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3 ways sobriety made me a better advisor

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Seven years ago I was running a successful financial planning practice, but as a divorced father of three boys, my life felt unmanageable.

Then, on Oct. 21, 2013, I quit drinking. It was a turning point for me. Beyond the Serenity Prayer, which asks us to accept the things we cannot change, I’ve learned other lessons in sobriety that have carried over to my career and every other portion of my life.

Here are the three most profound lessons that have changed me as an advisor.

1. Our common welfare should come first; success depends on unity.
When my partners and I started our own company in 2016, we wanted to recreate the kind of culture we’d grown to love in our previous firm. My co-founder, Scott Mitchell, and I have been working together for more than two decades and we were better together than either of us would be on our own. The Ray Kroc quote, "none of us are as good as all of us,” has become a life and business principle I live by.

People rarely, if ever, get sober alone. In sobriety and in business, being part of a group allows you to benefit from the experience, strength and the hope of those around you.

2. What other people think of you is none of your business
As a young advisor, I focused on what I should do and was consumed with what others might think of me. Older people made suggestions about where I should live, how I should dress and where I should go to be seen.

I took their advice but ended up feeling incredibly inauthentic and unhappy.

As I continued in my sobriety, letting go of what others might think reinforced the importance of my job as a planner — to help clients discern and livetheir dreams rather than living out some idea influenced by what their parents did or what their friends planned to do.

Being sober has given me the freedom to discover myself, writes advisor Chip Munn.

3. Take it one day at a time
This concept has been particularly helpful in leading a team and clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because for someone committed to sobriety, there’s never an end date in sight. Instead, we learn to shift the focus to the present, on today, because the idea of never drinking again is just too daunting.

I sense a similar weight when talking to clients and teammates during the pandemic. Sharing my experiences with taking things one day at a time has helped me shift their focus to the small steps they can take to stay sane in the middle of a crisis with no definitive end.

In the seven years, our practice has grown from $250 million in assets under management to $1.5 billion and we’ve expanded from one office to 12 locations in three states. We’ve created a community of like-minded advisors and their teams who share common goals and who believe that by working together we can accomplish more than we ever could alone.

Along the way, being sober has given me the freedom to discover myself and to inspire both clients and other advisors to do the same.

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