What Advisors Can Learn from Joe Flacco

By Dr. Jack Singer

I don’t know Joe Flacco personally. But I know a thing or two about what it takes to become a champion, as he did by winning the 2013 Super Bowl.

With my 33 years of experience as a professional sports psychologist, I have counseled and trained many professional football players and world champion athletes. They all face challenges, adversities and setbacks during their careers One thing they had in common was that most “imposter fear” – a psychological obstacle that many advisors experience-

Imposter fear occurs when, no matter how much confidence or even swagger an athlete may display to teammates, opponents, coaches, or his fans, self-doubt nags at him, and he worries that he will be exposed as inadequate to the challenges he faces. In Joe Flacco’s case, he was always unheralded, first by entering the NFL out of I-AA Delaware. Pundits wondered if the unassuming Flacco could perform on the big stage of the Super Bowl, and they predicted that in the line of fire he wouldn’t compare to the much ballyhooed quarterback of the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick .

Advisors can also experience “imposter fear” – worrying that their success is owed to luck and somehow they’ve fooled others into believing they are skilled advisors. They believe that it’s only a matter of time before that luck runs out and they are exposed. This is a frightening prospect. They anticipate embarrassment and ultimate failure in their career. This fear of failure causes performance anxiety.

I have helped many athletes overcome their “impostor fear” to consistently perform at their best. The exact same set of skills I teach them can be employed by advisors. I was recently invited to consult with a wealth management firm whose president was concerned about inconsistent performance from a large percentage of his advisors. Moreover, because of the ailing economy and a roller-coaster stock market, his assets under management were declining sharply. [Note: For confidentiality reasons, the name of the firm is not mentioned and the advisor names listed below are not the actual names of my clients]

Following a series of confidential interviews with a sample of advisors in the firm, it became clear to me that many from anxiety, because of the market conditions and because of the somewhat unrealistic their president, but also because they harbored their own internal insecurities. I designed a series of training programs the advisors how to recognize and overcome their fears, maintain an optimistic and proactive approach with their clients, use active listening skills, overcome stress and anxiety related to their job and ultimately lead to their clients directing new referrals to them.

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