January 14, 2021

Only A Paraplanner?

Do you ever feel that you might be existing in a parallel universe?

You know…
Blissfully unaware of events and people that others seem to see as obvious and commonplace.

Such as the life and recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Arguably the most widely recognised, celebrated and respected female lawyer of all time.

A brilliant advocate for the changing of laws which had entrenched the bigotry and myopia of the dominant White, Middle-Aged Male in North American (in all?) society.

Love her… hate her…
You couldn’t ignore her.

And she transformed life and opportunity for millions of women.

I was asking myself “Ruth Bader… Who?!”

It wasn’t until the divisive fight began to fill the large gap that she left in the Supreme Court
That I realised, during 2019, I had watched a gripping, throat-choking film depicting the long, exhausting battle for her voice to be heard.

Last year (remember that strange, disruptive era?)…
I was reminded of the comic, wilful blindness and the prejudice that still flourishes in our business sector….
by a conversation with the Managing Director of a financial services organisation.

She had been at the receiving end of a conversation (with a middle-aged fellow) which labelled her as:
”A Young Girl.
Just a Paraplanner.
I Was Hoping to Speak to The Director of Your Company.”

The conversation would be so very funny.
If it wasn’t so desperately sad.

As one CIA director in a Jason Bourne film commented…
”You Couldn’t Write This Stuff!”

In the book ‘The Flight of The Soul Millionaire’, I recount a similar tale.
The story of a young lady who thought that she was “Just A Paraplanner”

(I know, I know. I’ve told the tale at many a conference, workshop and webinar since then.
But, honestly, it’s such a good story!)

I called her into the quarterly director’s meeting.
Initially, she thought she was there to observe and take notes.

With a little prompting, she realised that she was there to make comment.
”Oh, right!”
I knew she had an bright, incisive mind.
And this firm needed it to be put to use!

Within 48 months of that meeting…
She had so clearly demonstrated the power of Moral Leadership.
(The ability to take a long-term, selfless view.
The capacity to Do What Is Right…
For the morale of a willing team…
For the wellbeing of each client)…

That she became the CEO of that financial planning firm.

And since then…
a persuasive voice of innovative leadership…
a beacon of light…
in the rising generation of Financial Planning Leaders.

Smart financial planners…
smart leaders in financial services…
recognise that there are brilliant minds surrounding them in every team.
Male and female.

And, frankly, the truth is…
It might not be themselves!

Those minds are merely waiting for a leader to stop constantly grabbing the air time in meetings;
to stop micro-managing;
to stop assuming that the greatest ideas and innovations flow from The Top.

And then those minds will be freed to blossom and flourish and astound and leave us breathless!

So, here’s my view.
The untapped, innovative, burgeoning power in the financial planning sector…
The insightful perspective that clients so badly need from us…
The hope of a more selfless, compassionate generation…

is probably bubbling in the untested mind and courage…
of the employee-with-a-different-perspective sitting right in front of your face.

The challenge is this:
Can you see what I see?

And do you know how to lead…
such that this stunning mind and heart and character…
is given the opportunity to flex their courage, and to surprise and shock you?

Or must we forever be steeped in our limiting assumptions of which gender holds the superior strategic capability?
Must we forever fall for the demeaning myth and mindset that the founder of the firm probably possesses the best answers?
Must we continue to pay the price of such narrow cultural prejudice?

Because, know this.
There really is no such thing as “Just A Paraplanner”!