Ask Dr. Real Estate
Is It A Complex Or Am I Really Inferior?
by Dr. Kenneth W. Edwards GRI
I've been a REALTOR® for a little over a year and after a rocky start am earning a decent income. There's something that really bugs me, however. Another woman in our office who began at the same time I did - I'll call her Molly -is setting all sorts of sales records and is probably earning twice as much as I am. She works fewer hours and frankly I can't see that she's got any more on the ball than I have. To add insult to injury, she dresses like a hippie and drives a car that barely runs. I know it's petty and I'm trying to be mature, but I'm developing a complex. Do you have any suggestions to help me improve my attitude?
It's natural to compare your accomplishments with others who came aboard about the same time you did. That's particularly true if you went through a company training program together and got to know one another well. But I'm going to tell you something you already know: it shouldn't make the slightest difference to you how well Molly does. The only person over whom you have more or less complete control is you. Here are a few observations that I hope will help you adjust your attitude.
Look Below The Surface: Why is Molly getting all that action? To oversimplify a complex phenomenon, people do business with those whom they know, like, and trust. My guess is that Molly has a lot of contacts and that folks have confidence in her. So what if they might get an errant spring in their backside when they sit in her car? You would be surprised what people will overlook if that basic rapport is there. Because of that fact of life, some rookie REALTORS® experience an immediate rush of business which others may find difficult to understand.
Here's an example: I had a student in one of my licensing classes who is a stalwart in the community because of civic activities and the business in which he was previously engaged. He also had sons who were prominent in local athletics and he himself was a scout for a major league baseball team. After he got his license one of his first listings was a big ticket motel restaurant complex. If the owner were to have chosen a listing agent based upon experience in commercial transactions, there are many other local REALTORS® who would have been more logical choices. I'm guessing that the selection was made based upon an assessment of character, which resulted in trust. Moral To The Story: So how does one become known, liked, and trusted? Getting known is a matter of getting around. The common guidance here is to become involved in community activities. That's excellent advice, but I would add that it's vital that you commit to only those activities in which you are sincerely interested, and those to which you are able to devote the appropriate amount of time. By the way, don't forget to share with those many folks who know you that you are a real estate professional, and that you would welcome their business and referrals. I've said it before: don't be a secret agent.
Being liked and trusted after you become known is much more of a challenge. Without getting too far up on my soapbox let me put in a plug for honesty and integrity. The essence of the agency relationship in which you enter into in most real estate transactions dictates that you put your client's interests above everyone else's in the transaction - most assuredly including yours. I'm reminded of the advice I heard a speaker give once on the importance of being sincere: "if you are not basically a sincere person you'll just have to fake it." I would amend that to "if you are not basically a sincere person, become one." We'll give you credit for being honest and trustworthy, but just remember that even if that were not the case it's an incredibly good business strategy.
Learn A Lesson From The Coach: John Wooden, former basketball coach at UCLA, won more NCAA titles than anyone in the history of the game. Watching him operate on the sidelines was a far cry from the antics you'll likely see by many of his modern day counterparts. He was intense, but dignified. No ranting, raving or screaming at his players or the officials.
On those very rare occasions when the Bruins lost, his focus was not on the other team but his own. His basic philosophy went something like this: "If we do the absolute best job we can of preparing ourselves for the game and lose, then I am satisfied." Now I will admit that he did a pretty fair job of recruiting some extremely talented young athletes to insure that he didn't have to test that philosophy often, but the basic point is sound.
Your focus should be on how you can improve your performance to live up to your potential. How are you doing in achieving your specific, written goals? If there's room for improvement, decide upon some clearly defined courses of action and persevere. Don't worry about Molly.