If you want to make an impact in the lives of your clients, weave stories into your conversation. In my experience, the best source for those stories is remembering and sharing turning point moments from your own life.

All financial professionals go through some training regimen. Beginning with securing your needed licenses, you learn your firm’s resources and learn sales and practice management processes. My years in the business brought me to an awareness that every program should dedicate at least a day, maybe more, to self-awareness. Everyone trainee would be asked to write a two-page autobiography focused on people and experiences that have shaped their formative years.

The good news is you can do that now. Start with these five, story sources.

Parents. Who were my parents? What about grandparents and extended family? Were there ethnic or language dissimilarities that set them apart from the communities in which they lived? If you had siblings, how did they shape who you are? How would you describe your environment? Poor or affluent? Affirming or critical? Religious or secular? Two or single-parent home? Safe or threatened?

What about Education? Public or private schools? What value did my family place on reading, math, science, the arts, and sports? Was being educated understood as a box you check or was framed as a lifestyle of learning?

Conflict Resolution. How was the conflict resolved? Are their painful memories of domestic violence? Did you learn from your parents how to disagree, resolve conflict, and, when needed, find reconciliation and healing? How did your parents express differences of opinion?

Then there’s Money. What role did money play? How did your parents manage money? Were they employed or did they own their own business? If employed, was the company small or large? Local or national? What did you learn from them about budgeting, investing, and fiscal accountability?

Loss. When tragedy, loss, or death showed up, how did you and your family handle grief? What role did religion, spirituality, or faith communities play in your family? How do those moments in your past inform how you now manage losses of all kinds?

These types of questions serve as the background for writing your personal story. The narrative does not have to be long, but it must be reflective, critical, and above all, honest. An advisor who grew up in a lower-income family where manual labor put groceries on the table will have a different money perspective than an advisor whose memories are of country clubs, golf lessons, and exotic family vacations. 

We all come from backgrounds as diverse as the spectrum of light. When I was in the business, I worked side by side with colleagues who had diverse family histories that had powerful and meaningful influences on their client relationships and work ethic. 

Acknowledge and put your personal story to work. 

Take a sobering look at your past and identify areas in your background that reveal clues to your personality. Refuse to look away no matter what you see, much less deny the good, the bad, the wisdom, and breakthrough moments from your past and present. When you begin to curate stories from your story, you will place into your practice a tool that builds relational bridges with clients. And when the client’s story and your story connect, you are not far from establishing a transformational relationship unlike any other.

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