I was asked a few months ago to give a presentation at the financial planning department's alumni dinner at the University of Georgia, my alma mater, but they wanted something a bit different from my usual industry presentation. Instead of talking specifically about financial planning, they asked me to identify key life lessons successful advisors had learned - issues that, if you master them, can lead to a life and career that's extraordinary.

My first lesson is the most powerful and hardest to master: Whenever you make a mistake (all of us do, and all of us will), be strong about acknowledging and correcting it. Whenever you take bold responsibility for your mistakes, you'll likely discover the opposite of what you may have expected: that people don't think less of you. Indeed, you may increase your credibility with every mistake.

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