The Magic of Mastery

Andy Herrington writes on how to become a superstar in Real Estate.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, brought the concept of the 10,000 hour rule into the mainstream consciousness. The theory says that it takes a person 10,000 hours of ‘deliberate practice’ to become a master in any given field.

So if it is this simple and takes a little over a year (416.67 days, to be more precise – double this if you want to sleep at all) to become a master, why are so few realtors truly ‘masterful’ in real estate? In every area you will have a handful of masters in different areas of real estate. Buyers, sellers, marketing, social media, farming; the list goes on. They are the innovators and trail blazers. They see what will happen, and are seemingly always in the right place at the right time. The first thing I notice is that very few are masters in multiple areas. I began to study this and have found that the 10,000 hours are important, but the phrase ‘deliberate practice’ is a little too simplified for most people. The three main keys to becoming a master are:

  • Deliberate practice
  • Practical application
  • Focus

Most people have time for only one piece of the puzzle: practical application, actually doing the business. They do not have time for daily specific practice and cannot afford to focus on just one area of real estate.

Practice is about being perfect. Practical application rarely ever is. Practice is imperative because it finds the errors in our ways, and refines our systems into more powerful tools. The very best of the best, the masters, specifically schedule and set aside time to practice, learn and grow in their focused area of expertise. They seek out new ways and refine their own speciality so they are never behind the times. They understand and place a high value on improvement, which allows them never to be stagnant in their business.

The last element is truly the hardest because there are so many distractions for the agent these days. Many who do find the time to practice, and practically apply what they practice, lack the blind focus and end up trying a little of everything, becoming a jack of all trades but a master of none. Look at sports: the greatest players do one or two things better than everyone else. Elite players are faster, or harder, or more accurate or better strategists, but rarely is any one player the best in all of those categories. In hockey the hardest shooter is not the most accurate and in baseball the home run hitter is never the hardest throwing pitcher. At the same time, in all sports there are many players who are ‘all-round players’, but they are never the superstars. The real estate industry works the same way; it is too vast to become a master in many different areas. Focus is needed to truly carve out your place and become the superstar you know you are.

Now, looking at these 10,000 hours we can see it is a whole lot harder to achieve widespread mastery. In the average work year there are 3,744 hours of work a year. Most of us do not spend 30 minutes a week in ‘practice’ mode, or 26 hours a year – at this rate it will take a person 384.61 years to become a master! Next we can add the practical application. Even when we are working 10-hour days, six days a week, this will at most count for 14 focused hours a week; the rest of our time is spent on the other tasks of being a real estate agent. We now only need 13.74 years to become a master in one aspect of real estate. The real issue is that you cannot focus on multiple areas at a time and truly expect to ever reach mastery. So if you are in the business for 30 years, you can probably become an expert in two categories. This also assumes that you can focus for 14 years on a specific area at a time. Mastery is simple, but it is not easy.

We all know the experts in our areas: ‘the farmer,’ ‘the lister,’ ‘the marketer,’ ‘the buyer’s agent,’ and we know in our hearts that we are better at this or that than they are, we are smarter, and we work harder. We all wonder how they accomplished so much with what appears to be so little. It is their ability to focus, their dedication to specific deliberate practice and their consistent practical application of the very best systems that create their superstar status.

So to become the superstar you wish to be, find your desired expertise and focus on it. Work hard day after day and do not lose sight. Do not get distracted. Do not quit. And over time you will become that hugely successful realtor who leaves people wondering why they get so much business with what appears to be so little.

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Andy Herrington

Andy Herrington has been a full time real estate coach since 2008 and is currently the Director of Coaching at Powerhouse Coaching Inc.