One of the great ironies of living longer is you can get stuck in what you’ve learned from experience. When you look back on a difficult situation from your past and see you would do it different today, that shows how far you’ve come in your experience. You want that because when you’re not getting better, you’re either stagnant, boxed into the past or dead. (It stands to reason, right?)

Here’s the thing – when you gain a certain level of experience, it gets real easy to coast on your laurels. It seems obvious you don’t need to learn about something that you think you know well. There’s a little ego in that too. The rub is that, when you think you know something, you’re not open to the new possibilities that come from learning and growing past the familiar, known and expected. Things get predictable, which is different from stable. And that, my friend, is the enemy for your business. 

I know you’ve met people who are a little stuck in the past. They’re the ones wearing clothes from the 80’s (and not the cool kind), in a home with ‘vintage’ decor, driving a car that’s taped together in places because it’s paid off. These are the people who complain about how things are changing for the worse these days, being critical of the world but not doing anything to make it better. In our industry, these are the folks who work from handwritten notes, try to do everything on their own instead of hiring a team, don’t use social media and have an old website. I’m not putting these people down! Instead, I want to help them get into the present so they can be happier and more successful. We all need help now and then, but it means being willing to let go of what we think we already know so we can try new possibilities. 

When you feel you know something so well you don’t need to learn anything, that’s a problem. Today’s competitive market means you need to keep up and, ideally, get ahead of the curve. Growth is, by definition, uncomfortable. The degree of discomfort is the measure of how far you are going past your experience. You need to stay on the growing edge to be current and relevant to your customers. That might be around technology, best practices for your team or spiffing up your personal image to be your most attractive. 

The point is your previous experience can be the enemy of your business. You do want to know what you know – but you also don’t want to be that guy or gal who goes through their day by rote, doing what you’ve always done the way you’ve always done it. Because if you do, life is going to be boring and your business is going to be behind the eight ball right quick. 

Things move fast these days, including in business. So how do you balance having or gaining experience with learning new stuff all the time?

For me, I focus on only three things, mostly because I hire great people to help me focus on everything else in my business. My focus is on finding ways to create more value in three areas: 

  1. Relationships. The relationships that I have with my family, my team, my clients, my students and the new people who are attracted in to working with me in some way are the lifeblood of what I do. I trust my people and value my relationships as a top priority. 
  1. Opportunity identification. I look for opportunities like a bloodhound. If there’s some hidey-hole of gold, I’m going to do my best to find it. I may not be the one to go after it, because my team members might be better at that than me – but I look for new potential to make the most of it. I do this with my clients too because they might be missing something that is obvious from where I stand. Looking at things from different perspectives gives me and the people around me the extra edge in both life and business.
  1. Self-care. When I’m not at my best, everything suffers. I need good sleep, healthy food, a little exercise, having a good laugh and having fun, time to connect with God and my loved ones, time to think about things – I like to do that at the lake. Me making the time to take care of myself means I bring my best to the eight days a month that I work. I am more productive in those eight days than some people are in eight months (or even years!). The good news is that I am committed to showing my students how to live this lifestyle too.

One other thing about what happens when you think you know it all… in my experience (pun intended!), just when you think you know it all, life has a way of taking you down a peg or two by throwing you a curve ball. When that happens, it’s a sign to get humble, open your mind to learning something new and either go back to learn whatever you missed or, on the other hand, take whatever you have learned and should have respected more into new directions in your life and business activities. 

The bottom line: get comfy with discomfort. When you lean into it, learning something new is exciting and thrilling and gives you a sense of accomplishment. And it benefits your business and the people around you.

So where do you think your experience might be holding you back? What do you need to learn that could help you be a better human and a better loan officer?

Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn

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