IN THE COMPETITIVE industry that is real estate, agents wanting to improve their performance and knowledge may be reluctant to attack an area of weakness for fear of feeling like a ‘newbie’, or worse – failing! Tony Rowe looks at how to step around this hurdle which often stands between agents and their full potential.
TO SUCCEED IN any given profession, it is essential to commit to consistent improvement – and real estate is no exception. And just as in life, there are always going to be new skills to develop along the way. Whether we rise to the challenge and attack these new skills is up to us –it may be hard to step out of our comfort zone at first, but the results will always be worth it.
Agents, especially high-performing ones, play to their strengths – as they should. The notion of being a ‘newbie’, feeling awkward and slow in performing a task that someone else does really quickly (i.e. not being the expert) is scary for a lot of people. And often, agents are their own worst enemies: there are the agents who believe they ‘already know it all’, and those who believe they ‘know better’ than others and have ‘been there, done that’.
WHY DO WE NEED TO LEARN AND GROW?
The pace of change in the property sector (and society, generally) requires agents to be able to understand and respond quickly to constant shifts in how the business operates and how work must get done.
New business models are emerging, new technologies are being developed, and more sophisticated consumer behaviours are evolving. The capacity to learn and adapt faster than your competitors, may be the key to a sustainable and competitive advantage into the future.
Most high performing agents have a deep desire to understand and master new skills; they see themselves very clearly; they’re constantly thinking of, and asking, good questions about how to do things more efficiently, more effectively, and more intelligently. They have a capacity to tolerate their own mistakes as they embark on a persistent and consistent learning curve to greater skills and knowledge.
But for many of us, change can be hard. However, if we recognise that there is a natural resistance to change, then there is a genuine capacity to acknowledge there are new methods and new tools that will allow for both personal and professional growth opportunities. To be able to adapt to those new methods, and use the new tools, is an ‘acquirable’ skill.
High achievers in every industry, profession and sporting endeavour want to understand and master new skills that will allow them to out-perform the competition. These high achievers have a very clear appreciation of their strengths and their areas for improvement or development. The other thing they do, mostly quite well, is accept and tolerate mistakes as part of the improvement process.
ARE YOU REALLY OPEN TO LEARNING?
When we want to learn something, we focus on the positive – what we’ll gain from learning it – and can picture the time when we’re reaping those rewards. That vision of a better future propels us into action. Once we shift the focus from the challenges to the benefits, an increase in appetite occurs which encourages our focus on what might be initially an unappealing or challenging task.
We can increase our willingness to tackle those ‘chores’ by thinking about how to perform the task differently, to make it more interesting. This is possible by simply changing the thought pattern from ‘this is boring’ to ‘I wonder if I could…?’
By noticing the language used in thinking about the things that interest or excite us (How…? Why…? I wonder…?) and adopting a similar approach when it’s time to address or confront our response to a less-appealing task or a new skill, we can reconfigure our thinking to be more positive with the modified approach.
The next time you feel the urge to learn something new, or sense that you should, encourage yourself to ask and answer a few questions about it – Why are others so excited about this? How could this make my job easier? – and then seek out the answers. You’ll need to find just one thing about a ‘boring’ topic that sparks your curiosity. Then take just one step to answer the question you’ve asked yourself: research and read an article; query an expert; find a coach or mentor. The best solution will be whatever feels easiest.
This way, we begin the task of re-conditioning the brain to allow the adoption of new ideas.
FINDING THE RIGHT MINDSET
Once we become good or even excellent at some things, we rarely want to go back to being average at other things.
Great learners allow themselves enough latitude to accept that ‘L-plate’ condition on a regular basis.
Generally, when we’re trying something new and doing badly at it, we can be fairly harsh in our thoughts: I hate this. I’m such an idiot. I’ll never get this right. This is so frustrating! That static in our thoughts leaves little room for the learning brain to step in.
The ideal mindset for a beginner is to be both vulnerable and balanced: I’m going to be bad at this to start with, because I’ve never done it before, but I know I can learn to do it over time. When people are encouraged to expect mistakes, and to learn from them early in the process of acquiring new skills, the result is a heightened interest, persistence, and better performance.
The ability to acquire new skills and knowledge quickly and continually is crucial to success in a world of rapid change. Learning how to be an effective learner is critical to your success as an agent in a rapidly changing, fast-paced world of innovation. It takes hard work, commitment and dedication. It takes time, energy and effort. It takes a strong support network. It’s a challenging undertaking to strive to be ‘great’. But in the long run, it is worth it.