" Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."
— Six MythUnderstandings Between
Over the course of my life, I've come to believe in the wisdom of Dr. Karl Menninger, who pointed out that in his experience "fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out." The Millionaire Real Estate Agent models we reveal in this book embody basic principles that we believe are fundamental to real estate sales success at a high level. They represent the core activities that must be successfully and consistently done before massive sales achievement can be attained. But before we tackle these concepts, I believe you need to examine some of your core beliefs about success. How real or unreal they truly are, and how they may impact your chances for success. At best, your beliefs can lead to great confidence, and, at worst, they can lead to extreme doubt. If I've learned anything, it's that if allowed to exist, doubts can truly undermine your confidence, your actions, and ultimately your dreams.
Mark Twain's familiar story about cats and hot stoves is a great example of the power of beliefs and fears. Twain famously remarked, "We should be careful to get out of an experience all the wisdom that is in it—
not like the cat that sits on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot lid again—and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore." I've noticed that, like Twain's cat, we tend to base our actions on what we believe to be true. Unfortunately, what we believe to be the truth may actually be myth. When beliefs are based on truth, and not myth, our actions have foundation and are more likely to produce satisfying results. However, beliefs grounded in myths tend to lead to unfounded fears and a life of limitations.
The history books we all read growing up are filled with examples of myths leading to fears that hold us back. Galileo was imprisoned for daring to prove that the sun (not the Earth) was the center of our solar system. And how long did the belief that the Earth was flat hold back the discovery of the New World? Galileo and Columbus are just two obvious examples of how myths may hold us back and truths can set us free.
This chapter is really about fear. And the source of most of our fears is myth. I find it extremely helpful to think of fears in terms of what generally creates them—myths—and what sets us free from them—truths. It's about learning to look past your fears to the truth of a situation, investigating the myths, and avoiding the misunderstandings that hold us back. In our work with real estate agents, we've identified six common myths that tend to get in the way of success. So in order truly to set a stage for achieving the highest possible potential in your career, we believe you should pause, take a closer look at, and even confront what may be your own MythUnderstandings.
The Six MythUnderstandings Between You and High Achievement
Until you try, you can't possibly know what you can or can't do.
It can't be done in my market.
Yes it can, but you may need a new approach.
It would take too much time and effort— I would lose my freedom.
Time and effort are not the deciding factors in success. It's too risky. I'll lose money.
Risk is in direct proportion to how well you hold your incremental costs accountable to producing incremental results.
My clients will only work with me—only I can deliver quality service.
Your clients aren't loyal to you; they are loyal to the standards you represent.
Having a goal and not fully realizing it is a negative thing. Having a goal and not trying to achieve it is a negative thing.
The First Common
Truth: Until You Try, You Can't Possibly Know What You Can or Can't Do.
What exactly is your ultimate potential? What are your limitations? Do you realize that whenever you say, "I can't do it," you are assigning limits to your potential? Upon reflection, do you think it is wise or even fair to do that to yourself? Let me share with you an interesting dialogue I once had with one of my students:
1 Myth: Truth:
2 Myth: Truth:
4 Myth: Truth:
5 Myth: Truth:
6 Myth: Truth:
Okay, Gary. Do you really think it's realistic to talk to all of us about achieving those levels of success? It doesn't seem very realistic to me.
That's a fair question. Do you mind if I ask you a question before I answer? Sure.
What's your ultimate potential? I'm sorry? I don't follow you.
What are your limitations? What are you capable of achieving? What is your ceiling? In other words, do you know what your ultimate potential is? Hmm. I never really thought about it. I guess I have no idea. That's an honest answer, and I appreciate that. So here's the point: Nobody knows. And if you don't know what your ultimate potential is, then how can you possibly judge what is realistic? Honestly, what good does it do us to talk about what is realistic when, in the end, we don't even know what we're truly capable of achieving?
Unless you absolutely know your capabilities and limitations, why would you entertain this kind of inner dialogue! Short of a personal visitation from the Creator, you're unlikely ever to know the limits of your potential. So the question of whether you can or can't do something someday should probably never be considered.
Our dialogue actually continued, but with the whole class. Here is the rest:
me: Let's just pretend for a second that I actually did believe in the "need to be realistic about your potential." Are you telling me that you would willingly turn your kids over to me to be taught that doctrine?
ME: No, really. I'll take your thirteen- and sixteen-year-olds and sit them down and say, "Your mom and dad have hired me to teach you your limitations. You're not going to be all you hoped you could be. You have limits; you don't need to dream big because that is just unrealistic." Now, if that was what I was going to teach your children, are you going to turn me loose with your kids?
ME: Okay, then. Take your own advice. If you wouldn't talk to a child that way, why would you talk to yourself that way? You don't need that kind of nonproductive self-talk going on in your head. So are you going to think big or think small? Are you going to think limits or no limits?
Interesting, isn't it? Clearly, as loving parents, the last thing we want our children to fixate on is their perceived limitations. We want to encourage them. We want to nurture their self-confidence and reward effort over results. The last thing we want to engrain in our children is fear and the belief that they should limit the size of their dreams. So let's just take our own advice. Let's not have this dialogue with our children and let's avoid that sort of self-defeating inner dialogue with ourselves. In my opinion, this kind of negative self-talk is as pointless as it is unproductive. And here is an even greater truth that high achievers have long since discovered: Once you try and achieve one thing you thought might not be possible, it becomes easier and easier for you to "see the impossible" and then achieve it.
"I had no people skills, no sales skills, and no business experience, but I was determined to make it."
Valerie Fitzgerald Millionaire Real Estate Agent Los Angeles, CA Sales volume—$60 million
Remember the four-minute mile? The four-minute mile was long considered impossible. Sportscasters and experts all deemed it outside the realm of human ability. One of the greatest milers of the era, Australian John Landy, made numerous high-profile attempts to break the four-minute mark but fell short each time. His efforts served to reinforce the widely held myth of the times, and for nine years all efforts to break the barrier proved unsuccessful. Then a British medical student named Roger Bannister decided he might be able to break the record and began training. He took his goal and broke it into manageable pieces—a quarter of a mile in less than a minute. Each day, during his thirty-minute lunch break at Oxford, Bannister worked on running ten consecutive fifty-nine-second quarter miles with two minutes of rest in between. By continually achieving one-fourth of his goal, Bannister began to believe. On May 6, 1954, a triumphant Roger Bannister ran the "miracle mile" in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds.
Bannister's "miracle mile" is widely used to illustrate the power of positive attitude, of believing in possibilities. What is often missed is the subplot about the equal but opposite power of myth. John Landy, who had famously tried to achieve the four-minute mile for years, would go on to break Bannister's new record in less than two months. Two months. This doesn't appear to be a matter of simple coincidence. What had held Landy back was a myth, the myth that no one could break the four-minute mile. Bannister broke the record and, in doing so, tore down the psychological wall that was keeping Landy from success.
"I really didn't have management ability. I was a worker and a people pleaser. I had difficulty with delegation, but I learned I could do it. I just had to let things go—just show people what to do and why."
Barbara Wilson Millionaire Real Estate Agent Medina, OH Sales volume—$57.3 million
No matter what your circumstances may be at the time, when you set out to achieve something, always begin with the belief that you just might do it. Real estate agents who succeed at high levels understand how debilitating thinking "I can't do it" can be. They understand that the very first step to discovering their potential is trying. You can't know what you're really capable of doing until you try and never give up. In fact, many people have said that they believe that failure is not the worst thing in the world. They believe the very worst is not to try at all. It's been observed that many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
It's funny, but a person once pointed out to me that "ultimate potential" is a goal-less pursuit. I had to think about it for a bit before realizing it's true. We can never reach our ultimate potential. There is no goal, no finish line. So your focus must be on continual pursuit. Maximizing your potential is simply about trying and trying and never giving up.
The Second Common
Myth: It Can't Be Done In My Market.
Truth: Yes It Can, but You May Need a New Approach.
The second MythUnderstanding we've encountered is closely related to the first. It seems that even when people are able to see that something is possible, they tend to fall prey to another unknowable assumption. They say, "It may be possible elsewhere, but it will never work in my market." And then comes the justification: "To do that in my market, I'd have to have an X percent market share, and that has never been done before." "To do that in my market, I'd have to have X number of buyers, and no one has ever done that before." "To do that in my market, I'd have to list X or more properties a month, and it's never been done here." . . . and so forth. Here's the truth: If it has been done in another market, it can be done in your market. What I want you to realize is that once it has been done, no matter where, it's just a matter of finding out how that can be possible in your world.
approaches that have proven successful elsewhere. Similar to the point we just made with the first MythUnderstanding, until you try an approach that worked in another market, you will never know whether it can or can't be done in yours. While your marketplace will certainly determine what some of the variables are, your plan of attack and your implementation of it will always be the key determining factors.
I know a lot of tremendously talented real estate agents who will achieve far less than they are capable of because they are stuck on a two- or three-listings-per-month business plan. It distresses me. They are perfectly capable of great success but become victims of the wrong plan. If you go to the back of this book, you'll find lots of real-life examples of Millionaire Real Estate Agents. They have done it in widely varying marketplaces. But they are doing it. If you're willing to adopt a milliondollar plan, you may find you are able to do it as well.
And here is a great truth I have personally experienced: The first one to overcome this MythUnderstanding enjoys a distinct advantage in his marketplace. If you believe and your competition does not, there is one less obstacle between you and your goals! And it's a big one!
"You must seek ideas, training, and consulting outside your own area."
Tim Wood Millionaire Real Estate Agent Big Bear Lake, CA Sales volume—$38 million
What you're really saying when you say "It can't be done in my market" is "I haven't found the right way to make it work in my market." Frankly, you'll need to start by trying
The Third Common
Myth: It Would Take Too Much Time and Effort—I Would Lose My Freedom.
Truth: Time and Effort Are Not the Deciding Factors in Success.
This is probably one of the greatest MythUnderstandings of all. And it seems to be the one most people fall prey to. They truly believe that the more successful you become, the more time and effort you will have to invest and the more freedom you'll lose. They say things like, "I'm not willing to make the sacrifices you'd have to make to have that level of success." People have lived before us and I believe the highly successful ones have proven this to be a complete and total myth. They understand that you can put in fifty-hour workweeks and make $50,000 a year or you can put in fifty-hour workweeks and make a million dollars a year. Still others understand that they can put in a fifty-hour workweek and experience no limits to their income earning potential.
Try looking at it this way. Any given approach to working will correspondingly create a limit to the amount of sales production that can be accomplished by a single individual in a given workweek. Some people then believe that this means they have hit the limits of their success! Then they try to get around this problem by simply working more hours, and that is what costs them their freedom. The key to success at this point is not to apply more time or effort to the equation but to think of time and effort differently. Try to see time and effort first as an efficiency and effectiveness issue. Do the best you can with the time you devote to your business, and when that takes you as far as it can, you then have a leverage issue. When time and effort take you as far as they can, then you add leverage to progress to the next level.
When you look at this closely, you will uncover a series of related myths about time and effort. Here are just a few:
MYTH: Activity means productivity.
TRUTH: You can be active without being productive.
myth: Efficiency equals effectiveness.
TRUTH: You can do something very efficiently and still be ineffective.
MYTH: More discipline means less freedom.
TRUTH: Discipline translates to effectiveness, which leads to accomplishment, and that creates more freedom—not less.
myth: "Justice for all." Equal time should mean equal reward.
TRUTH: Reward always comes down to who does the best job.
myth: We perform best under pressure.
truth: You perform best when you focus, and pressure is a poor means to continually gain focus.
MYTH: I have time.
TRUTH: You have no idea how much time you have, so make every minute count!
Almost every one of the Millionaire Real Estate Agents we interviewed for this book understood how to be purposeful, focused, and extremely effective with their time. Then by maintaining their focus on what was important and applying leverage, they earned back their time. We spoke to agents who could work as little as three days a week and still have a highly successful business; others could expect multiple homes to close while they were away on vacation. These agents are living proof that the more successful you become, the more (not less) freedom you enjoy.
The Fourth Common
Myth: It's Too Risky. I'll Lose Money.
Truth: Risk Is in Direct Proportion to How Well You Hold Your Incremental Costs Accountable to Producing Incremental Results.
Anyone who has ever spent any time in a boardroom knows that when it comes to expenses, there are basically two kinds of people. There are those who cry, "It costs too much!" and there are those who counter, "We can't afford not to do it." Most people react one way or the other out of habit or nature. Most of the time, you can examine the numbers and make a sound, dispassionate decision. However, there are times when this won't work because you simply can't reliably assess the risks. Millionaire Real Estate Agents know how to operate when the end result is unclear. They understand that if you hold your costs accountable for corresponding incremental results—if you stay engaged after you write the check and evaluate the direct results of writing that check before writing more— you can greatly minimize your risks.
It's just like the childhood game Red Light, Green Light. However, instead of playing the traffic light for fun and games, you must be a traffic light for your expenses. Here is how it works: Once you have a green light, you increase your expenses by an appropriate amount to accomplish a corresponding goal. Now that you've increased your expenses, you must hold that incremental increase accountable to deliver an incremental increase in income! You're now sitting at a red light. And you'll continue to sit there with no increase in your spending until you see the appropriate incremental increase in your income. Once an acceptable incremental increase shows up for that level of spending, the light turns from red to green, and you are now free to add another incremental increase in spending.
This isn't so complicated, yet too many people act as if it is a green light world and run red light after red light without so much as tapping the "expense brakes." This process is about scrutinizing your results hard and understanding exactly where they come from. Don't pay for a second of anything until you're sure the first one is producing great results! Red Light, Green Light is how you can greatly reduce the risks of increased spending.
Early in my career, I remember fretting over what seemed to be an extraordinary monetary risk involving a new hire. This was at a juncture when one of my businesses needed a new manager. I had interviewed a superb candidate but knew she would command twice the salary I'd ever paid anyone in that position. My initial mistake was in assessing my exposure in terms of her annual salary, which for the purposes of this discussion we'll say was $60,000. In that business, $60,000 would have been a lot of money to guarantee someone for that position. I was very nervous and afraid of the apparent increased risk this guarantee represented. Then it dawned on me that my actual risk was really only the difference between what I had previously paid for the position and the new person's salary. So, in essence, I was risking only about $30,000 a year on this new person. This was a better and truer perspective, but $30,000 still felt like a substantial risk to me. Then it occurred to me that if this person was not performing, I wouldn't be paying the salary for an entire year. The truth was, I would be at risk only for about $2,500 for every month the individual was with the company.
I realized that if I paid close attention to her performance, I'd quickly be able to determine if she was right for the job. I knew I would have to hold her accountable to bring in significant results to justify that kind of guarantee. I finally determined that if after three months performance had fallen or remained the same, I would need to be prepared to part ways and move to another candidate. So my actual risk would only be $7,500 ($2,500 times three months). Once I thought of it that way, I decided
I could afford that "When I hired an assistant, my business risk. What happened took off. My advice is don't try to do it all was by the end of yourself. Go get people." three months profits Jill Rudler
Millionaire Real Estate Agent had increased more
than enough to cover Sales volume—$58 million the additional $2,500
a month in increased costs. By the end of the year, even after the additional $30,000 I'd invested in wages, our net profits were still markedly higher than the previous year.
Any dollar you spend that increases your net profits is ultimately a dollar well invested. For one person that dollar represents cost. For another it represents an investment. Millionaire Real Estate Agents understand the difference between costs and investments. They play Red Light, Green Light and add costs incrementally, hold them accountable to incremental gains, and then and only then, move forward. Overcoming the "It's too risky" MythUnderstanding is about evaluation, engagement, and patience.
The Fifth Common
Myth: My Clients Will Only Work with Me— Only I Can Deliver Quality Service.
Truth: Your Clients Aren't Loyal to You; They Are Loyal to the Standards You Represent.
To tell you the truth, this is probably the number one reason great real estate agents don't succeed to their highest potential. To become a Millionaire Real Estate Agent you will have to hire additional help. Some Millionaire Real Estate Agents have small staffs. Others have six or more people helping them with the work involved with producing spectacular sales volume. Eventually, to reach your highest sales potential, you will have to learn to delegate responsibilities and authority to others.
Please hear me and hear me well. If you get nothing else out of this book, please consider this important point: Whatever services you provide, as specialized as they may be, can be duplicated through the right people implementing systems to achieve standards you approve.
What's all this talk about standards, you ask? Your unique services are a by-product of your standards. Whether you realize it or not, you have set beliefs on how quickly you should respond to a buyer inquiry, how a listing interview should be conducted, or how a difficult contract negotiation should be handled. Most successful real estate agents hold themselves to unwritten personal standards in these areas without always being able to articulate them quickly. Yet they all seem to be able instantly to recognize the moment their standards have been breached.
The right approach to delegating tasks is to determine, clearly, what experience your clients (and you) expect your services to deliver and then articulate that to your staff so they, too, can deliver that experience. Any task can be defined. And if it can be defined and have standards attached to it, it can also be delegated. Systems are simply road maps, instructions that allow these standards to be repeated and duplicated easily.
If systems and standards could not ensure the duplication of a particular level of service, then all companies would be made up of one person. When you think about quality standards in the service industry, what companies do you think of? Nordstrom, the Ritz Carlton, Tavern on the Green,
"We sell the team concept. We say meet the CC Sells specialists."
Chris Cormack Millionaire Real Estate Agent Ashburn, VA Sales volume—$70 million and all the other companies that place a premium on the quality of their customers' experience. These companies stake their reputation on their standards, and they teach their employees how to duplicate them.
To work at Disney, employees have to attend Disney University, an intense crash course in their service systems. Employees are taught all the essential facts, memorize park layouts, and are instructed on how to keep their energy high and attitude right. The Disney philosophy is: "The front line is the bottom line." They understand that the average visitor saves for two and a half years before making the journey, which makes for some lofty expectations. The average homeowner waits as much as four times as long to make a home purchase. What are their expectations? How can you ensure that your staff can meet those expectations the way you do? Standards and systems. The interesting truth is when you systematize services to a defined standard so others can deliver them, your clients actually get better service. And isn't that what you're after?
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