This morning I had a heart-to-heart conversation with a precious friend who is relentlessly seeking to be a fabulous patient. There are several uncomfortable and humbling aspects of being a great patient.

Most people with heart disease are not willing to change their behavior the way experts advise and instruct. They suffer premature death. My buddy loves life and his family so much that he’s mostly rejecting stupid pride in seeking to be as flexible as Gumby to increase his chance of a superb result.

He asked a great question about what separates most people who claim to want unusual material wealth, from the relatively few who actually earn it. The following five things separate great clients from people who have lofty aspirations but don’t achieve their oft-repeated goal.

Great clients know their values and priorities.

Count the cost of what you want. Many times, the juice is not worth the squeeze. In those cases, throw the notion away and walk quickly in the other direction. Steve Jobs and scores of others have expressed the idea that a decision to do one thing means the decision not to do 100 others.

Two examples are enough. Many people seek wealth; few are willing to be a Mafia hitman to obtain it. Less extreme but more common, lots of us would love to have more muscle mass and a leaner waist but not all of us habitually push back from the table when we’ve had enough.

Determining your values and priorities is what some writers call a “keystone decision.” When you know your values and priorities all the other decisions in life and investing get easier.

Great clients are emotionally intelligent.

Two-year-olds and fools are among the smallest packages in the world, a person all wrapped up in himself. In mediation training, we learned that you can have your way, or you can have your say, but you can’t have both.

So many of us are so selfish that we ignore the joy and the challenge of blessing others and gaining something as a byproduct. The pursuit of happiness typically fails. Happiness often comes as a byproduct of doing something good for other people.

People who love people are the happiest people in the world. Scrooge matured in his old age when he sought a goal more worthwhile than additional material wealth. It was only when he cared about others that the positive power of his money became useful. Previously he had been owned by the tool. Money is a great slave but a terrible master.

Great clients recognize their own and others’ emotions. They refuse to be hijacked by the emotion of the moment.

Great clients do their homework.

Many of us would love to have excellent health, a long-lasting beneficial impact, or financial independence. Success leaves tracks. In many areas of life, it is relatively easy to learn some fundamentals like: avoid excess sugar; get enough sleep; spend less than you earn; organize for adversity and adventure.

Dilettantes learn a few of the phrases but don’t make serious efforts to master all the detail. Intellectual knowledge is the easiest step, but insufficient. What we do with that knowledge, and the wisdom that can come on reflection after our first and second efforts have been unsatisfactory, produce deep knowing. Deliberate practice separates the excellent achievers from the mob of wannabes.

Great clients do the work to evaluate investments and the work to become better investors.

Great clients seek, respect, and apply professional advice.

Yesterday morning I paid for an hour with a sage asking her how to master a character flaw or a dissipating tendency that has marred most of my adult life. I had told her that she did not have to ask me a series of wise questions so I would discover the answer myself; she could just tell me plainly.

She did. It was shockingly accurate, as blunt as I had asked for, and as loving as I needed. She explained why gerbil-like activity kept me busy, while purposeful action on two or three vital things was dramatically more likely to produce significant results.

The next couple of months will show whether I break the bondage of chasing confetti and focus on what we both know really matters, or whether I will wander back into the known comfort of flailing at trivia.

Great investors seek out great advisors. Then they consider that advice and typically come to a better decision because of the extra wisdom and perspective.

Great clients pull the trigger.

One day, an obese smoker discarded her cigarettes and chocolates. Then she walked all the way to the stop sign on the corner. A woman I deeply admire told many people close to her she intended to run a marathon within a year.

People who saw her on the street would recognize her legs were too short and her body was too well-rounded. Yet within a year, she had pulled the trigger. She successfully completed something that 99% of the population never even attempt.

In the last generation, I’ve served 1000+ highly successful people who claimed that they wanted to do something which would provide them and their heritage with financial independence. Yesterday thousands of people heard distressing truth from their doctor and earnestly wished for better results. Many truths are simple but applying the truth is seldom easy. Great clients and great patients act to meet a challenge or seize an opportunity.


You have been successful before. Which of these notions resonate with you? What would you add to this list?

The question is more important than building wealth. Being a terrific grandparent, loving spouse, or champion encourager may be more important to you than material wealth. Whatever your aspiration is, what price have you paid to earn and enjoy outrageous success? Please share.


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

Click here and find out how Terry and his team can help you make the most important financial decision of your next decade.