The Road to Flourishing

To Prosper; To Thrive

I’ve been captivated over the last few years by the word flourishing.  It’s a common word in David Bahnsen’s vocabulary, and to me, flourishing really describes what we should all aspire to.

When we think about flourishing, we should invoke this idea of prospering and thriving in whatever environment we find ourselves in.  For me, it even taps into this idea of really living up to your potential and maximizing the God-given talents that were endowed to you.

We understand this idea of flourishing as individuals, but even furthermore in a corporate sense.  Flourishing as a church community or flourishing alongside your colleagues in business, or flourishing as a family.  This is an even deeper aspiration that we would prosper in and with our community.

Yet, flourishing isn’t how all of us would describe our life and current status.  So, what’s missing?

If flourishing is the goal, what is the path to get there?  I can’t claim to be able to pave that whole path in this article, but I do want to submit one key thought/idea for you to meditate on.

Trust is a Must

I was recently listening to a podcast interview, and the interviewee was concluding the discussion by talking about his interest in studying countries of affluence.  In his use of the word, flourishing could easily be substituted for affluence.  His curiosity was in studying the similarities of these countries and in looking for clues to what leads to flourishing.  He was looking for a theme, a pattern, a common thread between these flourishing nations.  Amongst all the variables and particulars of this diverse list of countries, he concluded that the answer to this one question was a dominant determinant for flourishing:

Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted?

In societies with high trust, flourishing was/is present.  Said another way, trust is a key component to flourishing.

This simple truth resonated with me.  For my marriage to flourish, it needs to be built on a foundation of trust.  In order to flourish at work, I need to be both trustworthy and be trusting.  For a client/advisor relationship to flourish, it must be grounded in trust.

Trust. Is. Everything.

Words Without Influence

Last week I found myself in a meeting with a group of leaders from my church.  The purpose of the gathering was to address a struggling young man with the hope of speaking into his life.  Our intent was to present him with some perspective regarding his behavior and life choices and ultimately to help him pivot in a better direction.  I was encouraged by the fact that a group of high-character and influential leaders were all devoted to helping this young man turn his life around.  The meeting was rich in wisdom and guidance, yet I had this gut feeling that these words weren’t taking root and delivering the impact that would be assumed.  I listened for most of the meeting and was asked for my input at the conclusion of the gathering.  I felt inspired to tell this young man that nothing that was said today would make much of a difference because I could see that he didn’t truly trust any of us. I encouraged him to find someone he does trust, someone who is trustworthy, someone of good character, and to take their guidance.  I knew the young man needed help, he needed direction, but I also knew that without trust, I couldn’t really help him.

A Two Way Street

Here at The Bahnsen Group, I serve two roles, I care for and serve clients individually, and I also help to mentor and oversee a group of advisors.  As a coach, I get to hear about a lot of different client questions and interactions that bubble up to me.  Sometimes advisors are simply asking for planning strategies, and the conversations revolve around the technical side of finance.  There is also the personal side of personal finance.  Perhaps an advisor is troubled because they feel like they are not gathering the full financial picture, or they are surprised when their advice is not heeded.  My response is always the same, “That client doesn’t trust you.”  I’ll speak firsthand that we drive a culture of integrity and competency – key components to being trustworthy – yet it is a two-way street.  Trustworthiness must be met by trust for flourishing to prevail.

Most of you reading this are probably on the client side of the equation, not the advisor.  So, what is my advice to you?  Why did I choose to write this article? I wrote this article to pose a very direct question to you – do you trust your advisor? If the answer is no, then stop reading this article and go abandon that relationship as soon as possible.  For you to flourish financially, you need a trustworthy advisor that you can trust.  Please don’t misunderstand me here, and I am not advocating for you to blindly trust your advice-giver.  Actually, quite the opposite. I want you to trust with eyes wide open, I want you to ask a ton of questions to expand your understanding, and I want you to flourish alongside your advisor – both in wealth and knowledge.

A relationship without trust is… uncomfortable.  We find ourselves questioning someone’s motives, challenging every recommendation, and being more combative than collaborative.  These relationships are not healthy; these relationships are toxic.  These are the types of relationships that drain your emotional tank and leave you empty for the other relationships that matter most.  Again, abandon these non-trusting relationships.

Character Counts

I’ll wrap up our conversation here by peeling back the layers one more level.  We’ve concluded that flourishing should be the ultimate aspiration in all facets of life, and flourishing depends on a foundation of trust.  For some, the word trust may sound like a mushy or hard word to grasp and digest.  I encourage you to continue to pull on that same thread and ask yourself where does trust come from?  Trust is a belief that someone else will care for you in a similar manner to how you’d care for yourself.  Trust can be found in honesty and candor, trust can be found in humility and empathy, and trust can be found in love and sacrifice.  You want to find a partner – whether in business, life or for advice – that emulates these qualities I described.  Why? Because trust is everything.

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About the Author

Trevor Cummings

Private Wealth Advisor, Partner

Trevor is a Partner and Director of our Private Wealth Advisor Group.

As the author of TOM [Thoughts On Money], Trevor endeavors to write and speak about financial concepts and principles in a kind of “straight” talk demeanor and posture.

He received his Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Biola University and his MBA from California State University, Fullerton.


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