Goethe’s Creed

“If I accept you for who you are, I will make you worse, however, if I treat you as though what you are capable of becoming, I will help you become that.” ~ Johann Goethe, German Playwright and Author

Everyone in their life needs somebody to expect greatness from them. It is absolutely essential, and when a person knows that someone expects greatness from them, it is such a powerful feeling. It eliminates doubts, fears, and concerns of that person, because they know that someone believes in them and someone thinks that they can succeed.

As leaders of teams, whether we are a captain of an athletic team, or a group in school, or running a business, or running a financial advising practice, or running our family, we have to realize that we can’t accept people for their current state, because we are always evolving. We are always progressing. We are always improving, and we should be striving to get to that next level. It is our objective to not accept them for who they are, but rather treat them as though they are capable of becoming what we know they can become.

And so it is the parent who doesn’t treat the 10-year-old like a 10-year-old but rather says, “I’m going to treat you like a 12-year-old, and the reason that I am treating you a little above your age is so you develop and start becoming more mature.” It is the giving out of responsibility. It’s the coach who doesn’t treat that brand new person as a freshman or a rookie but tries to make him grow. It’s going to be day one right away. I have a choice today. I can treat you like a rookie, or I can treat you like a veteran. I hold veterans to certain standards. I am not going to be as forgiving, and I’m not going to expect you to make rookie mistakes and all those things.

In our particular business of running a financial advising firm, on day one when new advisors come in, I tell them I have a choice. I can treat them as a day one financial advisor or I can treat them like a top producer in this firm. I can start creating the expectation that you will make a mark on this business from today forward, because if I do, that I will help you become a top advisor. I ask them what they would prefer that I do, and almost everyone says to treat them in terms of what I am capable of becoming and we agree upon that.

So now when they are setting their goals and objectives and they are always lofty, it’s fine. As a coach and their leader, it is my obligation to them to be a good coach. If I can get them to hit those goals and objectives, it’s a permission slip that allows them to hit their goals. I can be tougher, if you will, as long as it comes from a foundation of love and support. You have to prove that you are being tough, because you want them to succeed. So that’s the main lesson: If we accept people for who they are, we will make them worse. But if you treat them in terms of helping them become what they are capable of becoming, they will ultimately become that.

I tell people that it is my responsibility to work with someone to help them reach their goals and objectives. With each person I work with, the very first thing I do is share Johann Goethe’s quote with them, and then I explain what my objective is and why I’m doing it. We selected each other. That coach selected that player. That employer selected that employee and visa-versa. They selected each other, because they believe that together they could do some pretty spectacular things together. A leader has to have high expectations, which must come from a foundation of love.

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