Let’s face it: real estate professionals have a demanding job. Real estate agents are forced to work long hours -- often under intense pressure and time constraints, give up their weekends for showings and open houses, serve as the middle person between buyers and sellers, and be at a potential buyer or seller’s beck and call. Factor in the uncertainty of the real estate market and one thing becomes abundantly clear: being a real estate agent is not easy!
You have likely heard the saying “real estate is all about location, location, location,” but a real estate agent’s job is much more complicated. A real estate professional’s success hinges on many different factors – timing, the market, finding the “right” property at the right price at the right time, and the list goes on.
The good news, even amidst all of the uncertainty, is this: you can learn how to effectively navigate your way to success.
As a psychologist who has spent a lifetime studying what makes people successful, I can tell you that successful people share common traits, coping strategies, and actions. Success is a deliberate choice that requires deliberate plans and deliberate actions.
The first step in understanding your pathway to success is to ask yourself a simple question… who are you? The answer to this question is not to give your name or even your “elevator speech,” but instead, to take an introspective look at how you view life, face challenges, and make choices.
There are three different “types” of people – Survivors, Victims, and Navigators. By examining the characteristics of each type, perhaps you will gain a greater understanding of which type – and in some instances – types you are.
The very mention of the word “Survivor” probably conjures up images of televised castaways sent to a remote place – and forced to fend for themselves against a cruel environment (and often cruel and calculating cast mates) and face challenge after challenge after challenge. Sound familiar?
Survivors, at their core, are fighters. They endure adversity and stay alive even against all odds. Survivors may subscribe to a tough, aggressive code, their behavior fueled by such internal mottos as “get the other guy before he gets you,” or “my way or the highway” or even “I will succeed, even if it kills me.”
Even though a Survivor may amass considerable professional and financial success, it typically comes with a cost. Most true survivors revel in the initial “high” after winning or conquering, but rarely feel happy or content. Instead, many survivors are wrought with – and fueled by – feeling of betrayal, anger, and distrust. The path of the Survivor usually leads to turmoil -- and not to satisfaction.
Are you a Survivor? Consider these questions: Do you often feel that you need to prove yourself to people? Are you very competitive and sometimes even aggressive with others? Do you often feel unsatisfied even after you accomplish something important or experience a significant success? Do you have trouble trusting people because you often think they are either using you or trying to take advantage of you? Do you experience a lot of conflict in your relationship with others?
If you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, you are in some part a Survivor – and that’s okay. However, having a healthy dose of Survivor is one thing; living life as a full-fledged, 24/7 Survivor is quite another. The full-time Survivor perceives danger all around – whether or not a situation is truly dangerous. Living in fear of losing and seeing enemies where there are none often creates painful self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, even though a Survivor may truly want to succeed, he or she may alienate colleagues and clients with his or her aggressive and distrustful behavior.
The good news for Survivors is that this path is not set in stone. If you are a Survivor and are becoming weary of facing the world alone, you can choose a different path.
Compass Point for real estate agents: For real estate agents in particular, being a Survivor can make a tough job even tougher. There are so many situations in which real estate agents are called upon to exercise diplomacy, use tact, and to learn how – and when – to compromise. These are skills many Survivors lack. As a real estate agent, you have likely been in a number of situations where the buyer and seller didn’t see eye-to-eye. Survivors typically want what they want, when they want it, which can make reaching “middle ground” difficult – if not impossible. Negotiating effectively on behalf of a client requires give and take; if you subscribe to the way of the Survivor and are unwilling to give, you may find yourself having difficulty closing sales. Also, since Survivors are often motivated by an abject lack of trust, they often project distrust on clients and colleagues – which usually makes clients and colleagues distrustful. And any real estate agent knows, you need your clients to trust you.
There is one primary difference between Survivors and Victims: Victims have already concluded that they can’t win. The Victim’s world is a world of unfairness, helplessness, and low self-esteem. Because they experience themselves as essentially powerless, Victims tend to face obstacles with passivity and an overall attitude of “why bother?” Victims are deceived and cheated by their own emotions and ignorance.
Most victims crave the safety of predictability, habit, and ritual. They may be afraid of change, of trying a new way, of changing jobs, or seeking new, more rewarding relationships. For the Victim, fear is a powerful motivator.
Are you a Victim? Consider these questions: Do you often have trouble asserting yourself? Do you frequently doubt yourself or your abilities? Do you typically feel anxious when you are put into a new situation or environment? Do you often do things you’d rather not do just to make others like or approve of you? Do you keep your feelings, especially anger, to yourself instead of confronting people directly?
Just like Survivors, the path of the Victim is not set in stone. The challenge for Victims is to learn how to separate fact from fiction when it comes to emotions versus reality.
Compass Point for real estate agents: Real estate agents who operate as Victims often experience feelings of hopelessness, despair, and anxiety about making new sales and developing new client relationships. In addition, the negotiating process is especially difficult for Victims. As a real estate agent, it is your job is to get the best possible outcome for your client. How can you stand up for your client if you can’t stand up for yourself? Equally, too many Victims are motivated by a need to please. It can be extraordinarily difficult for a Victim to develop strong client relationships – simply because the fear of “letting someone down” or “not measuring up” is just too great. Moreover, Victims often have difficulty setting boundaries, and may find that they feel taken advantage of by clients and colleagues. What is ironic is that Victims are taken advantage of only because they allow themselves to be taken advantage of. Real estate agents are often forced to embrace new situations and new people, to set boundaries, and to assert themselves on behalf of their clients. Without those skills, Victims are often left feeling profoundly unrewarded and ineffective.
Like Survivors and Victims, Navigators face their fair share of problems. The difference is that Navigators face these challenges with vision, focus, a problem-solving approach, and a sense of humor. Rather than lamenting their mistakes or beating themselves up, Navigators learn from those mistakes. Navigators seek win-win outcomes. A Navigator manages his or her own way through life.
Navigators are clear about where they are going, are quick to get themselves back on track when obstacles arise, do not complain, and shrug off self-doubt and other forms of non-productive thinking. Navigators are masters of “The Mind Battle” – the fight against the endless, self-generated negative chatter that lives within each of us. Victims and Survivors tend to believe that voice of negativity and often obey it. Navigators, on the other hand, confront their inner critic.
Are you a Navigator? Consider these questions: Do you usually voice your opinions and feel comfortable asserting yourself? Do you feel that life is full of golden opportunities waiting to be discovered? Do you have concrete goals and plans for the future? Are you usually able to shrug off self-doubt and negative thing? Do you tend to bounce back from upsets and quickly remobilize yourself for action?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, congratulations! You are on the way to being in control of your own success. One thing that is important to note – you can learn to be a Navigator. It is as simple as learning to steer your life in a more purposeful, fruitful direction.
Compass Point for real estate agents: Real estate agents who are Navigators are equipped to handle challenges that come their way. Since Navigators are focused, confident, resilient, and accountable, they know how to effectively manage challenges, obstacles, and difficulties. They seek situations that are a win-win. They are positive, upbeat and fulfilled. Their reward? Respect, trust, and confidence from their clients…and referrals and repeat business!
It is my hope that you will see areas in your life where you can enact some positive changes, learn, grow, and find your own unique pathway to success. So, who are you? Or who do you want to be?
Moss A. Jackson, Ph.D. is a clinical and organizational psychologist who has been practicing in the field for over 30 years. A recognized thought leader in the areas of leadership development, team building, and high performance, Jackson helps individuals and organizations achieve success through passion, focus, and execution. He is the author of Navigating for Success.