I don’t know Joe Flacco personally, but I know a thing or two about what it takes to perform like a champion, as he did by leading the Baltimore Ravens to an upset victory in the 2013 Super Bowl. With 33 years of experience as a professional sport psychologist, I have counseled and trained many professional football players and world champion athletes. They all have to face challenges, adversities and setbacks during their careers. One thing most had in common was that they suffered from “impostor fear” and they learned to overcome it.
Impostor 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 unable to meet the challenges he faces. In Joe Flacco’s case, he was always unheralded, first by entering the NFL
out of I-AA University of Delaware, where the level of competition was not regarded as highly as large I-A programs. 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 San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick.
Advisors can also experience this impostor fear, worrying that their success is due 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 major performance anxiety. I have helped many athletes overcome their impostor fear so they can consistently perform at their best. The exact same set of skills that I teach them can be employed by advisors.
For example, 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. Following a series of confidential interviews with a sample of advisors in the firm, it became clear to me that many were suffering from anxiety, not only because of the market conditions and because of the somewhat unrealistic performance expectations of their president, but also because they harbored their own internal insecurities.
Consequently, I designed a series of training programs to teach the advisors how to recognize and overcome their fears, maintain an optimistic and proactive approach with their clients, use active listening skills
to provide excellent client service, overcome stress and anxiety and ultimately how to retain new clients. What was the most important issue I helped these advisors overcome? You guessed it: impostor fear. Stay tuned for part two this series, where I will discuss the origins of impostor fear.