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Habitual Mediocrity vs. Routine Excellence

If you want to distinguish yourself from the pack, then it’s time to stop cutting corners.

By Jeff Thorsteinson

Do any of these sound familiar?

“Let it go as it is. We don’t have the time to make it perfect.”

“We’ll hold the presentation in our office instead of the club; it’s cheaper.”

“We’ll just do it ourselves. No one will notice.”

“We don’t have time to check the details. Just get it done.”

“Sales are down. We can’t afford to market ourselves.”

“Everyone else in the industry does it this way. We don’t need to personalize it.”

“Just email the invitation. It’s cheaper. Same thing as snail mail.”

“Let’s discount our retirement account fees to $0. People will sprint to our door.”

“It’s the way we’ve always done it. We have neither the time nor the money to come up with something new.”

Habitual mediocrity—it’s everywhere.

Top advisors know that the time and money they spend on the details is an investment, not a cost.

If these decisions sound familiar, chances are you’re existing in a world of habitual mediocrity. Saving money, making your business more efficient or sticking to tradition all seem like good ideas. These decisions, however, can have the opposite effect.

In a culture of habitual mediocrity, you become a “reactor.” Reactors don’t have time to be creative, service-driven or focused on quality. Instead, they run from fire to fire, extinguishers in hand, putting the flames out just in time to prevent it from burning down the business.

Routine excellence—it’s rare.

Top advisors have broken out of this culture of mediocrity. They’ve worked hard to build a culture of routine excellence. And they’ve made that culture of excellence a competitive advantage. Top advisors know that the time and money they spend on the details is an investment, not a cost. So how do they do it?

Begin with telling the truth. You must decide for yourself if you exist in a world of mediocrity. A candid, honest team discussion of how your practice needs to improve will make everyone more confident in the future.

Establish a benchmark for routine excellence. Locate the best service provider, like a top hotel or restaurant, in your community. Investigate what they’re doing, and how they stand out from the crowd. Take those ideas and apply them to your business.

Lead by example. Demonstrate your commitment to routine excellence by implementing these ideas into your daily plan. Show your team what you mean by routine excellence through your improved attitude and behavior.

Make excellence a top priority for your team. Introduce the concept of routine excellence to your team. Set “excellence goals” together and strive to beat them. Show your team what you expect from them, and let them know how you’re trying to set a new standard for service and quality in your industry.

Ensure continuous progress. Because routine excellence is a “forever commitment,” establish a semiannual “excellence retreat” to review your progress and set new excellence goals.

Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Jeff Thorsteinson is president of the YouFoundation, an organization that helps advisors build world-class practices. As a speaker and consultant, he has delivered his practice-building programs to thousands of advisors. For more information, send an email to, call 800-223-9332, ext. 1, or visit the company’s website at


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