As a performance coach in New York City to many competitive wealth managers and advisors around the world, I have become profoundly aware of the need for the skill known as mindfulness as a prerequisite for success. Previously I have lectured and written about some of the foundations of my “Bullish Thinking Mindset” and how to become emotionally disciplined as an advisor.  Once an advisor has mastered Bullish Thinking, they are ready to learn about the “3 R’s” that are essential for success and how they have helped so many advisors take their businesses to lofty heights by following them closely and adhering to them on a daily basis.  The three R’s that successful advisors adhere to in order to reach the Optimal Performance Zone are:

  1. Recognizing
  2. Resilience
  3. Routine

For the purposes of this column, I will tackle the first R since it is strongly correlated with mindfulness. The first R of my success formula is for Recognizing the symptoms of both cognitive and emotional distress stemming from emotions such as anger, anxiety, worry, frustration, and sadness. As we go up the continuum of emotional intensity on a theoretical 10-point scale, the negative impacts of these emotions can become more and more pronounced and visible to others and can consequently impact an advisor’s performance.

 It’s important to be cognizant that not all emotion is bad when we are attempting to perform a task under stressful or complex circumstances. In fact, for athletes performing in the clutch, it is optimal for them to be experiencing anxiety of about a 5 or 6 on a 10 point scale. Even anger and frustration at this level across the emotional spectrum can be used for productive means by manifesting itself as a competitive attitude. When athletes or advisors channel their emotions down to this optimal range, what sports psychologists refer to as the “zone”, they can become more focused, motivated, and are better at letting their bodies and minds work synergistically for a better overall performance.

These states of emotion are accompanied by both physiological and biological changes. Both athletes and advisors must notice the physiological changes in their bodies that can be a direct result of unproductive emotions. These physiological changes include an increase in heart rate, headaches, muscle tension, sweating, and a shortness of breath. 

 Self-awareness and mindfulness before a big call or presentation enable one to recognize these self-defeating emotions, physiological changes or bearish thoughts and actively manage how they perform under the spotlight.

I prescribe simple strategies to advisors whom I coach that have been successful for competitive athletes. These useful tips allow both athletes and advisors to tone down those strong self -defeating emotions and replace them with more manageable and competitive ones.

The Prescription

  • Bullish thinking Thought monitoring log: I assign thought monitoring logs to the advisors that I coach on a weekly basis. On it, I ask them to attempt to work through job stressors that are personal to them as a means of practicing the skill of creating emotional discipline. This tool allows them to put their self defeating bearish thoughts under a microscope in real time so that they can challenge them and take back control over their emotions. They are also forced to identify what they are feeling both emotionally and physiologically.
  • CALM ReminderIn order to tone down the physiological (once it is noticed) that can negatively impact an athlete or advisor who is about to hit the spotlight, I assign a progressive muscle relaxation exercise which can be used prior to game time. Clients can focus their minds on emotionally neutral visual imagery while tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups. This allows one to reboot their minds and discharge the “noise” that can impair their overall performance.

It’s important to reiterate that you should be using these thought monitoring logs or the CALM reminder to tackle any work stressor in real time as soon as your emotions take a turn for the worse, and your performance declines. Keep your head in the game and stay focused on the prize.