The financial services profession is marvelously simple. Indeed, it has only two essential elements: client acquisition, and everything else.

Of course, we burn to do good for people and – for this is the profession’s golden equation – to do well by doing good. But first we must find people who’ll allow us to do good for them. Hence, client acquisition becomes our threshold responsibility.

Unless we are inheriting or purchasing a practice – or being taken into one as a junior member – client acquisition initially becomes a process of approaching a great many people and offering to analyze their financial situation, with an eye toward its meaningful enhancement.

In practice, the huge preponderance of the people we approach with this potentially life-forwarding offer decline to accept it. This is, of course, their loss, but our vulnerable personalities do not process it that way. Instead, we experience it as “rejection,” both personal and painful. That’s a ticket out of the business. And unless industry statistics have improved dramatically since the last time I looked, four out of five new entrants into the profession get that ticket punched, and are gone within five years.

The one of five who remains – and most particularly the one who ultimately goes to the top of the profession – does so on the strength of just two qualities: passion and persistence. Passion is the driving love we have for our capacity to do good, indeed to alter lives and family histories. Persistence is simply the refusal to give up, and the decision to keep learning, and getting better, through mindful practice.

A few years ago, I essayed my own little book on this subject, The Game of Numbers. At its core is the perception that not only doesn’t “rejection” hurt, it isn’t even “rejection.” It’s just a person who may be incubating some form of the disease of economic insecurity, refusing to let you administer the serum.

But in 2016 a book came along that I consider the companion volume to TGON. It’s by the MacArthur “genius” fellow and University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth. And it’s wonderfully titled Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Grit was a huge best seller at the time, and deservedly so. With dozens of real-life examples layered over sound psychological principles and practices, Ms. Duckworth documents what we all know in our hearts – that if you love what you’re doing enough, and if you never stop doing it but instead get steadily stronger and better, you can have whatever financial services practice you genuinely want.

© 2020 Nick Murray. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission. Nick’s latest book Scripts was published in November 2019, and is available only on