No Plan B

Jan 11, 2023

I was interviewing for the position of financial advisor. It was 1996. I was excited as well as nervous, and I felt prepared for the questions the group was going to ask me. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to get the best advice of my career—and I hadn’t even started it yet.

The recruiter for the firm asked me what I enjoyed about the job I was currently working in. I was in health insurance with a local insurance carrier, and I shared all the things I liked about my account manager position. She took some notes. The manager then asked why I was considering leaving a salaried position with a corporate credit card and company-issued Ford Taurus for a job that was going to be 100 percent commission with no fringe benefits. 

Great question.

I explained I considered myself a risk-taker, that I wanted to control my income, and that I wanted to be rewarded for my hard work. I also shared that I wanted to be self-employed and answer to no one but myself. It also seemed that if I became a financial advisor, I would have an impact on people, help them with their money decisions, and create long-term relationships. I had a hunch these were the right buzzwords to use, but they also rang true for me. 

The sixty-two-year-old advisor who was also in our meeting (and someone who would eventually end up being my mentor) had been quiet up to that point. Then he turned to me and asked, “And if this financial advisor job doesn’t work out for you, what’s your backup plan?”

Without pause, I responded confidently: “I know I can always go back to my corporate job. In fact, my company would probably even hire me back if this didn’t work out.” 

“WRONG ANSWER!” he belted out. I jumped a little in my chair. 

He continued, “If you have a backup plan, you’ll never be 100 percent committed to making this work out. You’ll always have one foot out the door. If you want to succeed, you need to give up your Plan B.”

The idea made me nervous.

He continued to explain: “If you’re willing to throw away the idea of a backup plan and commit wholeheartedly to this career, I will invest in you. I promise to teach you everything I know. I believe that with my experience and your enthusiasm, we could do incredible and very meaningful work together. Think about it. It’s a big decision.”

I didn’t need to think about it. I just knew it felt right

At that moment, I believed everything he was saying. And I believed even more in the opportunity in front of me—to be coached and trained by one of the best advisors in the business and to begin a career dedicated to helping others get what they wanted in their lives. That sounded fantastic to me.

I bravely spoke up. 

“I don’t need to think about it anymore. No backup plan, just this. I’m totally in.” I put my hand out to shake his. 

That was it. My career as a financial advisor began.

As I look back on that meeting now, more than twenty-five years ago, the advice I received was critical to my success: No backup plan. 

Was it risky to commit 100 percent? Sure. 

But it worked out—for me, for my clients, and for my family—100 percent. I love this work.

What about you? Do you have one foot committed to something and one foot simultaneously pointing toward your Plan B if this doesn’t work out for you? 

You might have a backup plan for your current career. 

You might have a backup plan for your marriage.

 Either way, having one foot in and one foot out never equals commitment.

What would it mean to throw away your backup plan and instead commit 100 percent to the thing that’s right in front of you? 

Committing wholeheartedly could:

  • End up resulting in a phenomenal career.
  • Result in a fantastic marriage. 
  • Make possible anything you set your wholehearted self to accomplish.

Maybe today's the day you throw away your Plan B and fully commit...

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