The Client-centred Blog

Why mental clarity is the biggest game in town

Imagine someone who absolutely needs to be in the moment.

For safety’s sake.

Say someone like a surfer who is out there in the ocean hanging ten.

Picture this surfer riding a huge wave.

Can you see how thoughts don’t help the surfer?

What’s the surfer doing? Paying attention to the wave!

Information about what to do comes via insights arising in the moment.

There are no predetermined, premeditated actions or thoughts that can help.

What happens if the surfer on that massive wave focuses on what coulda/woulda/shoulda been done or worries about what will happen later in the day?

That’s right. Wipeout!

The above was written in the book ‘Meditation and reinventing yourself’ by my friend Alex Mill.

To me, what he points to is so brilliantly clear.

When we start thinking about what we are doing we are no longer in the moment, responding to what is, and the consequence is that we wipe out.

We can all relate to his example of the surfer wiping out, right?

Because it is dramatic and potentially life-threatening.

But what about wiping out in much more ordinary, everyday, non-life-threatening ways?

Wiping out is living in our heads.

It is wiping out because when we live in our heads, we lose the most important thing of all – clarity.

How do we know if we are living in our heads?

Life has a feeling or sense of tension to it. Relationships have little depth. You make decisions from fear. You are constantly distracted, living in the same thoughts and mental chatter just like a scratched record jumping back to the same place over and over.

Clarity, when you need it most, often evades you.

In this Coronavirus situation we can see how so many of the people who are in charge of making decisions lack clarity.

I was reading an article at the weekend about the response of various different countries and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway said, “I probably took many of the decisions out of fear”.

Decisions made from fear are usually the wrong decisions.

To bring clarity fully back into our lives, help bring it back into the lives of others and do amazing work with our clients we have to stop living in our heads and instead be in the moment.

When was the last time that someone was so present with you that you were deeply touched?

Maybe you cannot even remember because it was so long ago.

When was the last time you were so present with someone that they were deeply touched by you?

In our society we revere the intellectual mind. We have made it our God.

In our professions we place all the value on intellectual knowledge. You have been hoodwinked into believing that if you become an expert you will do great work, impact your clients and have a wonderful life.

How is that working out?

As Alex says later in his book:

“Your attention can only be in one place at one time. In one of two places – either here or not here. When you are not here, you are lost.”

The secret to clarity is in the simplicity

All you need to do is notice where you are.

When do you tend to get lost in your thinking?

When you begin to notice when you are not here this brings you back into the here.

But for the intellectual mind this is way too simple – surely there must be a process or some steps to follow?

No, awareness does all the work for you. I wrote in ‘The client-centred financial adviser’:

“The human mind is inherently designed to clear itself. If you watch a young child of three or four years old, you can see they experience a wide range of feelings, positive and negative. When experiencing states such as anger, frustration, sadness, distress or fear you can also notice just how quickly a child returns to the present and mental clarity.”

P.S. A friend introduced me to the work of the late Alan Watts, and he speaks so clearly to what I am talking about in the article in this video.


Leave a Comment

Related articles

Integrity: It is more important than we think 
As professional people we value integrity, right? We like to think of ourselves as being a person of integrity and we want other people to act with integrity towards us. To me, this seems at the very core of trust.
Value creation: the key to happy, loyal clients
This article is about value creation and why it is the key to happy, loyal clients and a thriving practice. Over the past couple of weeks, I have had two services come up for renewal. One was my car breakdown cover and the other was my car insurance. In both cases the premium had increased by almost 30% from last year. So, I rang both providers and invited them to reconsider their offer.
The most dangerous word in the English language
When we think back to when we were little kids, we never knew what limitations were. In fact, to little kids the very idea of a limitation is absurd. Our imaginations knew no boundaries and we lived in a world of pure possibility. You could be a superhero, be invisible, fly, or travel in time like Doctor Who.  As such, life was full of joy, curiosity, and wonder.
The timeless wisdom of Charlie Munger
Charlie Munger (now 99 years young) is a billionaire businessman, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and business partner of Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors of all time. He is asked about the secret to a long and happy life, and he replies: ...
The little understood power of the present moment
In a world where we seem to be so focused upon 'doing' it is so easy to forget that it's our state of mind that determines the quality of our actions, depth of impact, and overall quality of our life experience. For instance, I realised: *To truly connect with other people I had to be fully present with them *To perform better at anything I do then the quality of my attention is the most significant factor *Happiness and contentment are not circumstance dependent; they are a function of how present we are in our lives
Twenty signs you are on the path to truly great financial planning
What is the difference between 'average' financial planners and those who become truly great at what they do? I have been reflecting on this question for a while now and wanted to share my thoughts on this with you. I think it begins with the 'want to'. Do you truly want to become great at what you do?
My favourite Warren Buffett quote and why it matters
Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time and one of the world’s wealthiest individuals. He also has some very astute observations about life. My favourite is his observation that: 'Busy is the new stupid.' One time he was in discussion with another super successful person, Bill Gates, and they touched upon the subject of productivity.
A simple guide to living in flow
Would you like to spend far more of your time in a state of 'flow'? Flow is the experience of being totally absorbed in the moment, when time seems to stand still, and nothing else seems to matter. I was reading about the legendary tennis player Billie Jean King and how she described her experience of a game...
Why I stopped meditating
Last week I had a wonderful conversation with a friend who has a vast amount of experience as a coach and has worked with thousands of people. She observed that in her experience every single person always wants the same thing in the end. Ultimately, we all want to feel clear minded, present, happy, content, and free from the burden of worry and stress. Who doesn't want more of this?
The most popular client-centred blog posts of 2022
What have financial planners been most interested in over the past year? The following are my most popular client-centred blog posts of 2022. Most importantly, none of this would be possible without you. Thank you for your valuable time and attention - you are very much appreciated.
The 12 client-centred mind shifts - part 4
When 'The Client-centred financial adviser' was published back in 2015 the core message in that book was that who you are being is massively more significant than what you are doing. I even wrote a chapter titled, 'Being is the new doing'. For many years in my own business, I had focused upon doing with no real thought as to how I was being.
5 truths to help financial planners prosper in turbulent times
What prompted this article were a number of conversations I have recently had with financial planners who were worried about the current trading environment.  So, how do financial planners prosper in turbulent times when the economy is contracting, clients are tightening their belts, and media is spreading doom and gloom?
The twelve client-centred mind shifts - part 1
You have worked hard to become a qualified financial professional. You are making a difference in the lives of your clients and your business is steady. This is a big, well-deserved success and there is much to celebrate. Yet at this stage you might also pause, reflect, and ask yourself, “What’s next?”
How to transcend the financial planner comfort zone
Our comfort zone can be very limiting. For instance, it can hold you back from realising your greater potential, making a bigger difference to your clients, and experiencing greater success. So, in this article I explore what a financial planner comfort zone is and what it takes to transcend it. 
How to deal with imposter syndrome
Do you ever feel like an imposter in your role, that you will get 'found out', or do not deserve your success? If so, you are far from alone as this is extremely common amongst business people.
Resilience: An essential key to building a financial planning practice
Have you noticed how resilience has become a hot topic in business? For instance, there are TED talks on it, articles in the Harvard Business Review, and covid brought into sharp focus how unforeseen events can literally change our lives in a moment. This article explores a deeper understanding of resilience and why it is key for building a financial planning practice.
How do you become a great financial planner... not just good?
How do you become a great financial planner? One who has a powerful, positive impact in the lives of your clients? Of course, there are many attributes but one in particular stands out. Read on to discover what this is and why it is so important. What do clients look for in a financial adviser?
Better time management for financial advisers and planners
As a financial planner are you as productive as you would like to be? Would you like to get more done, in less time, and with none of the stress? In this article I am going to explore the hidden factor that leads to genuinely better time management for financial advisers and planners.
Building a financial planning business - overcoming the biggest obstacle
Building a financial planning business is not easy! In fact, you are far from alone if you find it challenging. This article explores one of the biggest obstacles of all and how to rapidly get back on track.
Why is client well-being increasingly on the agenda for financial planners?
Client well-being is fast rising up the agenda for financial planners. Why is this and is it something you should be focusing upon with your clients? In this article I explore why financial planners and advisers are increasingly focusing upon the well-being of their clients.
Time management for financial planners - why helpful tips are not the answer
How often have you felt like you had way too much to do, way too little time to do it, and you've stressed out as a result?
To succeed you must have self belief... really?
If you have a goal or outcome that is important to you and you want to go for it, then what does self belief and whether you have it or not have to do with it?