Legendary Keys to Success by John NowakSubmitted by Moller Financial Services on June 21st, 2016
"One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation." – Arthur Ashe
Arthur Ashe is one of the most distinguished Americans in our nation's history. While battling segregation growing up, he became the first African-American to win the National Junior Indoor tennis title, graduated first in his high school class, earned a tennis scholarship to UCLA, and won the NCAA singles and doubles titles. After college, Ashe would go on to win the US Amateur and US Open tennis championships - in the same year. He became the first black person (not just from the US) to win Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Arthur Ashe is ranked as one of the top tennis professionals of all time for his accomplishments.
Ashe’s mother, Mattie, suffered a heart attack and died from complications at age 27. In 1979 at the age of 36, Arthur Ashe suffered his own heart attack and decided to retire from tennis. Over his career, Ashe won over 900 matches and 50 titles, including five Grand Slams.
Arthur Ashe’s health problems were just beginning. In 1988, doctors discovered that Ashe contracted HIV from blood transfusions received during a heart surgery in 1983. Ashe battled his new medical challenge and founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS. Despite his efforts, Ashe died in 1993. President Clinton posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the greatest civilian award in the United States.
When looking for examples of successful individuals, Arthur Ashe is a good place to start. Let’s break down Ashe’s formula for success and apply it towards a successful financial plan.
The first step for achieving any desired outcome is to prepare. Benjamin Franklin took this to the extreme and said "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail". Whether your goal is to win a tennis match, draft the Declaration of Independence, or achieve a financially secure retirement, proper planning and preparation is key.
For this reason, Moller Financial begins client relationships with a personalized financial plan. This plan includes clarifying the desired goals, recommending specific actions, identifying opportunities to enhance wealth, and detecting potential financial risks. Since clients’ financial goals and circumstances change over time, we update and track the financial plan on a regular basis.
Managing an investment portfolio requires adequate preparation as well. What criteria is important when identifying an investment? When is the time to buy or sell? Which account is the best to use for minimizing taxes? What happens when (not if) the market declines 30%? Without proper planning and preparation, it is easy to make mistakes or miss opportunities when it is time to take action.
Preparation is a measurable activity or set of activities completed to achieve a goal. Self-confidence is the feeling you get when these activities are repeated enough times that the skills become second nature.
For example, I began working at Moller Financial in 2007 after my career in public and corporate accounting. That same year I decided to take part in the Chicago Triathlon. For my preparation, I rode my bike to work once a week from our condo in Chicago to Northfield. My weekend training included rides to Oak Street beach and swimming in Lake Michigan. Other days, I would run on various routes with my wife, Kim. This preparation could be measured by training time or distance. Yet nothing could measure the self-confidence I had the day of the event. There was no doubt in my mind that I would have a successful race. Self-confidence is the result of proper planning and repeated preparation.
I have oftentimes used the term "peace of mind" when describing one of the benefits of following a personalized financial plan. After thinking about Arthur Ashe's quote and my own personal experience, a better description of this emotional benefit is “self-confidence” - the feeling of trust in your abilities.
Broadly speaking, success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. An important part of our financial planning approach is defining or measuring success. Aim too high and you will probably end up disappointed. Aim too low, and you may have some regret that you did not achieve more.
Defining success can vary for each person. For example, ask 20 people you know to fill in the blanks for the following statement: "I want to comfortably retire at age ____ with a lifestyle of spending $_______ per year”. You will probably hear 18 different answers. In addition, each of those 20 people will have different careers, incomes, and ages. A plan-focused advisor considers all these factors to determine if there is a good likelihood of achieving a successful outcome. If not, what needs to change - the action plan or expectations?
Arthur Ashe's lifetime accomplishments are world class and his legacy lives on today. His lesson of achieving success through preparation and confidence can be applied to any venture. Moller Financial’s personalized planning approach and wealth management process is designed to help you define, prepare for, and confidently achieve success. We are thankful for being an important part of your plan.