Crazy or Genius? You Decide!

By Doug Armey

The dream turned into a wakeup call.  My first year as a financial consultant I netted $10,000.  A little short of my goals.  With a family of four and two kids heading towards college this was a setback of major scale.  We had saved, invested and planned before launching but still this was worse than I ever imagined.

The biggest obstacle was self imposed.  I wanted to build a fee based advising and planning business.  By doing this I collected a small quarterly fee rather than a much larger commission.  I wanted to build a business with a long term focus.  Help people plan their financial futures while reducing the potential conflicts of interest.

In the short term it meant giving up 80 percent of my income.  In the long term it meant building a scalable business that could grow exponentially.

Many of the veteran brokers told me, “You’re crazy.  You can’t build a business like that.  You’ll never survive.  People won’t go along with it.  You’re a fool.”

I received their advice then promptly ignored it and pressed on.  I dreamed of building this way because I truly believe it is the best way to serve my clients. And as my income grew and my business stabilized it would give me the financial freedom I was trying to help my clients achieve.  Freedom I could use to pursue additional dreams, like writing, without needing to leave my business.

By year two my income had tripled.  Still not spectacular income but a lot less exciting than the first year.  By year three it doubled again.  And by year four it had increased another 50 percent.

When I left that office ten years later, to start my own wealth management company, I was the third highest in production.  I had surpassed all the ones who said I was a fool.

Now they commented, as I left, “You’re lucky to have that kind of business.”  And I would smile as I thought about inappropriate responses.

As each of us pursue our dreams we’ll hit innumerable setbacks and challenges.

The greater our goals, the steeper our path.

And we’ll hear the critics standing to the side telling us, “You’re foolish.  It can’t be done.”

It’s easy to listen to them.  Become discouraged.  To feel, “I am a fool.”

I’ve experienced many of those dark nights.  But if we listen long enough we’ll give up and then we become them.

Tim Ferris in his blog writes, “Big successes often seem like foregone conclusions.  In reality, most entrepreneurs (read: creators) who appear to have unique genius suffer through the same frustration as the masses of unknowns. They simply test and persist a few steps further.”

The difference isn’t in experiencing setbacks.  The difference isn’t in the suffering and discouragement.  The difference is in taking one more step.

But how do we?  How, when we’re frustrated and discouraged, do we get up and go one step further?

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, wrote, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.” (Ephesians 6:7-8, NIV)

Two parts of that passage helps us unlock that staying power.

First, when he says to “serve wholeheartedly” we need to stop and figure out what we want to put our whole heart into.  Pause and think about that for a moment.  If we don’t burn with enthusiasm for what we’re doing we’ll give up when things get tough.  But if we do have an empowering dream then we’ll willingly pay the price and keep taking the next step.

Pray and think about these questions.

  • What do I get excited about?
  • What is my dream that could help others, care for my family and fills my needs too?
  • What do I have natural gifts in?
  • What would I love to do as a career?
  • What does that career look like?
  • What’s the next step towards it?

Then second, he says “serve” wholeheartedly.

We need to unleash that enthusiasm. Go after it.  Put our whole heart into it.  Take a “failure is not an option” attitude.

  • Think of it as serving God as well as others.
  • Act enthusiastic even when you don’t feel it.
  • Let it morph into other things but don’t give up.
  • Even when discouraged take one more step.
  • Start on the first one today.

Think of the power that unleashes.  He promises we’ll see the reward.  Maybe not immediately.  But God blesses those kind of honest, loving, serving intentions.  Why wouldn’t he?

Another promise that keeps me going in those dark times gives the same instruction but then ends differently.  It says, “Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” (Colossians 3:24, NIV)

What keeps us moving forward is our confidence—what we “know.” We expect to receive the promised inheritance from God.  When I begin to doubt I fill my mind with the dream instead.  I visualize what that success looks like.  I trust God to bring it to pass because he promised to.

If we’re serving out of good intentions God knows our heart and will reward that.  And we rest in knowing God’s power and promises simply cannot fail.

We may redirect at times.  We may revise our plans.  That’s ok.  But this “knowing” will keep us moving forward into our dreams.

And out of that we’ll receive his inheritance of every blessing he has promised.

Do you have a burning dream that seems foolish?  Want to be a genius?

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Categories : Success, Wealth

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