RISMEDIA, April 15, 2011—Starting each day with enthusiasm comes easily to most agents when the housing market is booming. But when times are tough, even the most experienced CRSs can struggle to maintain their drive. “It’s hard to get motivated when you’ve been hitting the wall, but those who get frustrated and slack off or quit are simply creating opportunities for those who don’t,” says Fawn Germer, a global speaker on leadership and performance and the best-selling author of Finding the Up in the Downturn.
“Just remember that the window is wide open to succeed when others are giving up. Motivation is a personal thing. You can find it in books, meditation, athletics, affirmations, friends, nature—just about anywhere. Know what inspires you and tap into that.” While some agents have a sound motivational strategy in place that works for them, many others may feel like they’ve tried everything to no avail. But experts and highly motivated professionals agree that persistence is the key. Whether their motivation comes from positive thinking, mentoring others or seizing obvious opportunities, successful CRSs know that good motivation can lead directly to success in any market.
Accentuate the Positive
The power of positive thinking—as described in scores of self-help and business books—serves as a common touchstone for many professionals. For example, the popular book and movie The Secret touts “the law of attraction,” which contends that positive thinking can bring positive outcomes, including wealth, health and happiness. And although skeptics may dismiss this line of thinking as New Age malarkey, Germer says positive thinking most certainly can work.
“The science of the brain is that it believes what it is told—whether it is true or not. If you wake up and say, ‘This market [is terrible], and I’m going under,’ you’ll be going under in a market that [is terrible]. But you’ll get an entirely different result if you repeat affirmations like ‘I have what it takes to be successful in any climate, and I am proving that now.’” Germer suggests that agents come up with a routine to help them remember to stay on a positive course.
“Come up with 10 positive statements and repeat them at least 10 times every day,” she says. “Soon, your brain will believe what you have told it and will create exactly what you have told it you are creating.” For Beth Jaworski, CRS, GREEN, with Shorewest Realtors in the Milwaukee area, some simple daily strategies help her maintain a positive attitude and outlook on her work and life. She begins every day by reading the motivational and inspirational emails she receives each morning—one from Motivation in a Minute and another from an animal shelter charity, which provides inspirational stories of animal rescues. “It’s a positive way to start the day,” she says. “It doesn’t have to have anything to do with real estate…it’s like exercise, it just brings your attitude up.”
Jaworski limits the amount of negative news she watches and spends minimal time in her office’s computer room, where she says everyone goes to complain. She also takes time throughout the day to stop and think how lucky she is. “I choose to believe it’s a great time and opportunity for real estate,” Jaworski says. “Staying positive is a choice you have to make every minute, every hour, every day. There are REALTORS® who tell clients, ‘I haven’t had a check in five months.’
That won’t inspire them to want to work with you. Clients want someone who is upbeat, but informed and realistic.” Her approach seems to be working. Jaworski says she usually averages about 40 property sales a year; last year she sold 49 and achieved her best year ever.
Lend a Hand
Sherri Teepen, CRS, ABR, with Keller Williams Realty WCMC in Austin, Texas, experienced a slump in business when a family illness occupied her time at the beginning of 2010. She credits the skills and strategies she learned at a motivational course she took last summer for getting her back on track. For example, the course inspired her to form a mastermind group—essentially a supportive group of colleagues who give each other feedback, brainstorm new ideas and keep each other focused and accountable—with nine young agents in her office.
The group meets monthly to discuss the progress of their transactions, their successes and their challenges. She also invites mortgage, insurance and title professionals to speak to the group, and then they discuss how that information can be used in their business. Teepen says it’s especially important for real estate professionals to have a support system and a process for accountability to help them stay motivated to succeed. While most real estate offices are ultracompetitive, she says the mastermind group provides a more collaborative space for professionals to share their insights and learn from one another.
“For me, it’s more of a ministry to help the young ones be successful. That keeps me motivated,” she says. “There’s nothing better or more energizing than helping someone else. When they have overcome adversity, it’s a huge adrenaline high for them and for me. I can’t imagine not getting excited about someone else’s success.” Teepen also belongs to another mastermind group of more experienced agents from other offices. “These people have been through the ups and downs—we challenge each other by asking, ‘Are you making your calls? Are you asking for the business? Are you joining organizations?’ That little nudge of accountability spurs you on. You don’t want to go to a meeting without doing your homework!”
Eyes on the Prize
Terry La Scola, CRS, ABR, an associate broker with Real Estate Teams LLC in Frederick, M.D., admits it can be challenging to stay on track, especially since the real estate market downturn has lasted longer than many experts had forecast. But she says it’s been easy for her to stay motivated because she has a drive to search for opportunities to succeed. La Scola recognized early on that the market downturn presented not only a challenge, but also an opportunity. “I saw where others were cutting back and melting, and I thought, ‘I’ll work harder, I’ll work longer, and I’ll figure out how to work smarter.’ I wanted to grow my team and take more market share.”
To do that, La Scola knew she needed to make some changes in the way she motivated herself and her team. For example, La Scola drafted a clear set of specific goals—everything from broad annual targets to monthly and weekly goals and daily lists. She required her staff to present their own goals at the weekly staff meetings. “Day by day, week by week, I love seeing our progress,” she says. “There is nothing more exciting than looking at the bulletin board and seeing you have accomplished most of your goals.” A clear vision and high standards keep La Scola on track. “My sales have increased every year since 2004, and I don’t think this year will be an exception to that. My motivation is, ‘Am I doing it better today than at this time last year?’ And that’s what really jazzes me.
You stay motivated because you constantly remind yourself where you want to be.” But motivation isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. If you know what inspires you, use it. If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to be open-minded and borrow a strategy from a colleague. Forward motion starts with a single step in the right direction. And it can’t hurt to smile and stay positive along the way.
Mary Ellen Collins is a writer based in St. Petersburg, Fla., and is a frequent contributor to The Residential Specialist.