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Your Income and Expectations are Programmed (good and bad)

With a network of loan officers spanning 7 states, I as the CEO was keenly focused on their success and performance. We had a pacesetter report that tracked each loan officers key production numbers and activity and it was posted every Monday for our entire organization to SEE. This social proof allowed everyone to visualize a 'range of possibility' within our company. How does one move from Impossible to I'm Possible?

One day while working 1:1 with a producer, we talked about his specific struggles, his inability to move up on our pacesetter report after years of working at our firm. He was having relative success, but he was stuck, rarely making over $60,000 in 1998 ($113,000 in today's dollars)... he literally made the same amount for 5 straight years.

We had what was an emotional conversation for us both. His father (like mine) hadn't graduated from college, and both had worked a trade most of their lives. His father (like mine) was someone he loved deeply, and had tremendous respect for what he'd overcome in his life. Where we were different, is that he'd started work directly after high school, and hadn't gone to college. I had gone to college. I knew those who went to college often earned more than those who did not, but what difference does that have to someone working on direct commission based sales? He was a very smart and capable person.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” James Clear

Then, in that conversation he said something that surprised us both. 'My dad worked so much harder than I do, and I don't deserve to make more than he did.' I asked how much his dad made, and he said 'I remember him saying he had never made more that $56,000 a year.'. The light bulb went off for both of us at the same moment. He was trapped in an idea of self-worth, and his only real role model was his dad. I had gone to college and experienced 'rich kids'. I wanted to be more like them.

I did something without telling my loan officers what I was doing. I sent out a survey to all my loan officers asking them to share their parents income level to the best of their knowledge. I also asked them who they most respected in their lives. We mapped the producer and we mapped our entire organization (total average) and it fit. Those that had gone to high school tracked very closely with their parents income level in their production (which should have nothing to do with their production income). Others (namely that went to college or had wealthy upbringing) were different (they often made 2X to 10X) their family income base - and I thought the main difference was their attending college. That wasn't really it.

However, I thought the difference was education, so we started focusing on education. We wanted to teach out loan officers fiscal literacy and wine tasting and other things that made them feel more comfortable upgrading their own self-worth. What I didn't realize until much later, was those who spent time with the top producers at these events saw their production increase, they started to believe I'm not different than that person, if they can do it I can do it. I realize now (20+ years later) that so much of our expectations for ourselves are programmed in by how we view our own value. What you read, and who you spend your time with today are leading indicators of your income in the future.

“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results” James Clear

In this article by the New York Times, they discover that it's about who you spend your time with as a child that sets many expectations about your worth and income. Poorer kids seeing rich kids (for example) stimulates their imagination of what is possible.

Tip: Ask yourself. What programming am I doing to myself right now? If you want to change yourself, you have to change your environment. What are you reading? Who are you spending time with? What new insights, capacities, capabilities, and awareness did I build last week? Don't underestimate the raw power of community to transform you over time. Find your crock pot of greatness and stew in it, so you are stretching your own beliefs of what is possible and letting go of unknown programming from the past of which you are largely unaware.

“We imitate the habits of three groups in particular: The close. The many. The powerful” James Clear

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