Becoming a More Mindful Advisor

Beverly FlaxingtonBeverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Readers,

Often in my work with advisors the subject of stress arises. Persistent deadlines, team members who quit at the least opportune time, difficult and challenging clients and unexpected life events, like illness or family difficulties, add to the stress. But you can minimize stress by becoming more mindful in your day-to-day advisory work.

In this week’s column, I’ll share some of these ideas. Whether or not you are a calm and sanguine advisor, you might find some tips helpful for others on your team:

  1. Have a focus each day. One of the things that sends our minds racing and puts us in a state of disruption is facing a day where you have a plan, but other things intervene and you find yourself putting out fires. Sometimes you can’t control the fires, but you can control your focus for the day. Start the day by listing three things you need to accomplish and stay attentive to during that one day. Every time your attention gets pulled away, come back to what you established as the areas of focus. Not only will this get your mind oriented to one thing, but it will help you become more efficient and allow you to get things done in the midst of chaos.

  1. Take time to slow down. A client calls and you are compelled to return the call as quickly as possible – that’s a natural inclination (unless of course it is a difficult client in which case you may delay…) Before you return a call, walk into a meeting, engage in a discussion with a team member take a few minutes to focus your mind on what you’d like to accomplish in the interaction. Be aware of your state of mind and your posture and body language. This is important even over the phone. You want to get into interactions with others relaxed and open, but alert. Sometimes when moving too quickly from one thing to another, there isn’t time to get your mind oriented so commit to take a few minutes before hand to just breathe and focus.
  1. Speaking of breathing, your breath is a very useful tool to calm yourself and become more mindful. The mind can’t focus on two things at once, so if you focus your attention on your breath, you have to empty your mind of other thoughts. Picture a blue balloon in your stomach and when you inhale you inflate the balloon, and when you exhale you deflate it. Several times throughout the day, you can take 1-2 minutes to sit and just breathe. Do this anywhere you have privacy and won’t be interrupted.