to bring new thinking to the plan (whether it be a business or financial plan).
Your job is to boost their confidence and prevent self-destructive behavior.
Have you re-reviewed the client’s goals and plans to ensure they work in a severe downturn? What adjustments do you need to make to keep them on track?
Ensure Your Clients Fully Understand Their Decisions
“People will stress less when they understand their decisions and have been educated with scenario analysis.”
For the last twenty-five years, my whole existence has been helping people become more self-empowered. Too often, I have seen people make decisions they do not understand. Sometimes, they have blindly followed the advice given by someone or acted independently based on following the herd.
Investing in the plethora of cryptocurrencies would be a good recent example. In other cases, I have seen people lured into businesses they do not fully understand the dynamics of. Many other topics include following faulty legal, tax, and accounting strategies.
For sure, a downturn will expose everything wrong. The problem is that the client’s reactions will be far more negative when they do not understand why they made the initial decision. Before clients decide to unravel a strategy, be sure you and the client fully understand what is going on. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Also, do not be afraid to take a pass on a new strategy or opportunity you do not understand.
So, now with the downturn, the clients must be empowered as key players in the decision-making process. They must be fully involved; otherwise, they will feel unsafe and always have anxiety. If you know they do not fully understand the strategy, it is best to keep them out of it.
Are you prepared to help your clients take stock of the decision-making to date so there is some level setting on their understanding? Then, are you prepared to start educating your clients more to participate in future decision-making so they are self-empowered fully?
Build Strategies to Anti-Fragile the Future
“Going forward, build “antifragility” plans for unexpected events.”
In 2019, my sixth sense told me firmly that a shockwave was coming. I could not rationalize where the global markets were positioned when doing my long-term forecasting. I started taking steps to diversify my businesses with revenue streams not dependent on one product or market. So, if one product or market got disrupted, there would still be alternative revenue streams from which the business could grow. Also, for the organizations I was an advisor to or on the board, I began to recommend strategies for building foundations to generate new uncorrelated revenue streams.
We have just gone through two highly disruptive years caused by the 2020 Pandemic, which had unforeseen consequences. While I did not know the pandemic would suddenly come the way it did. The point is it suddenly came.
Antifragility planning is about intentionally putting in place strategies that enable the business to potentially get stronger in the face of extreme stressors, chaos and disorder. Rather, than just being resilient and dealing with disruption, the experience is used to improve and grow.
As a business or financial advisor, it would help your clients manage their anxiety if you could guide them to see ways to build new ways to generate income and create wealth. Such an approach will help deal with permanent losses from a redundant business model or a career path that is suddenly ended. I am talking about being far more structural than covering six months or more of costs.
Have you started to consider the long-term trends from here? How can you guide your clients to think about future possibilities that they can capitalize on?
Showing Up as a New World Leader
“A crisis requires leaders to have the confidence to take swift action to adapt to the new reality quickly, and at the same time demonstrate compassion in all of their dealings.”
In the spirit of over-communication, I will reiterate that you need to ensure the business (or even the family) leader is mentally prepared to deal with the perfect storm as a coach or advisor. The leader cannot act like a “deer in headlights.” To make their team and clients feel safe, they will need to feel safe themselves. The safety will come from knowing there is a clear strategy and a plan. For the team and clients, it will be communicating with belief.
Some behavior and money energy points for you to help leaders remember are:
- The leader is empowered with identity and money clarity. How the leader desires to show up in the future must start being acted out now;
- If a second-in-command is not in place already, then get one. The article: “A Time-Tested Strategy For Leaders Facing a Perfect Storm” shows in a crisis that this role is very valuable for helping keep calmness and sensibility in the team.
- Knowing the core go-forward team is intact and engaged is crucial. Do not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” That may mean financially re-engineering the business and changing the workplace operating structure with a re-defined hybrid model. Some in-person meetings and office time are beneficial for collaboration and alignment, which will be critical for navigating the storm.
- Notwithstanding the desire to maintain workforce stability, the leader will need to review the functionality of all roles in the business against the go-forward strategy and metrics.
- If anyone has to leave, handle that with care because this will show the continuing team that the leader has deep compassion.
- The opportunity to upscale the business’s talent pool at a lower price will come. So, again, look at where the right talent will fit.
- The leader must continuously show they care for the team and clients. Random acts of kindness and encouragement will create lasting memories and overall happiness.
- Build a high-performance culture based on clarity of strategy, visibility and fairness of goals, and accountability.
- Focusing on the team’s continued mental and physical health will be necessary. That starts with the leadership.
- Start to “Play Bigger” as laid out in the book by Al Ramadan et al. Differentiating the market positioning of the business from its competitors is vital. The storm may mean changing tack and making an adaptation.
- Appreciate that some of the clients may show up differently during a crisis. Even some may not be suitable for the business long-term based on profitability and otherwise not being ideal.
- The decisions made now may transcend into the long-term future of the business. Therefore, it is essential to avoid the “Decision Cascade Syndrome” when one bad decision causes a series of many bad ones to patch up the fundamental problem caused.
If you want some great business tactics to inspire confidence, I would recommend reading the article by Pete Flint of NFX.com called “39 Moves to Survive (and Thrive) in a Downturn, 2022 Edition."
Conclusion: Increasing Money Energy to Navigate Financial Stress
“If we understood more about ourselves and our relationship to money and the energy it produces, talking about it would be as natural as talking about the weather.” – Hugh Massie, Chairman, DNA Behavior.
Money has energy. It is a driver of emotions. It impacts our health, both positively and negatively. Our identity influences how we ‘behave’ with money.
The first law of thermodynamics states that the energy in a system must remain constant—it can neither increase nor decrease without interference from outside.
What, therefore, do we understand about the energy of money and its impact on our lives? If we don’t understand or even acknowledge the energy of money, how then can we manage interference, intervention, and movement from outside?
In light of the uncertain global financial markets at present – today is the day to change the way you think about money, your relationship with money, how you talk about money and recognize the place the energy of money has at the center of your life and wellbeing.
As an adviser and coach, you should consider how your money energy is reflected in the guidance you give to your clients. Hence once you have understood your money energy, you will be better placed to guide clients through the next season of the market downturn.
You cannot have overall health and well-being without sound mental health. Money is one of the biggest factors driving people’s mental health conditions, but it is often not addressed even by practitioners.
Are you willing to have tough conversations? Would your teams know how to have these talks? Do you think you know enough about your money stressors to empower clients to share theirs with you?