Have you paid your dues?

By Jim Ruta | January 26 2016 07:00AM
Do I really have to go through all the “growing pains” and trouble in this business to be a success?

Some agents want it all and they want it all right now. I understand that. Success is hard to wait for. Some believe that they deserve success early in their careers and are disappointed when they don’t get it. It’s like the sentiment in that ironic prayer you may have heard, “Lord, give me patience and give it to me now!”

I recall another story that makes a similar point. A reporter asked a very successful entrepreneur to what he attributes his outstanding success.

“Good decisions” he says.

The reporter pushed further, “But, how do you learn to make good decisions?” he asked.

“From experience”, said the entrepreneur.

“But, how do you get experience? the reporter probed deeper.

“By making bad decisions,” was the wry reply.

Experience is what you get from paying your dues. I’m not a gambler – in the Vegas sense. I’ve always felt that I worked too hard for my money to let it slip away on pure chance. I’d rather take my chances on me. I take many risks in my business. That’s one of the ways you pay your dues. Some risks pay off, some don’t. There is really no way to tell what works from what doesn’t except by experience because there are so many variables. Here are a two other ways you pay your dues:

  1. Making a good effort to achieve a goal but still coming up short is paying your dues. Like… making some calls but not enough of them to make the numbers work for you. Closing once, stopping and not getting a sale is another. Learning from losing makes you a winner. Failure teaches us to recognize success when we get it.
  2. Doing the things you know you have to do to be successful but are afraid to do, is paying your dues. Risking your self-esteem for the chance of a big win is paying your dues. Forcing yourself through your fear – doing what needs to be done anyway, is a vital lesson you can only learn this way. Like – cold calling to find new prospects. Asking for referrals. Making your own pre-approach phone calls. Making payroll, whatever it takes. How else can you appreciate how invested you have to be, to achieve the success you want without actually doing it?

So, when you wonder why you haven’t achieved all the success you expect yet, ask yourself if you may still have some dues to pay. It’s only the price of admission to top performance. Everyone pays their dues in business. Some pay those dues in the business they are in, some paid them elsewhere. Some may have made a sizeable down payment in a previous business. But, make no mistake, the dues are always paid. And, it’s not a bad thing. When you pay your dues, success is more lasting and more satisfying. Paying your dues is your initiation and membership fee to the successful entrepreneurial advisor’s club. Once you’re in, no one can ever take the experience away from you.


What can I do to give myself a better chance at achieving the goals I’ve set for 2016?

Not everyone takes this courageous first step, so “Congratulations” on setting your goals for the New Year. You can get anything you want from your business, you just have to know what that is. Setting performance goals is the best way to make that reality work for you. Set goals if you want to get better next year than you were this year. Unless you get better, you will definitely get worse. There is no performance “holding pattern”. This applies to anyone at any level of production too. Just because you aren’t “sick” doesn’t mean you can’t get better. We all need a target or we are aimless.

I’ve helped a lot of advisors set a lot of goals over the years. Some advisors achieve them. Sadly, most do not. The one determining factor I’ve discovered over the years is what you do AFTER you set your goals. Some advisors simply wait for the results to happen to them. They suppose that all the “magic” is in the setting of goals. There certainly is something to that. Writing goals down goes a long way to helping achieve them. But, there is one thing you can physically do to become the better, more productive person you talk about in your goals.

If you want to be a different, more productive person, you have to act like a different, more productive person. There is no sense aspiring to be this more productive person and then staying exactly like the less productive person you were. The person achieving the goals has to BE different than the person who set them. That means YOU have to be a different person if you want to be better. Whatever your goals are in 2016, here is the key to making your goals your reality in 2016.

Act “as if”. Internalize your major goal for 2016 and then decide how a person who’s achieved that performance would act. How will you act once you achieve it? (Note: This is NOT about how much money you will spend when you achieve your goal.) It’s about how you will behave with your prospects, clients, staff and family when you achieve your big goals. You will be a different, a better person then, so ACT LIKE IT today.

Making your belief observable to others will change you to become the achiever you plan to be. Changing your behavior changes you for the better, forever. When you demonstrate to yourself and others that you are this serious about your aspirations, you are half the way to achievement.

This change in behavior means taking the one, serious risk to open up the possibility of success for yourself in the year ahead. When you are “acting as if”, that necessary risk is usually obvious. Do it and then accept no excuses for non-performance. Believe enough in yourself and your ultimate ability that you become what you want to be before you are it. Your results will follow.

Anyone can act “As If”. It’s believing BEFORE achieving. It will make your goals your reality in 2016.