Adversity, whether it’s market volatility, difficult clients, obsessively worrying about whether to merge with another practice, etc., impacts all financial professionals.  Avoiding adversity is impossible.  But what you do about the adversity is totally under your control.

I consult with many advisors who get anxious, depressed and even burned out by the adversity they face consistently in their careers. Because of my 33-year career as a professional sport psychologist, I teach all of my clients how to employ “Mental Toughness” skills to overcome all challenges and develop the mindset of champions.

To put it simply, it’s never the difficult situation or negative events impacting your career that are the problem:  It’s how you respond to them that determines your success. The ability to perform your best when it matters the most is the mark of a champion’s mentally tough mindset, in any profession.

The 2015 Kansas City Royals
In this year’s World Series, the Royals certainly displayed a wonderful combination of resiliency and mental toughness. Here was a team that finished last in the American League in walks and second-to-last in home runs. Here was a team that believed in its core values, regardless of what the so-called pundits thought. Here was a team that was built with hitters who avoid striking out and tend to have contact ability, a skill ignored by the so-called pundits of the sport. So they focus on the process of hitting the ball, not the outcome, such as the score or the number of innings they have left to turn a game around.

The Royals embrace the core value of optimistic expectations, regardless of where they stand in a game. The Royals enjoyed an amazing 51-11 scoring margin from the seventh inning on in this postseason! More than 40 percent of their runs were scored in the seventh inning and beyond. When they were down by two runs in the ninth inning the other night and scored two to tie the game, it was obvious that they expected to go on and win, while the Mets players had the loser’s mindset of “here we go again.”

Players who embrace the expectation that they can and will come back, regardless of the score and regardless of the inning, maintain more resiliency to adversity and are more mentally tough.

Advisors Need To Develop The Royals Mentality
Think about your mindset when you are faced with adversity, such as the markets going haywire. Do you question the investment decisions you made for many of your clients and worry that they will be upset with you? Do you question your core values as they relate to investment strategies? Do you worry about a bad outcome, such as a client firing you?

You have choices in the way you interpret adversity and the expectations you maintain for how you will manage such adversity. Maintain the expectation that no matter how dismal the market situation seems today (like no matter what inning it is or how many runs you are behind), you know from experience that the markets will turn around and your core investment values will be vindicated.  

Anticipate that certain clients may give you a hard time when they watch their portfolio values tanking, but that is part of the process of making the best choices you can for them and if they cannot see the lush valley beyond the mountain currently in front of them, then perhaps you would be best served by cutting them loose from your practice, anyway.

Just as the Royals proved, remaining focused on the the keys to the process of planning and guiding your clients will ultimately lead to positive outcomes.  Patience, optimism and the mental toughness to stick with your plan as you navigate the minefields leads to a champion’s mindset!