At the last minute, three of our five grandchildren made us an offer we could not refuse. Visiting from Atlanta, as did all our children and grandchildren, they and their parents (our son and daughter-in-law) stayed over Sunday evening to chase the eclipse into South Carolina Monday. So we joined them, drove north to the Botanical Gardens at Clemson, and made a memory with our family.

No photograph has yet captured the palpable, overwhelming eye candy of seeing the eclipse in totality. The corona undulated with diaphanous white light, pirouetting through space as if accompanied by the finale to Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” With our heads angled toward the center of our solar system, we gazed transfixed at a cosmic singularity once feared by the ancients. Totality was total spiritual and soul-stirring wonder!

Driving south to Augusta when the fiery orb of the sun and the inert globe of the moon parted company, I found my imagination wondering about client totality. When are those moments when the asset and market sector spheres align so perfectly that we stare motionless before them? Could there be moments when a client opens her statement and finds no questions to ask, no concerns to voice?

My guess is waiting for such perfect alignment rarely if ever happens. I can, however, tell you when totality shows up. When a client feels his or her advisor is aligned with core values and shared purpose, totality breaks out. Every time we ask a prospect or client to tell us one defining moment in life’s journey and we genuinely, deeply hear them, totality appears as suddenly as dusk turned to night the afternoon of August 21.

Yes, totality in client relationships happens far more often and is measured more accurately in pregnant, connective moments than any review of our work or assessment of gains and losses. And yet, we persist in building relationships on numbers, performance, ideas, and results. Focused there, we seldom experience totality and in its place, shuffle around in the shadows scratching our heads why an account left us after all those years.

Last Monday’s totality was a master teacher. Here’s what I heard it say: Build your practice on open, empathic, caring, invested relationships and you will bring your practice and your business to a level of totality heretofore unimagined. Focus on events that shape and color lives, create joy or engender fear. Build bonds of human understanding no market hiccup can shake, and you will take off your eclipse glasses seeing with unfettered and generous awe the soul of those you serve—and they yours—in a totality no photograph or printout will ever capture.

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