Burn the Ship to Move Ahead in Your Practice

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Are you ready to burn the ship? Pass the point of safe return? Cross the Rubicon?

Julius Caesar led his army across the Rubicon River in 49 BC (this was way before Northwestern Mutual). Once he crossed this point, he knew if he did not succeed in seizing the Roman Republic he would be executed. The expression “cross the Rubicon” means that you knowingly cross the point of no return.

What about you? Have you made this level of commitment? Are you all in with your practice? Are you willing to move mountains and fight for it, insisting that you will succeed? Have you burned the ship? Famous commanders in history have ordered men to destroy their ships, so that they would have to conquer the country or be killed. While this may seem a little dramatic in the context of running a financial practice, let me tell you something else that is dramatic.

Only about 11 to 15% of new Financial Representatives (FRs) at NM make it through their first year.

If you make it through five years in the business, you have a 93% chance you will retire at NM.

What is the difference between FRs who make it and those who do not? “New reps need to be all in,” says Wealth Management Advisor Karl Dettmann, adding “they need to believe that failure is not an option.” He explains that the level of conviction a new rep has that they will make it or the level of conviction that they have that they will not make it is the defining difference. Dettmann himself has retained 75% of his new recruits. How does he do it?

While Dettmann provides mentoring and the other customary support, he asks his mentees to take another step. “I ask them to hire a coach before they think they can afford one,” he says. He believes that this is a powerful gesture of making a commitment, asking for help and using all resources possible. Only reps who believe they will make it take the leap, he says.

How do you take a leap when you can only see uncertainty ahead? How is it possible to let go of rational things like a steady paycheck and take on a 100% commission-only situation? Then, on top of that, hire an expensive coach?!

First, know that you are not alone! There are thousands of other FRs going through the exact same fears, anxieties and doubts. It is completely normal to freak out when you sign a contract agreeing to run your own practice. And to continue freaking out for several years afterwards!

So, if it’s that simple, why doesn’t everyone just hire a coach and be done with it? “Mental head trash holds new reps back from hiring a coach—let alone really giving it their all and committing everything it takes to the practice,” says Dettmann.

The next step is to do Granum Level activity for the first 6 months. Just do it. (I know you just tuned that out. Go back and read it again!). If you have never done Granum Level activity ever, do it for just 6 months starting now. Dettmann did just that. After doing 6 months of Granum when he started his practice, he knew which rules to keep and which ones to bend. 

You can do it, too. Let yourself use 25 years of careful research to keep you in the business and to teach you about yourself. In all likelihood, in some areas you will outperform the statistics and in others you will underperform. Knowing the level of activity you need to keep the get the results you expect is fundamental.

Whether or not you succeed is up to you. If you burn the ship you have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving ahead. This experience is a journey. If you are willing to learn about yourself along the way, you can eventually build the ship of your dreams and sail into the ultimate safety. There is help all around you. Light the match and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime.

Coaching Tip Making a commitment to your practice means making a commitment to yourself. Chances are that will require you to be vulnerable. You will need to announce that you can and will do what it takes to run your practice—even when skeptics question what you are doing. Being vulnerable takes a huge amount of bravery and courage. If you have critics and doubters in your close circle, make a conscious effort to surround yourself with people who are also taking risks and being vulnerable. Acknowledge your inner critic and tell him or her thank you for caring, but that you’ll take it from here.