It occurred to me recently that I can use my character flaws to make much smarter life choices going forward – financial and otherwise. More importantly, so can you.
The thought popped into my head while my wife and I were on vacation in New York. (Side note – the vacation was debt free!)
While there, we visited two of our best friends – Lori and Nathan. This couple (and their two amazing kids) are a family we love dearly.
My buddy Nate is uber-successful. He is second in command at one of the largest financial institutions in the world – and he’s only 46 years old!
I want to be like Nathan, but I’m not.
I’m delighted for Nathan and honestly not jealous.
But while I was visiting him, I noticed I was beating myself up pretty good.
I asked myself why I wasn’t as successful as my buddy.
I came up with many reasons – some of which I have no control over. I’m not stupid, but I’m not a genius like Nate. Not much I can do about that.
But I did come up with one reason for which I found no excuse – impatience.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m really grateful for where I am in life. But had I been more patient at any number of turning points in my life, things would have been easier and (possibly) better.
Once I came to this realization, I asked myself how to use that understanding to do better rather than as an excuse to put myself through the ringer. Could I use this to improve my small business? Could I harness the power of that realization to improve my investing results?
I came up with a great idea.
I decided to go against myself.
Attack your weaknesses
By nature, I want to get it done and move on to the next issue as quickly as possible. Sometimes I move on too soon.
I decided to be ultra patient in any business or interaction that was on my plate even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.
I committed to slow down and hold myself accountable to others.
The result has been very positive so far. If nothing else, I feel more relaxed.
I’ve also realized that success in certain areas that I’m working on are going to take time. I’m going to force myself to be OK with that.
And once I feel comfortable with my ability to be more patient, I’m not stopping. I’m going to keep listing my character flaws (news flash: I have many). Then, I’m going to go against myself again. My character flaws cost me too much. I’m going to put everything I have into going against the grain.
How can this help you?
Find your flaws
Ask yourself what is the one thing that has kept you from where you want to be in life.
Are you impatient like me?
Are you selfish?
Do you fail to think things through?
What is it?
This is super important. It’s painful, but you have to be completely honest with yourself if you want the payoff – and believe me, it’s worth it.
If you’re having trouble coming up with the answer, ask five people you trust and respect. Tell them you are trying to overcome your main character flaws and you need their help to identify them.
Ask your boss and spouse. Ask your co-workers. Your workout partner. Five people.
Once you have identified your main character flaw, write down how it’s impacted you in the past. What has that flaw cost you?
Has your impatience created credit card debt?
Has your laziness resulted in not having the right life insurance?
Has your selfishness kept you from getting your budget under control?
Has your anger made it difficult for your small business to thrive?
Write it down
If you want this exercise to have its full impact, you must actually write this down with a pen and paper. There is something magical about actually writing (as opposed to typing) that I can’t explain. Do it, then tell me if you don’t agree.
Once you’ve done your writing, don’t put your pen and paper away. You’ve got more work to do.
Let the past go. Don’t beat yourself up.
Instead, think about what your dealing with right now.
Are you putting together your estate plan?
Are you trying to launch a new business?
Looking for a new career?
Trying to help your kids get on track?
Think about how your character flaw, if left unattended, is going to make your job harder.
Now write it down. See yourself shooting yourself in the foot. Describe how that character flaw is going to make it harder to accomplish your goal.
Look to the future
Now, map out a different course.
See yourself NOT giving in.
See yourself NOT being lazy, but doing your homework before you buy that life insurance.
See yourself NOT being selfish but thinking of others before you create your estate plan.
Can you see how taking contrary action is going to get you closer to your goals?
How does that feel? Can you write that down too?
Lather, rinse, repeat
The great news is that you don’t have to stop there.
You can use this exercise to master other character flaws in your business and personal life.
Are you willing to do it?
Have you ever undertaken an exercise like this in the past?
What was the result?
Do you have any other ideas that can help others overcome character deficiencies?