In my long-time career working with elite athletes, I discovered that there were three predominant habits that good athletes had which sabotaged them from ever becoming champion or world-class athletes.
In my work with financial professionals, I discovered that the exact same self-sabotage habits exist. The first step is recognizing these habits in yourself and the next step is stopping those habits and the final step is replacing them with healthy habits.
Common Self-Sabotage Habits
Most insurance producers, wholesalers, financial advisors, etc. have had situations where unexpected information has led them to worry about catastrophic outcomes.
Let’s look at the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule, as an example. Many financial professionals are panicking over the uncertainty about how this rule will impact their business, their clients and potential clients.
“Catastrophizing” is believing that the worst case scenario is 100% likely to take place, thus leading to worrying and stress. So, for example, many advisors are worried that the Rule will result in them losing clients, having to drop retirement products from their services or being sued for not following the fiduciary rule.
As with most “toxic thinking patterns,” one can stop catastrophic thinking by asking him/herself the following questions:
- What is the real probability that what I am worrying about will actually happen?
- Could I be overreacting when I conclude that this can put me out of business?
- Can I find a silver lining in this perceived dark cloud?
Putting this new series of thoughts in your head whenever you feel the stress of worrying about a catastrophe taking place in your life will pay huge differences. Practice this regularly.
In the case of the DOL ruling, there are ways you can look for the silver lining. For example, use this as an opportunity to position yourself and your services in a positive way:
- Capitalize on the rule to position yourself as a client-focused advisor. Use the ruling as an opportunity to educate both your current clients and potential clients, pointing out the benefits they’ll attain by working with you.
- Use blog posts and newsletters to create valuable content, explaining what the rule means to your clients. Explain how the rule helps their family portfolios and millennial money. Explain how the rule fits with your core values of always providing your clients with very best products that they need in order to have peace of mind as they grow older.
- Be proactive. Use SEO and keywords so new clients can find your advisory business through information about the fiduciary standard for retirement accounts. Update key pages on your website to include information about how your practice plans to comply with the changes required by the fiduciary rule.
We all fall victim to this exercise in self-sabotage.
We take cues from others’ expressions, attitudes, behaviors, etc. and decide that their behavior is a result of something we did or didn’t do.
Think about times that you have assumed that a colleague or supervisor is upset with you, when, in fact, that never was the case.
As with Catastrophizing you can stop “mind reading” by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the real probability that what I am thinking here is reality?
- Could there be other reasons that explain why his/her mood is so bad today? (For example, it could have been a situation that took place at his home before he came to the office.)
Maybe I can help him/her by being sensitive and kind whenever I am around today. I can avoid bringing up issues I know will irritate him even more. I will remember that like always, “this too shall pass.”
Many financial professionals possess typical “Type A” personality traits. Among the most self-destructive of these traits is “perfectionism,” the struggle to be perfect in almost every thing you do.
You may ask why this is a bad thing. The simple answer is that attaining perfection is impossible over the long run and struggling to achieve it is highly stressful.
Moreover, perfection is not necessary for you to succeed at the top of your game. Does an Olympic Gold Medal winner have to be “perfect” in order to win the gold? Of course not. He/she has to do their best consistently and that is all they can ask of themselves.
Unfortunately many advisors have a parent they modeled growing up, who may seem perfect to them or who encouraged striving for perfection. This leads to an “all or nothing” belief system, in which you feel like a failure if you are not perfect.
Think of a time in your career when you set a goal for yourself and did not attain it. Did you feel like a failure as a result? Did it erode your self-confidence and self-esteem?
The solution is to catch yourself striving for perfection and then do the following:
- Ask yourself if you really need to have a perfect performance in order to feel really good about yourself and be considered a success.
- Read about world-renowned leaders, inventors, business tycoons and very successful mentors you have had in your field. Look for the “imperfection” in their history and how that did not deter them. For example, did you know that R.C. Macy had several store failures before he was ever successful? He didn’t let early failures make him feel like a failure or deter him from his dream. Did you know that Col. Sanders had restaurant failure after failure before hitting on his KFC idea and formula once he was in his 60’s?
- Take an inventory about the ways you struggle with perfection and take the “risk” to be compassionate to yourself and accept imperfection as ok in your life and career. You’ll be amazed at how you will grow your career without the unbelievable stress that accompanies striving for perfection!
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