If It Worked for Steve…

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The same philosophy that propelled Steve Jobs to financial success can also help you achieve your financial goals.

I do love a good quote.

It only requires a brief conversation with me to likely hear some of my favourites. I can pull them out of my “you-know-what” pretty fast and - since I have been a quote collector a lifetime – it seems I always have one ready to whip out to illustrate a point. Like most business types, I have a whiteboard in my office. Unlike most business types, it’s not where I keep my contact lists or quarterly stats. Rather, it’s where I keep cards and pics from my friends, clients and family and – at any given time – it’s where my latest favourite quote is written for all who enter to see.

A particular quote by Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, really caught my attention earlier this year and, as such, it has adorned the ‘ol whiteboard ever since. It simply states:

“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.”

One of the reasons this quote appealed to me so much is because it speaks to a philosophy I wholeheartedly support. Anytime I sit with a client – especially a new client – the first thing I’ll ask is, “What is the number one problem you are trying to solve?” Or sometimes I’ll rephrase it as, “What one thing worries you most when it comes to your finances?”  Put another way, “What is your intention for our meeting today?”

I’ve always found it is much easier to stay committed to any plan or financial strategy if you know first what problem you are trying to solve and are crystal clear about what you are trying to accomplish. Without a clear understanding of the problem, the solution will remain out of reach. And – just as important – without a clear purpose for why you are doing what you are doing, you are likely (almost guaranteed, in fact), to bail at the first sign of trouble. Without intention, there is no commitment. And without a thoroughly defined problem, you cannot craft a comprehensive solution.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.

A client can tell me their problem is worrying about retirement. Simple enough. But what if we dug a little further to really define their problem? By attempting to better define the problem (and asking more questions), we may learn that:

·         They don’t understand their employer pension plan.

·         They don’t feel confident that they will qualify for government benefits in retirement or what those benefits may be.

·         They are uncertain how or where the money to save is going to come from.

·         They aren’t sure what type of investments are best suited for retirement savings.

·         They have no idea what it is going to cost them to live comfortably in retirement.

Breaking a big problem into smaller issues – or defining the problem correctly – will give us a very clear idea as to what our next steps should be. Furthermore, once we start talking about lifestyle wants and needs for retirement, now we have an end game in mind. The intention becomes much clearer. And, therefore, the commitment to be plan improves greatly.

As an added bonus, by defining the problem correctly you will likely identify a lot of smaller problems that need addressing. Solving these in priority will also create momentum.

And isn’t moving forward what’s it’s all about?

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