The Most Powerful Secret for Advisor Success Over Stress

By Dr. Jack Singer

How do you explain setbacks and unfortunate events, such as the stress of having to call a very difficult client after the market tanks, to yourself?

How do you persevere and remain resilient under adverse circumstances, which are part and parcel of every financial services professional’s career?

Do you look at setbacks as overwhelming catastrophes or as challenging hurdles that can be overcome?

As you know, I wrote The Financial Advisor’s Stress Mastery Guide with more than 77 proven prescriptions for success over stress for financial advisors.  Advisors frequently ask me if I had to choose the most powerful, researched-based, proven psychological strategy to build resilience to stress, what would it be?  Here’s the answer:

Maintain Optimistic Expectations, Despite Every Setback and Challenge You Face in Your Advisory Role

This sounds simplistic, but the psychological definitions of optimistic and pessimistic expectations are not as simple as looking at the glass half empty or half full.

Burgeoning research by Dr. Martin Seligman, “Learned Optimism,” involved hundreds of studies where financial professionals were assessed as to whether they were hard-wired through their DNA and life experiences to interpret negative events and setbacks in their lives with optimistic or pessimistic attributions and expectations.

Those who dealt with the setbacks with an optimistic expectation were significantly more successful and less stressed than their pessimistic counterparts and their washout rates were half those with the pessimistic orientations.

This concept is so powerful, that Dr. Seligman and his associates have even shown strong relationships between optimistic expectation and eradication of diseases and life extension!

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The Good News…Every Advisor Can Learn to Overcome Their DNA and Life Experience Hardwiring to Become an Optimistically Oriented Person!

How Pessimistic People View Setbacks

When bad things happen, pessimistically hard wired people tell themselves such things as, “It’s my fault, it’s a permanent flaw of mine, it’s always going to be this way, probably for the rest of my life.”

They look at the unfortunate outcome or setback as having an internal cause, being permanent and pervasive, indicative of their overall incompetence.

I refer to this kind of self-talk as “linguistic toxicity.”  It leads to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, adding not only stress but often depression to the advisor’s moods.

How Pessimistic People View Good Outcomes

You would think that when good things happen (e.g., market rallies) that even pessimistically hard wired advisors would feel relief and calm.  Wrong! When good things happen to pessimistically hard wired people, they typically view them as:

  • Externally Caused (“It was a fluke or luck.”),
  • Temporary (“This won’t last.”)
  • Exclusive (“I was lucky with the recommendations I made to my clients and how nicely they have done in this market, but l still don’t view myself as a competent financial advisor.”).

How Optimistic People View Setbacks

People who are hard wired or learn to give themselves optimistic explanations for setbacks that take place in their lives view them as follows:

  • Externally Caused (“This was a fluke.  No one predicted that the market would be so volatile this week. It’s an aberration, and I can’t take responsibility for this drop in the value of my clients’ portfolios.”
  • Temporary (“It is highly unlikely that these market conditions will last.”)
  • Exclusivity (“I had difficulty dealing with a few of my aggressive clients, but I allayed the fears of the bulk of my clients, and they love the work I do for their wealth management.”)

I refer to this type of self-talk as “linguistic nutrition.” These optimistically oriented advisors go with the flow and keep their outlook very positive, regardless of the obstacles and challenges they face. 

How Optimistic People View Good Outcomes

Optimistically oriented people expect good outcomes to occur frequently.

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my skills, work ethic and motivation that makes me the very best advisor my clients could ever work with.”)
  • Permanent (“I certainly expect good things to continually happen to my clients and me, despite the challenges that go with the territory.”) 
  • Pervasive (“This is just one example in my life where I have the skills and talent to be successful.”)

Obviously, it is extremely important for people who are not hard wired to be attributing unfortunate outcomes optimistically to learn how to remove their pessimistic thinking habits and change them to optimistic ones.

Wondering how to make the shift from pessimism to optimism, consistently?  Any licensed, cognitive-behavioral therapist is equipped to help you to make these consistent changes, which will change your life. If you wish to discuss how I can help you to accomplish these changes, via phone or Skype mentoring, simply contact me at (949) 510-5660.