“I feel alone. I can’t get my team to understand the value of digital growth. There are people holding onto the past because it’s just the way things have always been done.”

This might be you. This might be your team. Or this might be your entire financial brand.

In fact, many are not even aware they're struggling with this challenge. 

These are good people fighting this battle in their own mind. They all want the best for their financial brand. They want to see it grow. 

But, why are some people getting stuck holding onto the past?

Through our Digital Diagnostic Studies for financial brands, I’ve identified three patterns that I believe are contributing to this problem. 

These three challenges are pitfalls to progress and continued growth.

Pitfall #1: Fear is the Enemy of Your Future

This first pitfall is deeply rooted in basic human nature. In fact, there are four fears to be aware of and to be mindful of. Some are spoken to me openly by the teams that we're working with through diagnostic studies, others are more whispered in secret behind closed doors, and some might even deny that they're struggling with one of these fears.

1. Fear of the unknown

2. Fear of change

3. Fear of failure

4. Fear of success

Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with some type of stressful stimulus. And think about all the change that we have been experiencing in financial services, and we'll continue to work through as this industry travels through the post-COVID world.

Because of this change, our body releases chemicals that increase our heart rate and our flight or fight response kicks in.

Now we may not experience panic attacks when it comes to maximizing our digital transformation initiatives, but at one level or another, any type of change that we're thinking about making requires some type of risk.

We know this industry is especially prone to risk aversion, and that's a really good thing. We are dealing with people's money. We should be responsible stewards of their money.

But at what point does our risk aversion become a liability? When does it become a cost?

Think about how many times your fears have never materialized. If fear begins in the mind, then fear can be controlled, managed, and eliminated by the mind.

fear-1

Fear can best be thought of as an acronym:

False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

Oftentimes in digital transformation projects, we put too much focus on technology and not enough consideration on the most volatile variable in the whole experience of transformation: people.

It is human nature to fear change. We would all much rather stay in our comfortable caves of complacency where it is safe and warm.

But you don’t have to venture out of the cave and into the unknown alone.

Let's traverse the digital transformation journey together.

It starts with the mind.

Pitfall #2: Getting Stuck “Doing”

There are so many financial brand marketing sales and leadership teams are stuck operating on autopilot. And because they are operating on autopilot, they're overwhelmed, barely keeping their head above water in a sea of post-COVID chaos and confusion.

 

And the idea of remote work that we've all experienced, is not helping either.

But I don’t see it going away and going back to what life was workwise pre-COVID. 

Our personal and work lives have become even more blended than ever before. 

This is why I believe that PTO should be transformed from personal time off to please take off.

Please take time off. 

If we find ourselves operating on autopilot, stuck in a continuous mode of doing, then we become a liability. We become a cost.

I call these days, “me days.”

These are days when we, as marketing and sales leaders, get to step away from work. 

No email. No business books. No industry journals. 

When we step away from work with no email, no business books or industry journals, we get to truly rest our minds and our professional life will improve. 

And to be quite honest, this has transformed my personal life, too. 

If digital transformation begins in the mind, and if our minds are tired and burned out, our transformation initiatives will feel like a struggle, if not an impossible feat to achieve and ultimately realize.

Pitfall #3: Digital Distractions That are Deadly

Are you the master of technology or has technology become the master of you?

Transformation requires clarity and focus. And it’s the distraction of technology, the tools that are actually supposed to help us transform digitally, that might be the reason we end up slowing down or no longer making progress. 

Distraction destroys transformation.

Just for a moment, I want you to think about yourself and your daily habits. Are you a slave to your inbox? How quickly do you reply to your email? And on the flip side of that, how quickly are you expected to reply back to an email by your team members or your leadership team? How many times a day are you being distracted by a message, social media notification, or even a phone call?

This is why I've done two simple things to eliminate as much distraction as possible. 

  1. I removed all distractions from my phone. I took off my internet browser and my social media apps. And during the day when I need to do deep work and really focus, I turn on “do not disturb.”
  2. I installed an app in my email called Inbox Pause. It let’s me work in my inbox without having to worry about getting new emails while I'm in there, which leads to digital distraction, a loss of focus, and a loss of time. 

For us to succeed and achieve digital transformation, we must get good at creating strong digital boundaries with ourselves, our teams, our friends, and yes, even our families. 

So if there's one thing that you can commit to taking action on right now, it would be to schedule a “me day.” Your brain will thank you. Your team will thank you. And it is something that you can commit to doing together, as a team. 

A Simple 4-Step Plan to Move Towards the Future with Confidence

I want to look ahead and look towards the future to create a path together with you. A path that can light the way for you to leave the cave of complacency and move onward and upward. 

To do this, I want to give you a four-step plan you can apply to either helping yourself or someone at your team get unstuck and break free from the past. 

Any type of transformation must begin with thinking. How many of us when faced with a new challenge or a new opportunity, just dive in? 

In my personal past, when I've just jumped in and started doing, the results were never pretty. I lost time, I lost money. Relationships were damaged. 

So what does it take to truly transform our thinking, which will create a far greater value for us, for our teams, for our financial brand, for the people in the communities that we're serving in this post-COVID world?

Step #1: Stop getting trapped and stuck “doing” the work. Create space and time to review, to learn, and to think. Review where you've been, gain insights, and learn from what you have done. Think about those insights and how you can apply them going forward so that you can do whatever it is you're doing even better. Otherwise, you will remain trapped into what I write in my book Banking on Digital Growth, The Circle of Chaos, feeling confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed.

Step #2: Gain clarity into the greatest growth opportunities ahead. Commit to ongoing training and in doing so, you will overcome the unknown. Isn't it ironic how training is one of the very first things to get cut when budgets get tight? Ongoing training in this digital world is what illuminates and lights the path forward for us to continue down our own journeys.

Step #3: Build your courage and commitment with strategy. Strategy will be informed by the insights that you gain through training. And it's the strategy that provides the path forward for you to overcome the fear of change and the fear of failure. Think of strategy like a blueprint or a roadmap that helps you avoid the pitfalls that will slow you down, or the dangers that threaten to derail you.

Step #4: Eliminate a competitive mindset and focus on collaboration. When you focus on building capabilities, your confidence will increase as you measure progress, not perfection. Progress is what propels you forward and faster along your journey, as opposed to looking ahead towards the demoralizing digital mountain that you have to climb. Measure where you've been, where you've come from, and don't look ahead at what you have to do next.

Bonus Tip: Transformation of any kind will always start with training and education. Training will eliminate the fear of the unknown. Training will allow you to gain clarity into a future that has yet to be written. And with that clarity, you can commit to creating the future with courage and confidence.