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  • Writer's pictureRichard DeSalvo

The Illusion of Control

The Mistakes We Make in Flight to Our Comfort Zones

Included in our collective blind spots is an over-reliance on staying in our comfort zones. In general, people are most comfortable with what they already know. When we enter a new situation, there are unknowns that often lead to anxiety.

I often hear about people “leaving” or “growing out of” their comfort zone but I don’t believe it’s possible to do either. Instead, I think we are simply expanding our comfort zones like an interstate highway that adds new lanes to relieve traffic. The route has not changed but it can accommodate a greater volume.

This is not to say that you should drastically expand your comfort zone to the detriment of personal priorities. If you sacrifice certain comforts that create your ideal working circumstances, success will be short-lived. Some examples of personal priorities include where you decide to work (home vs. office), the hours you spend at work, and whether you prefer to work alone or with others. These decisions seem simple but have a large impact on your happiness which will affect overall performance in any role.

Conversely, there are some aspects of your professional life that are preferences and not priorities. These are little “create comforts” that you may want or like, but do not need. Whether it’s your favorite coffee house, the settings on your cell phone, or the options on your car, a little change will not harm your performance.

Think about which parts of your advisory/planning practice are priorities and which are preferences. Does your current firm:

  • Continually require you to make compromises?

  • Often change the terms of your compensation?

  • Fail to provide middle and back office support?

  • Misunderstand who you are and where you wish to go with your business?

Many advisors would answer “yes” to at least one of these questions and yet, would fail to act in order to improve their situation. Because it’s an arduous and time-consuming process, I understand why advisors don’t like to make professional changes. In order to avoid this situation, we try to maintain control and rationalize the aspects of a firm that make us unhappy.

Examples include:

  • “They don’t help me grow my business but, since my boss leaves me alone, I’m fine.”

  • “They change my compensation a bit here or there, but I basically make the same amount.”

  • “They don’t have all the products my clients want, but they have most.”

  • “The technology we use is outdated and the support is mediocre at best, but I can make it work.”

  • “Operations and technology always have issues when I need to trade or move funds around. It’s frustrating, but they’re working on it.”

No platform or business model is perfect, but you must decide how much you’re willing to compromise your preferences and priorities to feel that you have control. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “One must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.” I believe it’s time to take control of your career and consider firms that will treat you like an individual and listen to what’s important to you. Don’t let others take your voice, be heard.


Rich DeSalvo

CEO and Founder

f3Logic, LLC

Where Fiduciary Freedom is First

Download our ebook – 90 Questions for a Better Decision

Advisory services are offered through f3Logic, LLC, a registered investment advisor.


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