What if I told you that 10 years from now, your life would be EXACTLY the same? I doubt you’d be happy.
We have been talking about changes in the professions for quite some time now. The consensus is that to become a truly growth-oriented firm, all partners and employees must be of the mindset that innovation and change are essential. Yet, time and time again, we hear from professionals about the fear and hesitation to fully embrace the reality that typical tax return or audit work cannot sustain growth. The commitment to changing to a trusted business advisor firm is met with unease. Changing how an individual or an entire firm has done business after so many years is understandably terrifying.
The psychology behind fear of change far exceeds the professional services space. People experience a natural fear of change when their ‘comfort zone’ becomes uncertain, and they begin the shift of doing things that they are not used to.
I sat down with senior managers who recently graduated from The Rainmaker Academy®, our signature business development training program. I was interested to hear about their personal fears around change and how their commitment to changing the way they did business led to their success. I would like to say their answers were what I expected, but they weren’t. The impact of change for them, not only professionally but also personally, made an impression on me.
I began by asking them how they were introduced to the program. Both were approached by their partner group. Everyone, including the participants, had an open conversation about what the program would entail and agreed this was the right program for changing their business developments efforts. I asked both of them any fears they had about going into this program. They replied – of course they had fears! Both had serious concerns on whether they would be able to commit to change and, of course, the ultimate fear of failure.
Fear of the unknown, doubting oneself, and fear of rejection are the most commonly reported reasons people shy away from change. For the two Rainmaker graduates, their uncomfortable zone was that the program was asking them to become more extraverted internally and externally. One considered himself more reserved. Asking him to step out of that comfort zone and be willing to network alone was somewhat daunting. The other was naturally extraverted but lacked confidence in applying his characteristics in the work setting. The anticipation of showing that side of himself in a business environment was unnerving at times.
So when did the change start to happen? Both would agree that change did not happen overnight. Initially, they said, the best part was knowing they were not alone. Change is less scary when there is a sense of community. Atmospheres, like conferences and associations, find success when creating this open discussion forum. People find strength in numbers and take comfort in a community of others during times of anxiety or need.
The secret to any truly successful change process is not the intellectual property participants can walk away with, but the tangible benefits they can hold on to because of their commitment to change.
I asked our participants what tangible benefits they received from The Rainmaker Academy. The list included:
- Becoming more intentional around their networking efforts
- Establishing an accountable business development purpose and plan
- Having a larger personal network
- Becoming more assertive with partners and staff
- Becoming more engaged in their careers
- Gaining more confidence
- Becoming better communicators
- Enriching their leadership skills
- Getting rid of the terror of rejection
We ended our conversation with them sharing how they are now helping others in their firm with their business development efforts through “cascade training.” The ability they now have to share their story of success and inspire others in their firm to change their behaviors is incredibly valuable.
Do not settle for whatever happens in your business. Growth is intentional. If you are interested in building advanced business development skills for yourself or your team, we invite you to learn more about The Rainmaker Academy®, our signature program honed over 25 years and newly revamped for 2019. It is available either in an open-class format or as a custom in-house program brought to your firm. Download the brochure or visit to view upcoming classes.