How fear stunts your growth and steals your time

I want to talk with you about the lollipop of mediocrity.  Everyone has one, we carry it around with it in our pockets, tempted by the allure of its easy sweetness.  There’s only one problem with the lollipop of mediocrity – take one lick and you will suck forever.


I know, it’s not my most elegant statement, but its stickiness lies in its inherent truth.


If we’re not careful, our fear can have us choosing what’s comfortable over what we’re committed to, keeping us stuck in the status quo.


One of our Limitless Adviser coaches, Adam, wasn’t feeling very limitless when he called me. Adam was just under $300,000 in revenue, his growth stalled and he was frustrated.  He was ready for a breakthrough.


Adam had two young daughters and a wife who hated her job and desperately wanted to stay home with their girls. The night before they had just tucked the girls in for the night, when his wife paused on the stairs, defeated after a difficult day, and told him how much she hated that a job she despised got the best of her while the people she loved got the worst of her.


As Adam tells the story, he was instantly confronted with the true cost of his business choices.   Adam had heard me tell that story and when his wife shared her sadness, he realized just how many licks he’d taken and what it had really cost him.


Adam, like many, was stopped by the invisible forces of resistance we meet each day.  These forces aren’t out to get us, rather they are the sum of the seemingly harmless but comfortable choices we make and the revenue and time each silently steals away from our success.


Adam is by no means alone.  Brian had an $800,000 practice that kept him tied to it.  A fee analysis uncovered that Brian’s occasional discounts totaled $80,000 a year in revenue.  Over 20 years, that’s $1.6 million in lost revenue.  With nominal interest and lost equity value, those seemingly innocuous decisions cost Brian millions of dollars.


Adam and Brian are not exceptions.  Like many, both did too much, for too many, for too little, for too long.


If you’ve ever accepted a client below your minimum, let an employee or partner situation linger too long, felt overwhelmed by the constant churn of client work, wished you could deliver deeper value more consistently, said yes when a prospect asked for a discount or taken a referral that wasn’t really a fit, you too have taken licks off the lollipop.


Adam, Brian and others were simply suffering the weight of their subconscious choices, which in turn kept them struggling through this painful learning: you cannot shove 10 pounds of shiznet into a 5 pounds bag and expect satisfaction, much less excellence or even a life.


If we’re being really honest, the kind I’m known for, then we have to talk about the fact that most practices run this way.  It’s not a function of intention, it’s a function of fear.


Those invisible forces holding us back from the more and better we want to be, have, achieve and experience in our business and lives is that ugly four-letter F word, FEAR.


Fear is our elaborate response when the perception of threat or danger is triggered.  Under stress, the sympathetic nervous system activates the fight or flight response.  In response to these triggers, a complex set of biological and neurological responses is activated.  Our reflexes kick in and our adrenal glands flow.  We breathe faster, our heart rate quickens, and muscles tense, drawing blood and oxygen from the frontal lobe, where reasoning happens, to our heart and muscles.  All the faster to run from or fight against the threat.

This primitive but complex survival mechanism is designed to do one thing, DON’T DIE.  The problem is that not dying is not the same as really living.


This survival response is extremely useful if you are a Caveman living in a primitive world, one in which hesitation would surely get you eaten.


But in today’s modern world, the threats that trigger that same automatic survival response aren’t quite so life-threatening.   A prospect asking for a discount, your saying no, and losing the client does not have the same life-altering consequences as facing a hungry tiger.  Yet, our brains tell us otherwise.


The biggest discovery in behavior science in the last 100 years is that events do not create our stress, fear or negative emotions.  The meaning we give those events does, be it positive or negative.


The next time a prospect meets with you, says they like what they hear and see value in working with you – just not as much as you do and could they have a discount please, I invite you to re-frame your relationship with fear.


Here’s the common story that surfaces when a prospect asks for a discount: “Yes” is the right answer here, if we say no we will lose the prospect and the referral source, they’ll never send another client, all clients will realize what an imposter we are and leave, and we’ll get eaten by the hungry tiger and…DIE!


Except it’s almost never true.


Once Adam saw how his stories had compromised his choices, he decided it was time to tame his tigers.   I helped Adam learn to own his mind in that 1/5 of a second to make more conscious choices, ones aligned with his goals.


Adam raised his fees, significantly.  Adam implemented time management strategies that focused him on the energy-creating, revenue-producing activities he loved, including people, process and platform upgrades.  Adam mastered his brand story and doubled down on his niche, fueling his growth. Adam developed over 60 Redtail workflows that systematized the delivery of specialized services.  And Adam implemented client meeting surges to focus his client meetings into a few months of the year, freeing up massive chunks of time for him to make changes that elevated his success, while giving him the time and freedom to enjoy it.


Adam set down the lollipop of mediocrity and learned to own his mind.  He learned that fear is neither friend or foe, it’s how we frame it and use it that determines if it becomes our fertilizer, or fuel for growth.

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