Last Saturday night, like most West Australians, my family propped ourselves in front of the TV to ride the rollercoaster of Ash Barty’s Wimbledon final against Karolina Pliskova. There was a lot of joyful clapping and fist-pumping around our living room when Ash ground out the win in the third set.
What we can all learn from Ash Barty
Now, you might think the most impressive thing about Ash is her number one world ranking in tennis and her two Grand Slam titles. But for me, I’ve always been most impressed with the way she goes about her business. Ash provides such a terrific example and as someone whose kids play representative-level sport, I’m constantly pointing out to them her ability to:
- Not attach her self-worth too strongly to her sporting wins and losses
- Put poor performances in the sporting arena into perspective and move on quickly
- Be a good person no matter what.
After Ash’s Wimbledon win, both Casey Dellacqua and Jelena Dokic (former Australian tennis players) paid moving tributes to Ash’s parents as people who have contributed strongly to the above. It was very heartening for me to hear this from a parenting point of view.
Unrealistic expectations – a universal problem
From a professional point of view, this interview with Ash’s mindset coach, Ben Crowe (recorded before the Wimbledon final), really caught my attention. If I was to paraphrase Ben in summarising the biggest messages I took from that interview, it would look something like this:
There are two expectations that are killing performances all over the world. And in fact, they’re probably killing the world. One is expectations of outcome, which you can’t control. Two is expectations of others, which you also can’t control. Focusing on something you can’t control, but wanting to control it, is the definition of anxiety or stress or pressure or worry.
The process of mindset coaching is about accepting the things you can’t control, letting them go, getting them out of your psychology and focusing your attention back on the things you can control. And the things you can control are your intentions and actions.
Everyone also has opinions and judgments about whether something is ‘good’ or something is ‘bad’ and so forth. But nothing is ever that good or that bad. It just is what it is.
When you let go of labelling things ‘good’ and bad’. And when you let go of your expectations around outcomes and about others, life becomes this beautiful adventure, a work in progress, an experiment into the unknown. And that’s exciting.
Whew – inspiring stuff! I can see why Ash has worked with Ben for years!
And the reason Ben’s words were interesting to me from a professional point of view is because I realised much of what he does with Ash is what we do with our clients.
Financial planning – more mindset than money
If you’ve never used the services of a professional financial planner, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re just money managers or investment portfolio managers. But the reality is, in the same way that Ben is Ash’s mindset coach for tennis (and much of what he does also heavily influences how she comes at life), we are mindset coaches for how you manage your money. (And how well your money is managed has huge spillover into how you’re able to come at life.)
One of my favourite books right now is Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money. One of the key points the book seeks to make is:
Doing well with money isn’t necessarily what you know. It’s about how you behave. In the real world, people don’t make financial decisions on a spreadsheet. They make them at the dinner table, or in a meeting room, where personal history, your own unique view of the world, ego, pride, marketing and odd incentives are scrambled together.
The bit where he mentions ‘personal history’ and ‘your own view of the world’ and how those things affect behaviour … that’s the space we spend a lot of time working in at HPH. New clients are frequently amazed at the effort we put into understanding their individual psychology around money. But doing this is critical to us being able to be our clients’ mindset coaches around money.
Most of what we do is centred around helping them understand:
- What’s truly important to them and what isn’t (what’s worth attaching their self-worth to, and what isn’t)
- What’s within their control and what isn’t
- Which expectations are realistic with regard to their money, and which aren’t.
Setting life up to be a beautiful adventure
What Ben Crowe has been able to achieve with Ash wasn’t achieved in a single one-hour session. It’s come from working together for years on Ash’s intentions, behaviours and mindsets to release herself from the anxiety of unrealistic expectations by focusing only on what she can control.
Similarly, we choose to work primarily with clients who are looking for an ongoing relationship that lasts for years.
The thing I most loved in Ben’s words about the work he does with Ash is that it sets her up to approach life as a beautiful adventure. I can confirm that this too, is the best part of our job as financial advisors. We love the way our work allows us to play a meaningful part in our clients’ lives over the course of many years and the way it allows us to be part of so many beautiful adventures.