Business and self-improvement books make up a big part of my library, especially when they have a research-backed or scientific bent. Highlights from last year include Daniel Pink’s When, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, and The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle.
I’ll devour a bit of fiction when I need to switch off my otherwise busy brain; Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami made the time fly by during a flight home from Cyprus at Easter. I’ll never say no to a good James Bond novel either.
And part of my process for interviewing podcast guests is to read their book ahead of time, admittedly often in less detail than when I read for leisure.
One genre I do keep coming back to though is military autobiographies, specifically about special forces operators.
This theme probably taps into the typical male fantasy of wanting to join the SAS. The tales of training and combat are about as far removed from life as a Financial Planner as they could be. But nevertheless they manage to inspire and motivate higher standards of performance in all aspects of life and work.
My current read is Can’t Hurt Me, the autobiography of former Navy SEAL David Goggins, described as the toughest man alive. I don’t have one tenth of his capacity for pain and suffering, but we do share a love of ultramarathon running. The approach he has taken to the production of his audiobook, blending a read of each chapter with a podcast like discussion, has kept me seriously engaged too.
Early on in the book, Goggins tells us that “motivation is crap”, but purpose is everything. This makes sense because motivation can be fleeting and easily distractible. Purpose on the other hand is ever present. It’s a powerful driver as we push on towards our goals.
When I speak to other Financial Planners, that sense of purpose is usually apparent. It’s been trendy in recent years to talk about, thanks to Simon Sinek and his book Start With Why, which unusually for a business book I found difficult to get into.
The great thing about purpose, other than its ability to keep us heading towards success when motivation is absent, is that is can inspire others. In a profession such as ours, where gaining the trust of clients makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful engagement, that inspiration from sense of purpose can and does get the right clients taking the right actions.
Purpose isn’t always that easy to identify. It’s likely there in some form already, but not necessarily obvious until you undertake some self-reflection.
For some, purpose is discovered when pushing yourself to the limits, mentally or physically. In others it seems to be forged in the fire of tragedy or otherwise tough times in life.
As Financial Planners, I think there’s a growing acceptance that what we do is about much more than the money. Purpose needs to play as much role in our own lives as it does in the lives of our clients.
Martin Bamford FPFS
Chartered Financial Planner
Managing Director, Informed Choice Ltd