Is now truly a great opportunity for financial advisors to build their businesses? Or is thinking that it is just a mind game we play with ourselves to help us get through difficult times?

Let me begin to build my case that right now is, indeed, a great time to be a financial advisor by telling you a story about four men in a hot tub. Don't worry this is not a photo story. One of the four men was me. Another was an advisor named Barry.

After a long day of powder skiing at Alta, we were unwinding, having a beer, and I asked him how it was going. A big smile spread across his face and he told me that 2008 was his best year ever. Furthermore, he is working to make 2009 even better. If you're curious about the number, his production in 2008 was just shy of $4 million. But, the amount of production really isn't the point. The point is that it was up. Jokingly, I asked Barry if he was aware that not everyone in the financial services business was having the same experience he seemed to be enjoying. He was aware of that.

What question would you have asked Barry if you had the chance? How did you have so much success in 2008? What are you going to do to make 2009 another great year? Do have magical powers of persuasion?

I asked him. And he said, "It wasn't easy. We just decided not to buy into the belief that because the market is bad and the economy is bad that our business has to be down." That was it. Could it be that simple? Apparently it can be. Barry isn't some Pollyanna with his head in the sand about the bad news in the market, economy and world. He's just decided to take charge of the only thing he CAN control-himself.

This is not a new phenomenon. In 1960 Maxwell Maltz wrote a book entitled Psycho-Cybernetics. He said, "Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs."

I'm not asking you, and I don't think Barry or Maxwell Maltz would ask you, to pretend that circumstances are good when they're bad. The point is that as bad as things might be externally, as bad as things may be that are out of your control-the market, the economy, world events-the biggest obstacle to achieving your goals is always ...YOU.

The biggest challenge is not out there, it's inside your own head. My friend Capt. Charlie Plumb, USNR, spent 6½ years in a Vietnamese POW camp. He says, "The key to survival isn't the 8-foot cell you are confined to. It's managing the 8 inches between your ears."

Psycho-Cybernetics introduced Maltz's view that a person must have an accurate and positive view of one's self before setting goals; otherwise he or she will get stuck in a continuing pattern of limiting beliefs. He believed that self image is the cornerstone of all the changes that take place in a person. If one's self-image is unhealthy, or faulty, all of his efforts will end in failure.

Do you think your beliefs matter?

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