I don’t know Russell Wilson personally, but, in my practice as a professional sport psychologist for the past 33 years, I know a thing or two about what it takes to become a champion, about mental toughness and resilience to adversity, all of which Russell displayed in the NFC Championship game on Sunday, January 18.  In my practice as a “Success Coach” for financial advisors, I teach my advisor clients the exact same skills.

Like NFL quarterbacks, all financial advisors face challenges, adversities and setbacks during their careers.  For advisors, the “Super Bowl” of challenges is dealing with your clients during turbulent markets and dramatic financial crises and maintaining an optimistic, positive mindset, throughout. Will you be the advisor whose stress during such times leads to feeling hopeless and helpless, trying to avoid the angry and frightened clients who bang your door down looking for answers, while blaming you for the bottom falling out of their portfolios?

Or…like Russell Wilson, will you embrace the mindset of a champion, by maintaining supreme confidence in the face of adversity and bounce back from setbacks? Do you have a game plan on the back burner to deal with unforeseen economic disasters? Can you stick to your core values and game plan for managing your clients’ wealth, remain confident that (by remaining patient and controlling your emotions) you and your clients will come out on top, calmly reassuring them that you are worthy of their trust?

One important lesson to be learned from Russell Wilson is that we all have choices regarding how to assess a really devastating situation. We can assess it as stressful or we can assess it as motivation to learn from it and succeed. 

During the first half of his game against Green Bay, his performance was so poor that he had a zero quarterback rating, and he was playing the worst game of his NFL career. With his team down by a score of 16-0, one choice Russell had was to admit to himself that it wasn’t his or the Seahawks’ day, lose the belief that a victory was possible, and just try to get through the second half without more embarrassment.  In other words, play it safe, while expecting to lose.

But Russell Wilson does not give up.  Even with only a few minutes left in the game, with his team trailing by 12 points, he still trusted his ability to bring victory to the Seahawks.  Mental toughness is the ability to sustain your intensity and bounce back, despite setbacks, adversity, and unexpected obstacles.  And that kind of mental toughness paid off.

Advisors have the exact same choices when faced with challenges and adversity.  Will you fall back on self-defeating thinking habits, where anxiety and fear escalates and you begin to doubt your ability to advise and manage your clients’ wealth?  Or, will you trust your core money managing values, ride out the storm, believe optimistically that with patience “this too shall pass,” and your clients will be ever-thankful for your wisdom and consistency?