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Build Momentum Through Small Wins

August 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Big wins are the result of small wins.

Image of The Progress Principle. While you may be urged at every turn to “dream big” and “set grand goals,” there’s an increasing amount of research that what motivates us on a day-to-day are the small wins of incremental progress.

Dan Pink’s interview with Harvard business school professor, Teresa Amabile, reveals a number of interesting insights which agents and brokers can apply to their daily business to improve satisfaction and foster a progress-oriented environment.

Some interesting highlights from the interview:

“Our research showed that, of all the events that have the power to excite people and engage them in their work, the single most important is making progress — even if that progress is a small win.”

“Our survey showed that most leaders don’t understand the power of progress. When we asked nearly 700 managers from companies around the world to rank five employee motivators (incentives, recognition, clear goals, interpersonal support, and support for making progress in the work), progress came in at the very bottom.”

“Setbacks have a negative effect on inner work life that’s 2-3 times stronger than the positive effect of progress.”

To read the whole interview, check out Dan Pink’s blog post here…

Why Progress Matters:

In addition to this fascinating interview, the website Tiny Buddha also offers this helpful article on how not to be overwhelmed by your to-do list and score some small wins every day:

How to Decide What to Do Now:

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Scott’s Thoughts: Good Habits Come from Bad Times

August 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

We learn to sharpen our skills when the market is down.

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”
–Ancient Proverb

A boat on rough seas. In a booming seller’s market, it takes almost no effort at all to make your way in real estate. Indeed, in the last (and some would say: reckless) “gold rush” market, it seemed that anyone with a real estate license tacked to the wall could make a good living without the slightest bit of sales and marketing skill.

Of course, when the market tanked, who were the first to see their ships sink?

A common saying in sales is “bad habits come from good times.” When the money is easy, little effort is made to invest in education, training, prospecting, or technology upgrades. People cultivate poor client relationship management habits and frequently fall out of touch.

In a tough market, the converse is true: We develop our best habits when times are hard.

What you learn and practice during these times will serve you well when the market turns. Now is the time to double down on your client relationship skills, improving personal productivity, and learning new technology. This way, when the gold rush mentality returns, you’ll have the good habits and hard-won knowledge to outperform the masses.

Take today’s rough seas as the best lesson you could possibly have in sailing through to prosperous times. On days when it seems that nothing works and times are lean, remember that today’s adversity is teaching you what a boom market can never teach. Invest in yourself and form good habits now.

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Scott’s Thoughts: On Acceptance

August 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Cultivate the power to accept what you cannot change.

“Of course there is not formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.”
–Arthur Rubinstein, pianist (1887 — 1982)

Road beneath blue skies. There are limits to how much you can control in your life. We run into some of our greatest stress, however, when we fail to recognize what we can control and what is simply beyond our grasp.

It’s a grim future for the person who believes through sheer force of will they can change all situations. At times, acceptance is our only course of action. Acceptance is, in fact, a skill worth developing. It is not defeat or weakness to understand when a situation is out of our control. It is wisdom.

When you have the ability to accurately perceive what you can and cannot influence, you have options. You may conserve your energy, change your focus, and work to extinguish feelings of fear, helplessness, or despair.

The practice of acceptance is useful not only when it comes to the external world, but it can also be a valuable tool for finding contentment in your own life. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits touches on this concept in his article “You’re Already Perfect.” If you’ve been dealing with negative talk and an unhealthy sense of dissatisfaction, spend a few minutes to read his article here:

Finally, don’t confuse these thoughts on acceptance with the notion that one should give up hope or resign themselves to a bleak outlook. The art of knowing what we can and cannot change is a powerful tool for helping us dedicate our energies to those things we can impact. With that knowledge comes empowerment and a sense that things can (and will) get better.

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Escape From “Shouldistan”

July 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Don’t should on yourself.”
–Albert Ellis, psychologist

Have you heard of the most dangerous state in the world? It’s called “Shouldistan” (pronounced: SHOULD-IH-STAN). It’s a legendary war zone, and more than a few ambitious professionals have seen their goals and dreams die there.

Bordered by “Could-istan” and “Would-istan,” you may recognize those who have spent too much time within its borders– they’re bitter, exhausted, and reek of standing around the coffee maker and complaining. All day they say things like:

  • “They SHOULD have listened to me when I told them their house was overpriced.”
  • “The banks SHOULD realize that my short sale package is perfect.”
  • “I SHOULD get my listing presentation in shape.”
  • “I SHOULD have done something this week to stay in better touch with my clients.”

If you find yourself on the mean mental streets of Shouldistan, you must escape at all costs.

Here’s a practical field guide to getting out alive:

First and foremost, accept that if there are conditions you cannot change, you must learn to change yourself in order to rise to the challenge. You can’t help that your market is flooded with inventory, but you can make it your business to know your local inventory inside and out. Get wise to what’s in your hands and what’s not.

Second, recognize that a step in the direction of your goals today, no matter how small, is still a step in the right direction. If thinking about “how it should be” kills your motivation and causes you to procrastinate, it’s imperative you take action. Action will give you a greater sense of control. Even if you choose small actions to start, they will add up over the days and weeks. Before you know it, you might just find out that it doesn’t matter “how it should be” because you’re on a new, more productive path.

Finally, don’t dwell on setbacks. There’s a German proverb that says, “He who spends time counting every thorn on every bush never gets out of the woods.” When you face resistance or “failure,” take a good look at what you can learn from it and move on. Remember: There is no failure… only feedback.

Everyone gets dragged into a tour of Shouldistan now and again… just don’t become a casualty!

[You know you SHOULD keep in touch with clients. Learn how My Real Helper can ensure you do!]

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Understanding Self-Efficacy

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Build your momentum with self-efficacy.

Bruna Martinuzzi, President of Clarion Enterprises, Ltd., recently wrote this excellent article on the concept of “self-efficacy” for American Express OPEN Forum. Though it is not specifically targeted to real estate, it really could not be more applicable to the challenges real estate professionals face in reaching their goals.

Individuals with high self-efficacy, as defined by Albert Bandura, Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology at Stanford University, “are more likely to put a greater effort in achieving specific outcomes. They also attribute any failure to things that are within their control, rather than blaming others or the conditions surrounding them. Most importantly, they are able to recover quicker from setbacks and are, therefore, more likely to succeed in realizing their goals.”

From the article:

According to Bandura’s findings, there are four influences that can help us develop our self-efficacy:

* Mastery experiences: successful experiences through repeated effort; in other words, not easy successes, but successes that involve overcoming obstacles through persistence.

* Vicarious experiences: watching other people, similar to us, succeed through perseverance leads us to increasing our belief, that we, too, could improve our performance in comparable activities.

* Verbal persuasion: others convincing us that we have what it takes to successfully master given activities.

* Physiological and emotional states: lowering stress and tension and managing our emotional states as they can influence how we view ourselves; being anxious, for example, can lower our self-efficacy.

Be sure to read the article to discover six tips to help you boost your self-efficacy:

[Learn about a system that helps you master self-efficacy with client follow-up!]

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ROI vs. The Rule of Reciprocity

April 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

What do we risk losing by obsessively tracking return on investment?

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”
–Jimmy Johnson

Be golden, get golden. We live in an age where increasing importance is placed on tracking the return on investment (ROI) in almost everything we do. It’s a side effect of living in a digital world. Google, for example, has built an empire by tracking and monetizing every question you ask them and link you click. Software tracks web traffic and the number of leads we receive online. Marketers use special call capture systems and variable 1-800 numbers to know which ads make the phone ring. The phrase “data driven decision making” is more common than ever.

While “metrics” can often help us save time and money, we have to guard against becoming too obsessed with tracking direct return on investment. If we do not, we risk losing our humanity, the very thing which builds strong communities in which there is an implicit belief that doing good in the world ultimately results in getting good in return.

Call it karma, the Golden Rule, or the Truth of Reciprocity, but to be extraordinary, you must make the leap of faith that while you cannot measure the hundred of small, thoughtful efforts that take up a little of your time and energy, they will come back to you– either directly, or indirectly, in the form of making the world a little more civilized, and someone’s day a little brighter.

We’ve written in the past on the concept of greatness through “winning by inches,” and it remains true today. Real estate is fundamentally a client service and relationship marketing business, and if you wish to succeed, you must be comfortable “letting go, and letting good” happen in your day-to-day life.

Lead with a little faith in people. The best systems for staying in touch with clients come down to making a concerted effort to practice random acts of kindness. Referrals hinge on the “extra” that elevates you from ordinary to extraordinary, and you can’t spend all your time keeping track of who’s scratched your back today. Give it away, and you’ll get it in return, guaranteed.

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On Endurability in Real Estate

April 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“As far as I can tell, the decisive factor is what I call endurability: that is, the ability to deal effectively with uncertainty, rejection, and disappointment, from within as well as from without.”

–Ted Solotartoff, (American writer, editor & literary critic, 1928 – 2008)

Make it to the finish line. The other day someone asked me what single quality separated successful entrepreneurs from those who had called it quits. “Aside from a big trust fund,” I said, “it has to be attitude.”

But as I reflected on my answer later in the day, it occurred to me I should have been more specific. It’s not just a positive attitude that separates the successful from the frustrated– it’s the magic quality of endurability.

Endurability is peculiar. It’s not composed of simple-minded “sunshine all the time” positive attitude. It’s a curious blend of optimism, thick skin, stubborn dedication, and even, at time, willful self-deception. The hero of many a success story in business is a person who refused to listen to people tell them they were crazy. It’s not quite playing the violin on the deck of the Titanic, but it does have that ability to maintain professionalism in the face of pending doom.

Most of all, though, endurability is the ability to persevere in the face of personal doubt. For one to truly endure a challenge, it must be possible to hold in mind the possibility of failure while working with every available resource in order to succeed. You must maintain faith in your abilities even though you often work without reward.

Endurability is essential in real estate. How many new agents do you know who were told they were crazy for pursuing a real estate career in the midst of a meltdown? How many agents have you seen give up their real estate dreams too soon? How many times have you had to put on a brave face after a tough client meeting?

I have seen people succeed through sheer force of will. Endurability, given time, is almost always a core component of success. Everything can change for the positive at any moment. Endurability ensures you are there when your luck finds its way to you.

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5 Fatal Career Flaws to Avoid

March 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

These flaws put your potential prosperity at severe risk!

In Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman’s book, “The Extraordinary Leader: Turning good managers into great leaders,” researchers identified five “fatal flaws” which were effectively “success killers.”

In contrast to areas where professionals had “allowable weaknesses” (i.e. deficiencies in skills which could be avoided or overshadowed by other strengths), these five weaknesses were considered absolutely toxic to a successful career.

The flaws included:

1. Lack of initiative
2. Lack of accountability
3. Lack of openness to new or different ideas
4. Lack of core interpersonal skills or competencies
5. Inability to learn from mistakes

Are you guilty of any of these? It’s interesting to note that these five flaws are generally organized around inactivity as a result of FEAR. For example:

1. Lack of initiative = fear of making a wrong decision (fear of mistakes)
2. Lack of accountability = fear we’ll have to face our own laziness or inactivity
3. Lack of openness to new ideas = fear we won’t be able to adapt, or we’re being “left behind”
4. Lack of core interpersonal skills = fear of social interaction, fear of low self-esteem
5. Inability to learn from mistakes = fear of change

To overcome these fears, we have to transform them into hope. Understanding that growth comes from adversity, it helps to frame our fears as undernourished hope for change and prosperity. “Maybe I’ll get it wrong,” needs to become “What happens if I get it right?”

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Learning from “No”

March 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

How to go about learning from missed shots.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
–Bill Gates

It’s hard for us to hear what we don’t want to hear. Sometimes our selective hearing is a defense mechanism that keeps us positive and keeps us moving forward. Busted listing presentation? Failed open house? Deal falls apart? Keep your head up and don’t look back, right? Sure.

And that works well… until it doesn’t. As uncomfortable as it can be to drop our defense mechanisms and really probe our failures, it is by far one of the most effective methods of self-improvement. It’s too easy to shake your head and say, “Well, they don’t know what they’re missing out on,” when someone chooses not to list with you. If you want to turn that “no” into a valuable learning experience (and after all, what do you have to lose?), consider this:

The next time something goes wrong with a prospect or a client, follow-up and find out why. A short email or letter is a great way to find out what “went wrong.” What you want to make sure you do in the letter is the following:

1. Acknowledge that you respect their decision not to choose you.
2. Thank them for the opportunity to serve them.
3. “In the spirit of self-improvement and honest feedback” ask them the main reason they opted not to use your services.
4. Impress on them the need not to “sugar coat it” and that you value their frankness
5. Regardless of how you feel about their feedback, thank them for taking the time to tell you
6. Most importantly: RESIST ALL URGES TO ARGUE

Not only does this present you as a true professional, but you’ll get straight-between-the-eyes feedback you would have missed out on otherwise.

When you take this path, those “failures” aren’t failures at all. They were steps along the way to greater success.

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Resentment is a Silent Killer

June 28, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

Scott’s Thoughts: Managing Resentment
Work to manage this silent killer.

“Resentment is one burden that is incompatible with your success. Always be the first to forgive; and forgive yourself first always.”
–Dan Zadra

Resentment is a deal killer. Whether between managing brokers and agents, agents and other agents, or between spouses, resentment is one of the most corrosive elements in a relationship. Sometimes called the “silent killer,” resentment is largely the result of unaired grievances or poor communication. What may be in actuality a very small (and often misperceived offense) can be the seed from which a series of bad decisions arise– passive aggressive behavior, professional sabotage, and higher stress levels across the board.

Resentment can also become toxic between buyers and sellers. You’ve probably been in negotiations where one side begins to really dislike the other. This attitude is ultimately counterproductive to closing the sale. Rather than focusing on the terms and compromises at hand, the two parties become entrenched in personal warfare. Successful negotiation means keeping resentment out of the picture.

One thing you can do to mitigate resentment is to make sure you never make a comment, however small, that disparages the buyer to the seller or vice-versa. Even if you think the comment may be sympathetic to and supportive of the listener’s frustration, what you’re actually doing is encouraging resentment. What’s worse, if the resentment ever boils over to full-scale confrontation, you might find yourself in the uncomfortable position of defending or explaining comments you may have made carelessly during the course of the deal.

Keep an eye out for growing resentment on either side of the fence. Anything you can do to diffuse or manage resentment before it manifests itself will go a long way to securing your future success.

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