Mental Toughness Lessons From The 2016 Super Bowl Quarterbacks

By Dr. Jack Singer

With 34 years as a professional sports psychologist, I know a thing or two about mental toughness, overcoming adversity and what it takes to become a champion. As I watched Super Bowl 50, I noticed a striking difference between the quarterbacks on those key points. Peyton Manning displayed all the characteristics that make up a champion both in the regular season and the Super Bowl. Cam Newton, on the other hand, had an excellent season but you could tell he was overwhelmed by the adversity that he faced in the big game. In my practice, I now focus on being a “success acceleration coach” for financial advisors. However, I think both quarterbacks offer excellent lessons on how advisors can remain resilient in the face of adversity.

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 like we have seen since the beginning of 2016. How can you remain optimistic, with a positive mindset when facing such challenges? Will you be the advisor whose stress during such times leads to feeling hopeless and helpless, or will you be able to remain resilient, believing in your core values, see the future in a very optimistic way and continue to thrive?

Falling Victim to the “Cam Newton Mindset”

Make no mistake about it, Cam Newton is a champion, as he demonstrated all season. After all, he was just named the regular-season MVP. But, Cam has rarely dealt with a loss in an emotionally healthy way. This could be simply immaturity or it could be more insidious.
He could have a mindset that does not prepare him mentally for adversity that could strike at any moment in a game. You could read his body language in the second half, as he was apparently feeling hopeless in the face of a relentless Denver defense.
Instead of preparing himself to dig deeper and grind during setbacks, he made more mental errors and frustration seemed to dominate his emotions. This is equivalent to the advisor who does not prepare him or herself for the inevitable adversities inherent in the profession. You all know advisors who thrive during robust markets and lose their confidence during volatile markets, especially when they are confronted by upset and frightened clients.

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Embracing The “Peyton Manning Mindset”

Peyton Manning embraces the mindset of a champion, by maintaining supreme confidence in the face of adversity and consistently bouncing back from setbacks. Look at his season, filled with disappointment, interceptions and even a devastating foot injury. Yet he continually prepared himself to perform his best when it mattered the most and when the next opportunity presented itself. The New England AFC Championship game was a remarkable testament to his resiliency.

Although Peyton didn’t have a spectacular game in the Super Bowl, he didn’t get so overwhelmed playing the favored team that he was error prone.  On the contrary, he remained optimistic and grinded through adversity, including having the ball stripped from him late in the game.

Do you have a game plan on the back burner to deal with unforeseen economic disasters? Do your stress levels skyrocket when the market tanks? 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 continually worthy of their trust?

One important lesson to be learned from both Peyton Manning and Cam Newton is that we all have choices regarding how to assess a really devastating situation. We can respond to adversity with frustration and anger, or we can assess it as motivation to learn from it and embrace the next opportunity that presents itself.

The Mentally Tough Advisor Is A Winner

Mental toughness is the ability to sustain your intensity and bounce back, despite setbacks, adversity, and unexpected obstacles.

Advisors have choices about how they will respond 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?

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