Turkeys, Admission and the curiosity of a mistaken fool.

I reckon the old saying’s true

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance…

However when I look back I wonder how much of my adult life I spent on the ‘arrogant’ side of that line.

I don’t think I’ve been ‘arrogant’ in a nasty or malicious or egotistical way. However I reckon I spent a lot of my early adult life (probably up until my early thirties) thinking I was the bees knees!

However, and looking back, I realise how foolish I was!

Whilst being confident can be massively beneficial I see stepping over the “line of arrogance” as having a few issues…

We stop learning as much due to thinking we “Know it all” (or at least more than we think), when often the opposite was true.

We think that ‘natural talent’ governs our achievements which means we start to be complacent about the importance of hard work.

and

We start to ignore the mistakes we make, both in life and in work.

In the past few years (and especially since starting my business) I’ve tried to remain relatively confident but ‘parking’ the arrogance. In practice this has meant…

I’ve realised how much I don’t know and therefore I’m on a permanent mission to learn.

I work harder than ever.

and

I try to admit to a lot of the mistakes I make and learn from them.

However this creates an issue, and one I’m struggling with so I need your help answering the following question…

Should you publicly admit you make mistakes?

Let me explain the context…

I’m in the process of writing my first book.

However I’m struggling in a big way!

Not with content (I’ve written a decent number of words over the past couple of years which I could potentially use) but with structure and narrative…

…and then a couple of weeks ago….an idea hit me!

I’ll talk about some of the financial mistakes I’ve made with my own personal finances as a framework to what I’ve learnt (and continue to learn).

I shared this idea in conversation with someone in our profession who is well known for his insight. Someone who has been through the publishing process. Someone I like, respect and whose counsel I trust…

He thought the idea was a turkey.

He didn’t put  it that way but gave me some valid reasons why it might not be, erm, the greatest idea in the world!

The impression I got was he felt that for a financial planner to admit financial mistakes was foolish.

I get that.

I countered that I’d prefer to work with a financial planner who could admit they are  fallible and seek to improve both themselves and their business to improve the service they deliver.

He retorted that I should consider my existing clients and how they’d feel about the book.

I countered with the fact that hopefully that our relationship was deep enough (and they know me well enough) to  understand my desire to be as open as possible. It could also potentially be a great client hygiene exercise too….

The more I think about it the more I’m not sure who’s right…

There are plenty  of financial businesses who focus on strong, secure branding and imagery (SJP and some of the Networks spring to mind). You’d never find a businesses like this admitting they make mistakes and maybe they’ve got it right.

Maybe the key to business success is to be the expert (which we all should be as far as expertise allows) but with no admittance of ever getting it wrong (which is the bit that doesn’t sit comfortably with me).

We don’t have to look too far back to see the danger of large (and some smaller) financial institutions and their leaders pretending they know way more than they do and making terrible decisions because of this. I’m not  sure how many of these mistakes are down to the leaders over confident bullishness but I wouldn’t mind betting it’s a fair share.

Maybe I’m a bit strange (actually I know I am!) but I identify and admire with leaders who have passion, drive and ambition but combine these attributes with a humility that allows them to admit they are human (and not superhuman) and therefore admit they make mistakes (and continue to learn from those mistakes).

So, the question all of this boils down to is…

Should a business owner, financial planner or any professional publicly admit to their past mistakes voluntarily?

Does it make you think worse or the person or potentially better?

and

If admitting error is a commercial mis-step…How do you balance commercial reality with the challenge to be an authentic and genuine person?

I look forward to your thoughts