Kneading the Dough

Kneading the dough

I used to be a chef – and I spent more than my fair share of time kneading dough.  But now I work with financial planners and clients.  The link?  I like to think of clients’ brains and minds as a ball of dough.  Let me explain.

Kneading the Dough

I used to be a chef – and I spent more than my fair share of time kneading dough.  But now I work with financial planners and clients.  The link?  I like to think of clients’ brains and minds as a ball of dough.  Let me explain.

Kneading is about stretching

When I work with planners and advisors, they’re often keen to solve a client’s problem and build a plan.  They want to come up with a solution.  And they want to do that as quickly as possible.  But really, we need to treat your clients in the same way that we’d treat a ball of bread dough – bear with me…

Once you’ve made your dough mix, you could just pop it in a loaf tin, stick it in the oven and you’d get a loaf of bread.

It would be bloody awful, but it would be a loaf of bread.

That loaf of bread could be so much better if we took our time with it.  So instead, we knead and stretch the ball of dough to develop its texture and rise.

Stretching takes our client’s mind to different potential solutions

When we knead dough, we stretch it in a particular direction.  Then we roll it back and stretch it in another direction.  And another.  It stretches the gluten, ensuring we get a beautiful rise and light and fluffy bread.

It’s exactly why we need to do the same with our clients brains.  The more you stretch and knead their brains in different direction, the more expansive a result we get when it’s left to rise (or ponder).

Kneading and stretching takes time

Just like with dough, when we stretch our client’s mind, it will inevitably shrink back. Old habits die hard and that’s why we need to spend quite a bit of time on the kneading stage.

If we’re talking bread dough, kneading takes a good 20 minutes of stretching before it should go anywhere near the oven – otherwise, you’re really just baking a big heavy lump of flour and water.

So when it comes to our clients, we don’t want to hurry to a conclusion straight away.

We want to muse to ponder, to stretch minds, to explore the unexplored and we have to work hard at it as the minds natural tendency will be to retreat ack to its original state. Just like your dough.

Let ideas ‘prove’ in your client’s mind

You’ve got to let ideas ‘prove’ in your client’s mind, just as you’d leave your dough to prove before you pop in in the oven.

Once you have broken those gluten bonds, you’re going to leave it somewhere cosy and warm to rest.  Then what happens?  It gently and slowly expands – all by itself.  And that is exactly what we want to do with our client’s brains.

We want their mind to stretch to the point where it starts to develop its own ideas and thoughts even after your session. It should take on a life of its own and use that energy that you kneaded into it to rise and become more than it would have been without it.

The value that you add is in the kneading. But you won’t see the results of it until after the baking.

Then knock it all back into shape

Of course, if we knead the bread for too long, we end up killing it – the process can’t go on forever.  Similarly, we don’t want our clients coming up with endless, ridiculously whacky ideas.  But it’s important to knead and stretch the dough just enough so that the dough rises into a beautiful loaf.

Ultimately, once the dough is risen and proved, we need to bring it back into shape.  So, we gather the dough back in and wrap it around itself to form a beautiful springy ball – ready to pop into the oven.  And when you look at it, you can almost see all the potential energy in the dough.

That’s what a great financial plan looks like.

Stretching and kneading make your financial plan magnificent

If we’ve done some really great mind kneading with our clients, and we’ve let things prove and settle, the end result will be far more magnificent.

The thing is, financial plans can all look the same.  So it’s more about how much work you’ve put in behind the scenes (all the kneading) to make sure that when it does rise, it rises into something more spectacular than your client could have imagined.

It’s not the ingredients – it’s what you do with them

And don’t be fooled – both balls of dough had exactly the same ingredients.  We didn’t sneak anything fancy into the dough to make our loaf rise beautifully.

A great financial plan doesn’t need to have any fancy, product-related stuff – that’s not what makes the plan more spectacular.  It’s the love, care and attention that makes a financial plan magnificent. It’s about expanding the mind, introducing new ideas and letting them breathe.

So just remember, when you’re trying to fast forward to a solution to impress your client, what’s most important is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven – not what it looks like when it goes in.

Same ingredients. Different result.

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