5 Habits for Developing Mental Toughness

5 Habits for Developing Mental Toughness

By Matt Oechsli | @mattoechsli

“You’ve got to have crocodile skin to be the best,” explained Doug after landing a $20 million client, which put him over $100 million in new assets for the year.  

As I’ve always said, this game is won on a seven inch playing field between the ears – the mind. Doug had to learn how to dress, socialize, and sell himself in wealthy circles. Being able to handle rejection was a major part of his learning curve (far more challenging than dressing the part). Although he’d get upset (usually at the prospect), Doug never took rejection personally, and by plowing ahead he was able to develop “crocodile skin.”

Doug’s story is good news for other financial advisors, much like mastering the art of affluent sales, your mindset can be developed as well. The following are five ways advisors can develop mental toughness.

1. Visualize Your Day

Olympic athletes visualize their performance just as they want it to be, over and over in their mind. Phil Jackson, when coaching Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls was known for taking the team through his version of meditation, quieting the mind, relaxing the body in preparation for peak performance. By investing five to ten minutes in the early morning, sitting upright, concentrating on your breathing, and visualizing your upcoming day, you’re preparing yourself for peak performance.

2. Work from a Daily Priority “To-Do” List

Most people tend to procrastinate when it comes to activities that they don’t enjoy or that pull them outside their comfort zone. Mental toughness requires discipline to stay on task, despite those little devilish thoughts that might be dancing in your head, or how you might feel about executing a particular task. Creating a daily Priority “To-Do” List creates a critical path for you to stay on throughout your day. There are times when you may need to take a break, recharge your batteries, and then return to working through your plan.

3. Execute One Out-of-Comfort Zone Activity a Day

Developing crocodile skin requires you to experience failure, which is all about taking calculated risks. One of the most effective ways to do this is to identify the activities that make you uncomfortable and commit to executing one a day. Keep a record of this including the out-of-comfort zone activity, what happened, and what you learned.

4. Avoid Negativity

The human species has a built-in negative bias, which is why there’s so much negative news, so many naysayers, and so much complaining. You want to avoid overindulging in the news, destructive conversations, and negative people whenever possible. When forced to interact with negative people, play a mind game of thinking the positive counterpoint to their negativity. This will serve as a protective shield.

5. Stop Overthinking

Most people think too much. Too much thinking leads to negative thinking, which leads to worry and doubt, all of which are cancerous to productivity. We refer to this as the negative programming cycle. The insidious nature of this cycle (it doesn’t start with negative thoughts, it begins by overthinking) often causes it to go undetected. It’s the old analysis-paralysis syndrome. Overthinking will keep you from executing your daily out-of-comfort zone activity, it will interfere with completing your daily priority “to-do” list, and lead to the negativity you want to avoid.

Everyone should always be working to strengthen their mental toughness, especially financial advisors who have to deal with rejection. In my 40 years of coaching financial advisors, I’ve yet to encounter an elite advisor who wasn’t mentally tough.

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