January 26, 2009

A Lesson About Attitude

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there
were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take every person for what they are, and look for the good in them.

Blessings to all of you, my crackpot friends!

January 25, 2009

It's All About Service

Have you ever had one of those experiences with a company or service provider that truly made you feel like they were trying their best to exceed your expectations? They're rare, aren't they?When they do happen, you often say to yourself "why can't it happen like that every time?"

What about when it's you providing the awesome experience for a customer, client, co-worker or stranger? When you have gone that "extra mile," "above and beyond," or given "110 percent," have you ever felt that sudden feeling of pride?

I came across this blog post about "service" from a blog called Cultural Offering and it really hit me as the type of service we are all trying to achieve. Service that makes someone tell a friend how good the experience was. Service that makes people talk. Service that makes someone write about it in a blog.

Is the service you provide worth blogging about?

You've Got to Believe

Selling with Confidence

Achieving success in life can be hard. Achieving success in real estate is even harder. It certainly will be a little bit easier if you have people supporting you, who believe in you and will do whatever they can to help you attain the levels of success you aspire to reach.

Regardless of how many people you may have "on your team" or "in your corner," there is one person who MUST be supporting your efforts, 100% committed to the plan and doing everything he or she can do, day in and day out to work towards being the best. That person is Y-O-U!

We may look at customers and clients through rose-colored glasses sometimes, thinking that what ever we tell them, that they will listen to us. Now don't get me wrong, when you provide truly remarkable service to your clients they will tell others about their experience and the word of mouth and personal referrals will continue to keep you busy. Earning trust through a positive reputation and increased word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools you will ever find but you must understand that when customers or clients listen to you, they will be looking deeper than the meaning of your words. As they are deciding whether or not to believe you, they are trying to determine if you believe in yourself.

Try telling someone you're the "greatest Realtor" or "greatest (insert something here)" and chances are you won't be able to say it with a straight face. Now think back to the late 70's when Muhammed Ali bellowed "I am The Greatest." There wasn't many humans who ever doubted him, were there? He believed it so much, he made those around him (and even those silly enough to climb into the ring and fight him) believe it too.

Self confidence is difficult to teach and it usually can only be learned through experience. It's like the quote from Barry LePatner that stated "good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment."

I don't think it is any surprise that the more experience a Realtor has, the more confidence and self-trust they have in themselves. Your scripts and dialogues don't sound canned, your comfort with contracts and paperwork is obvious and your demeanor and calmness during negotiations is worth it's weight in gold.

Getting Your "Belief Training" from a Train?

Go back before you were in real estate, before college or even high school. When you think back to your early childhood, do you remember a story that most parents have read to their children called The Little Engine That Could?

As simple as the story is, it is exactly what I am talking about in this post. When you believe in yourself, you can push yourself even farther than you ever imagined, you can do things that others couldn't, you can truly affect people's lives through your efforts.

"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

It's an easy-to-remember affirmation that can be used anytime you find yourself face-to-face with fear, adversity or challenge.

"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

To truly succeed in sales, the first sales pitch you must make is to yourself. Once you believe in yourself, why wouldn't your customers and clients?

January 11, 2009

"Affirmative" Actions

Are you taking "Affirmative" Actions in your business life and your personal life?

Do you ever talk to yourself? You should. Using positive affirmations is one of the best ways I have found to continue to manage your attitude.

Affirmations are positive "self talk" statements that a person would say to themselves (silently or out loud) that help to "coach" your subconscious into positive actions and results. I am a big believer in using affirmations to help me maintain my positive attitude and help me achieve success.

“One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody's listening.”
~ Franklin P. Jones

So what is an affirmation?

According to Wikipedia, and affirmation is "a carefully formatted statement that should be repeated to ones self and written down frequently. For an affirmation to be effective, it needs to be present tense, positive, personal and specific."

It should be made clear that affirmations cannot be used to affect or change another person. Instead of saying a statement like "My Sellers will reduce their price to a fair market value" you could create an affirmation that focuses on something you can do. "I market my listings to create maximum exposure to today's Buyers."

Popular books such as The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, Money, and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Wealth, Health, and Happiness by Esther Hicks and the classic Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version, Restored and Revised by Napoleon Hill would be great places to start if you're interested in learning more about the concept of affirmations.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

~ W. Clement Stone

I have used affirmations for both my personal life and business life. I usually will say these affirmation's when I am running or when I am driving. I don't say them out loud but I do say them numerous times each to further ingrain the thoughts on my subconscious. Here are some examples of my affirmations that I either use or have used in the past:

  • "I am a great facilitator"

  • "I teach with passion and enthusiasm, instilling confidence and excitement in my students"

  • "Running keeps me healthy and brings me energy"

  • "13.1 I will run" (used when training for a half marathon)

  • "26.2 I will do" (used when training for the Columbus Marathon)

  • "Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever" - This was a quote made famous by Lance Armstrong, 7-time winner of cycling's Tour de France

  • "I always do my best because my best is all I can do"

Have you ever used affirmations? What are some of your favorite affirmations?

If you haven't ever tried affirmations, start simple. Make the statement easy to remember (or write) and make it a point to repeat it to yourself each day this week in the shower or on your way to work. Keep it up, even when it doesn't appear to be working.

Before you know it, your attitude will begin to "kick it up a notch" when it comes to the area of your affirmations.

Start with a Positive Attitude

The Difference Maker?

Is there really any other place to start than with a positive attitude? John Maxwell's book The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset is a fabulous book and one of my favorites when it comes to the topic of attitude and how important it can be to people's success.

It has become very cliche to speak about the impact a good attitude (or a bad one for that matter) can have on people but we know how true it is. I think in real estate it is magnified because we aren't operating in a vacuum - we must interact with others if we are to be successful.

Start with Your Alarm Clock

What time does your day begin? 5:30am? 7:15am? 10:30am? I don't really think the time your day begins is as important (although there is something to be said about that "early bird") as how it begins. When our alarm clock (internal or electronic) goes off, we all have a choice, don't we?

"Is it going to be a great day or is it not going to be a great day?"

I really think that if you cannot answer "it is going to be a great day" then you have only one option - hit the snooze button and give yourself 7 or 8 more minutes. Then, when the alarm sounds, ask the question again...

"Is it going to be a great day or is it not going to be a great day?"

Some days you may have to hit that snooze button a few times, huh? Whatever you choose, be forewarned that once your feet hit the floor, your subconscious already has been programmed for the day. So as you're laying there in bed, wiping the sleepers out of the corners of your eye and possibly realizing that you have a tough call to make to an overpriced Seller or maybe it's another day of showings with some picky, conversation-challenged Buyers, look at those as great opportunities to provide "truly remarkable service" and have fun doing it.

One of my favorite stories about attitude is this one...

So You Think You're Having a Bad Day

I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse, and he had a rough first day on the job: a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit and his ancient one ton truck refused to start.

While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, those troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again."

"Funny thing is,” he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before...”

January 4, 2009

Focus on Your Strengths

It's a new year and a great opportunity for people to start with a clean slate. Knowing what you know now, will your approach change at all?

I have always felt that people should focus on their strengths as opposed to their weaknesses, regardless of what they're trying to do. In the last post, we used golf as an analogy, saying that if you can improve your short game (putting and chipping) so it becomes a strength of yours, your overall game (score) will likely improve.

Think about your strengths and weaknesses. Do you enjoy doing the things you scored high in the self assessment on? Are they things you are good at, have fun focusing on and bring value to your career or clients? How about the weaknesses? Would you be okay if you didn't have to do them at all? Could you find ways to still succeed by delegating those tasks or duties?
I'd Like to Recommend a Book

As you kick off 2009, I'd like to recommend a book for you to find and read. It's called Now, Discover Your Strengths and it's written by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton. It really digs into the how and why of people's strengths and weaknesses and what you can do to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

In the book, Buckingham and Clifton define a strength as somethings that can be done with "consistent, near perfect performance." Think of your real estate business. What are the daily tasks and activities that you can do consistently with near perfect performance?

They go on to say that people need to “capitalize on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses.” Let's take technology as an example. If technology isn't your strong point, can you find ways to succeed in spite of it? Maybe take a successful agent to lunch and ask them how they became successful before fax machines, digital cameras and the Internet. Trust me, it can be done.

The authors posit that the “acid test” of a strength is “...only if you can fathom yourself doing it repeatedly, happily and successfully.” What are those things that you must face every day that you wouldn't mind doing repeatedly, happily and successfully?
What Matters Most?

If you ask me, make the things that matter like treating people with respect, following up with a personal touch in a frequest, consistent manner and having a genuine excitement to help people strengths and the rest will take care of itself.

What are you waiting for? Order the book now, read it, discover your strengths and start doing things that you want to do repeatedly, happily and successfully.