I have been thinking deeply about our clients recently, particularly what makes them so successful. As a group, our clients represent an extraordinary scorecard, with very high levels of success across most measures – financial security, lifestyle enjoyment and relationship success.
So why is it that some families enjoy a deep sense of well-being, while others don’t?
Reflecting on this, I was reminded of one of those life lessons we carry with us forever. I call it ‘the Hard Way versus the Easy Way.’
I recently noticed a report complaining that school-age children are avoiding the harder mathematics courses in their leaving subjects, favouring the easy courses. The logic seems to be that the easy courses get you the points to go to university, so why bother doing the hard course? I guess this all makes sense, at least it would to a 16-year-old.
When our boys selected their subjects for years 11 and 12, I gently insisted that they take the highest maths course they were capable of, and thankfully they took my advice. You see, I have had the experience of arriving at university many years ago with inadequate maths knowledge to prepare me for post-graduate statistics. The result was that I had to do things the hard way.
In so many fields of endeavour, we are presented with an easy and hard way, but there’s a consistent paradox at play here. The easy way often ends up being the hard way, and the hard way turns out to be the easy way.
This is true of most sporting teams. In last year’s AFL grand final, I couldn’t help feeling that Melbourne had won the game before they stepped onto the field. They had done the work required for success in training and preparation; they had the right people in the right positions – on and off the field, and they had managed their game plan better than anyone else.
This brings me back to our clients’ success. In the world of financial planning, it is so easy to take the easy way. Not preparing for the future is so much easier than doing the work to prepare. Spending freely during life is so much more fun than putting some aside for the future. It’s the easy, freewheeling habits that result in people doing it hard later in life.
The common thread for our clients is that they’ve done the work along the way so that things can be easier later. They set goals, discuss priorities, negotiate trade-offs, take advice, invest sensibly and so on. In essence, they do the work required to be successful.
Time is the great compounder. Great habits compounded over time turn into great results. Terrible habits compounded over time turn into terrible results. It’s just the way it is. Luck might play a part for some people, but the financial success we see with our clients is because they’ve avoided the easy way.
Congratulations – here’s to your continuing success!