Preface: I’m aware that there are some really dedicated fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy out there. If I get some facts a bit wrong, please forgive me!
The Captain In The Bath
In the book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, there is a scene where Ford and Arthur arrive on a new spaceship and are taken to meet the captain. Who, inevitably, is having a bath. On the main flight deck.
They asked the captain the purpose of the ship. The captain explains that they are fleeing their home planet, which is over populated and is therefore dying. Having met to discuss what to do, the politicians decided that everyone should leave the planet and find a new planet to inhabit.
Three massive space ships were built, and the people divided into three categories, determining upon which ship they would travel. One ship would carry the practical ones; the builders, the engineers, the architects. Another ship would contain the thinkers; the business leaders, and the politicians.
This final ship contained everyone else. The estate agents, lawyers, and, yes, the financial advisors. This is the ship upon which they were currently standing.
So, asks Ford. Where are the other two ships?
Ah, says the captain. We are the lead ship. We were asked to go on ahead to find the new planet, and the other two ships will leave shortly after. They’ll be right behind us.
Are you in regular contact? asks Ford.
Well, says the captain, we haven’t actually heard from them since we departed, but I’m sure there are right behind us.
(In case the penny hasn’t dropped, there never was a plan to populate a new planet. The plan was to get rid of a third of the population – the useless third – by saying that they would form the lead ship to find a new planet, and then pretending to follow. The first two ships never left. Rather clever, actually!)
So Which Ship Will You Be on?
When I meet new people, I often think to myself: which ship would they be on? It is also a question I have often asked of myself.
Before setting up Ovation Finance, as an employed financial advisor recommending products, I have no doubt that I would have been on that lead ship. I was providing a service that people could do themselves if they could only be bothered.
Then when I started Ovation I was determined to do more than just use my technical knowledge. With proper financial planning, I think I may have had a case to make for being on one of the other ships, as I was making a difference to people‘s lives. Still, it was something that people could do themselves, if they spent the time learning the systems. Ultimately, I think I was still on the lead ship.
Once I started coaching, however, I think I may have made the leap. There is one thing that we cannot do, and that is to challenge our own assumptions. By helping people work out what they would like their future to look like, and then use financial planning to create a path to get there, and then use technical knowledge to make the journey, I started making a real difference.
Of course, let’s not kid ourselves. If I was selected to stay on the planet, my coaching skills would not help to feed anyone! But coaching skills help people to make better decisions, and that has a genuine value. Maybe even enough to avoid being assessed as being placed on that lead ship!
Chris is a diploma qualified business coach and works with advisers and owners on building practices, and for succession planning. He is one of the country’s leading experts in the Employee Ownership Trust. He can be contacted at [email protected]
If you would like to learn more about coaching skills for advisers, you can attend one of the one day courses, or take the certificate in coaching, both run by Quiver Management.