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Incremental Thinking Versus Monumental Thinking

It's time to change your thought process for the better.

Allyson Lewis, 10/02/2008

"Incremental thinking, incremental planning ... it is the kiss of death, don't fall for it."
From Axiom, by Bill Hybels

When was the last time you woke up before your alarm clock went off, bounded out of bed with your heart pounding, full of excitement and unbridled enthusiasm? New challenges are a great gift. It was an autumn day in September 1982 that I began my career as a financial advisor with a regional brokerage firm in Little Rock, Ark. It was my first job, my first challenge as an adult, and the beginning of an adventure that has now spanned more than 26 years. Today, I still work as a financial advisor, with a national New York brokerage firm through a local office in Jonesboro, Ark.

Looking back, I am sure all of us walked into our jobs as financial advisors with amazing goals and aspirations. We certainly were drawn to this industry by our innate love of numbers, and finance--people and projections. Yet, this column is not written to remind you about the past. This article is being published to inspire you to face your future, to help you embrace the volatility of the markets we live in today and allow you to look at tomorrow with a fresh perspective.

Humans are the only species on the planet with the gift of imagination. We can use our brains to outline and define our future by doing nothing more than thinking. Many motivational speakers and writers have spent a lot of time telling us about the importance of setting goals and objectives, but with every passing day, I believe it is ever more important to focus on setting the right goals and objectives.

In his new book on leadership, Axiom, Bill Hybels states, "Incremental thinking, incremental planning ... it is the kiss of death, don't fall for it." How many of us have chosen to take the average path, the familiar route or the easy way down? How many times have we made specific decisions to do things incrementally rather than take a leap of faith and believe our future can be dramatically different?

Today is a great day to use your imagination and become a "thinker." The only remaining question becomes will you become an "incremental thinker" settling for incremental goals and incremental achievements? Or will you choose to become a "monumental thinker," a person re-energized, ready to face a new day and a new challenge--prepared to take your business to an entirely new level?

Let's be realistic, in our industry we understand statistics. Assume that 5,000 people read this article, using a normal bell curve approximately 68% of the readers will be average, 16% will fall below average, and approximately 16% will be way above average. (16% of 5,000 is 800.) However, using the fact that you are already subscriber to MorningstarAdvisor.com, I am going to assume that all 5,000 of you are already in the top 16%. So what really is the difference between average and amazing? And exactly how can you use this "monumental thinking" to take your practice to the next level?

It is my belief that the top 16% have used their brains to think in new and creative ways that have helped them overcome the obstacles and issues that all of us face. Every day we are all living with the same economy, the same difficulties in predicting the direction of the stock and bond markets. We are all faced with the enormous responsibility of helping our clients try to make prudent asset allocation decisions and yet somehow there are men and women who wake up everyday excited that they have chosen to be a financial advisor. These are the people whom I believe have moved from "incremental thinking" to "monumental thinking."

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