In the pursuit of new talent within the accounting profession, firms can encounter candidates or new hires that appear tenacious, but might not actually have the fortitude to succeed in a rapidly-changing environment.

Dr. Jason Selk, former director of mental training for the St. Louis Cardinals and a nationwide performance coach, outlined his method of mental toughness as a keynote speaker at the BKR International Worldwide Meeting in San Francisco this past October. 

“When we consider leader-driven accounting firms that focus on solutions, this mindset is a distinct advantage for client service, talent recruitment and growth,” said Maureen Schwartz, executive director of BKR International, in a statement. “Dr. Selk’s presentation at BKR International’s recent meeting helped us realize the folly of harping on problems rather than finding solutions.”

Selk's "Relentless Solution Focus (RSF)" provides several tips for accounting firms and their teams to have mental toughness when managing staff, including:

1. There is always a solution.

Selk talked about the myth of discussing problems and expecting that continuous talk about those problems will lead to a solution. Instead, Selk advocates discussion on improving the things accountants and firms are doing well. 

2. Negative thinking expands.

Continuous negative thinking — in a person or organization — is a red flag that nothing will improve. The best way to stop thinking about negative things is to ask and answer this question: What is one thing I can do differently that could improve my situation?

3. A focus on solutions leads to solutions.

Selk advises that people are not allowed to say, “I don’t know.” Instead, they can say, “That’s an issue we need to address. Let’s talk about what could solve this.  In 60 seconds, everyone can think more positively about what is actually in their control to change.”

4. Any improvement is beneficial.

Some issues are not solvable in one meeting or in one week. However, any improvement is the start of a solution. 

5. Knowledge is not a solution. Action is required.

Accountants can get stuck too long in research about a firm problem — or procrastinate by focusing on client work. Firm leaders need to change the conversation to what actions their team can take in the next 24 hours, weeks and months to move toward a solution — or face getting left behind by their competition.


For more information on BKR International, head to his site here. For more information on Dr. Selk, head to his site here.