It’s easy to think that the problems we have are because of external factors. However, the truth is, most of the time our problems (especially the deep ones) are internal. It’s hard to look inward. When we do, we tend to find a self in conflict with warring identities, fears and purposes. When we face these, that’s when we find answers to the problems we face. - Greg
“There is no end to education. It’s not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is the process of learning.”
As soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew how to read this. As many of you know, growing up, school wasn’t my strength. Around this time of the year, I would start to get anxiety about going back to school because I disliked it so much. I found it to be an annoying bureaucracy of busywork. Full disclaimer: I exasperated the problem by being a lazy smart-mouth jerk of a student. Hard to believe, I know.
The message I had picked up in school was learning = degrees and degrees = success. Therefore, since I wasn’t focused on degrees, I must not like learning. However, that was never the reality. I’ve always loved learning! I just did it differently than sitting in a classroom. Now I’ve come to see that learning is a lifestyle, not a destination. It’s not a degree, certification, letters before or after your name. Those are accomplishments, but learning is more than that.
This book helps us to see that learning is a lifestyle that we need to pursue, not a destination to reach.
Bradley Staats gives us 8 steps to “Never Stop Learning”
1. Learn from Failure
2. Focus on Process, Not Outcome
3. Ask the Right Questions
4. Recharge and Reflect
5. Be Yourself
6. Play to your Strengths
7. Specialize Today, Seek Variety Tomorrow
8. Learn from others
3 MILLION! That’s how many copies of this book have been sold. I’ve heard about it for years but somehow just recently read it.
We tend to think that our lives are defined by the huge moments we experience. Getting married, having kids, graduations, moving someplace new, really huge life experiences. What if life is really defined by something much smaller? What if it’s defined by the thousands of words that we use each and every day? This book pulls back the curtain by acknowledging that communication is harder for us than we often like to admit, and then gives us the tools we need so our communication can be done with purpose and on purpose.
Kerry Patterson defines a crucial conversation as a conversation that has 1) high stakes, 2) opposing opinions, and 3) strong emotions. I know the degree varies, but that’s just about every conversation that we have! The goal is dialog. The author defines dialog as “the free flow of meaning between two or more people.” Conversations do not naturally go this way. In their natural state, conversations are filled with bullying, silence, manipulations, masking, resentment, hurt, and the list could go on.
He says that we need to enter conversations with mutual purpose and mutual respect. This is the key to having great conversations. Then he moves to what he calls “The Path to Action.”
1. See and Hear – This is where you seek to understand not only what the person you are talking to is saying but also why they are saying it.
2. Tell a Story – We are always telling ourselves stories. We need to take control of our stories and make sure they are based upon reality.
3. Feel – The stories that we tell ourselves cause us to feel specific ways. Here are some good questions to ask ourselves… What emotion is this conversation creating? Am I, reacting (unconsciously) or choosing to respond (consciously) based out of my feelings? What evidence do I have to support the story that I’m telling myself?
4. Act - This is when you bring clarity to the conversation. What action is going to be taken and what is the plan moving forward?
We live in a world full of words. However, it seems like we are a long way away from knowing how to use those words to navigate positive conversations. This book is a huge step in the right direction.
It’s hard to believe, but Q2 is here! I’ve learned that beginnings and endings have amazing power. Are you ready to make Q2 a powerfully and purposeful 12 weeks? I’m 100% convinced that you can achieve more in 12 weeks than most people do in their entire year!
Here are 5 steps to help you get on track in Q2!
#1 Look back – What did you learn?
Here’s an easy way to do this: write down three things that went well over the last three months, then write down three things that didn’t. This requires you to be honest with yourself. As difficult as this can be, leaders, position themselves as self-learners.
#2 Formalize it – What is your plan?
Typically we recommend that you take 3 days to plan your year, 1 day to prepare your quarter and a few hours to schedule your month.
#3 Invite accountability – Who will know?
Who have you asked for accountability from?
Accountability works well and is incredibly powerful when we invite it into our life. Who knows your plan? Who can talk to you honestly about how you’re doing with it? When you show your plan to others, it gives it power and helps you when interruptions come along the way.
#4 Build your team – Who do you depend upon for your success?
We like the idea that we are lone rangers, that created and achieved our own success, but that is never the case. We all depend upon a whole team of people along the way. Who are those people in your life? Can you come up with 15, 20, maybe 25 people? When you see this, it brings you to a place of gratitude and humility. This quarter, what can you do to acknowledge them, encourage them, and help them grow in their success?
#5 Celebrate wins – What metrics will you celebrate over the next 12 weeks?
We love achievements. We love when a sale happens or a project is completed. However, these are typically sometimes few and far between — and often we don’t have full control over these outcomes. What we do have control over is the activity that we put forth every day. Create wins based on this activity and celebrate ofte
Realtors, I love you. You are some of the hardest-working, most professional, most-driven people I know.
However, recently I’ve been in more and more rooms with agents. Let’s say I’m in front of 5-10 realtors, right? I ask this simple question: “When do you work?” Almost guaranteed, 80 percent of the room — sometimes 100 percent — will say some variation of: “I work all the time. 24/7, etc”
I have a lot of hot takes on this, so let’s dive into it.
The reality: It’s not true.
It’s physically not possible. You do sleep some, you do eat at some point during the day, you do scroll on Facebook and, even occasionally, watch Netflix. You got a family? You probably spend some time with them as well. A beer once in a while isn’t so bad … oh, and how about the gym? Now, yes, while getting that beer or hitting that gym you might be networking and meeting people, and that’s kinda sorta work, but the reality is that you don’t actually work 24/7. No one really does, even those that claim it. (In fact, the people that claim they work 24/7 probably work less than average.) In reality, per science, the ceiling on human productivity is about 55 hours/week. If you’re locked in M-F, that’s still a series of 11-hour days. It’s a lot of work. But it’s not 24/7, no.
Isn’t real estate about freedom?
Think for a moment why you got into real estate. My guess was for FREEDOM. Financial freedom, time freedom, travel freedom. If you are “working” or tied to your phone 24/7, does that really sound like freedom?
A note on client expectations
The common objection to this whole context is “I have to work 24/7, or else my clients won’t use me.” OK. I want you to think like this: except in the case of absolute emergency with your body or your car, do you expect a doctor or mechanic to be available at 3 am? Most people do not. Do you know a lot of people you’ve worked with who prefer to sign house documents or go over context and financials at 2:15 am? Maybe there are a few people on the planet like that, sure. They are not common. Most clients also have families and lives outside of buying a home. They want to do the transactions within regular, reputable hours for their betterment as well. Bottom line: this is your business. You set the expectations on when you can be available, and you meet the tougher clients where they’re at. But keep everything within acceptable boundaries.
PS: You are more than your job
If you invest an overwhelming majority of your energy, time, and passion into your career, where does that ultimately get you? I want you to invest a lot into the professional dimension of your life but what if you were also able to invest time in other dimensions? How would that affect the joy and love that you have for life? In fact, ever heard of a “Four-Way Win?” It’s a reputable concept — Wharton business school professor came up with it! — where you — WAIT FOR IT!! — get more done by focusing on work less. A-ha!
The solutions that are in front of you
Realize that you are in charge of your schedule: You and you alone detect when you will work and do not work. No one else has that power over you. Set boundaries that you and those that love you think will lead you to have a great life. Then communicate those boundaries to the clients that are wanting to work with you. Most of the time, you will find, that they are 100% okay with it.
Work when you work, and be off when you’re off: If you are sitting at your home office and scrolling Facebook 95% of the time, that is NOT real work! Also when you are at the dinner table with your family, that’s a great time to be off, so leave the phone in the other room. So many of us try to overlap being at work and being off and what ends up happening is that we do neither well.
Seek clarity: Clarity on your purpose, clarity on your goals, clarity on when you will work, clarity on expectations for clients, clarity on what you will and will not do, clarity on what you delegate, and on and on the list can go. Clarity first with yourself and then with those around you will bring a level of focus to your life that will allow you to be successful in all areas of life. A quick note on delegation too: although this study was done with lawyers and not realtors, it showed that the most effective delegators made way more money than those who couldn’t delegate. Something to consider.
Our culture has come up with this idea that it’s a badge of honor to “always be working” or to always be “busy.” In fact, there’s a whole set of research now about how impressed Americans are by “busyness.” Despite all this focus in those directions, the reality is that in just about every measurable way, people are not happier. They have more stress, higher anxiety, and less joy than they did a generation ago. That doesn’t mean the “good old days” were perfect, but maybe we are not heading in the right direction either.
I can’t say that I’ve always modeled this well. I remember a friend telling me that I need “balance” in my life. I really don’t know how to measure or obtain that. I tended to be more on the side of- I sprint like crazy for six months and then am forced to mentally, emotionally and physically cruise for a month. What I want in life is calibration: different facets of my life that function together and are in line with my greater purposes. Where my relational life isn’t robbed by my professional life and my professional life is sabotaged by my relational life. Shouldn’t we all want that?
Greg – Coach/Trainer – The Tappe Group
You’ve probably heard the term. If not, it refers to this: during the Mad Men era, where you start working for a company after earning your college degree, you slowly move up the corporate ladder, getting a yearly Christmas bonus, an occasional plaque, and when you have reached a certain milestone with a company (either 20+ years or end of a career), you receive a gold watch.
The Current Era
It’s a bit different. First of all, the average job tenure in America right now is about 4.6 years — which is, perhaps surprisingly an increase from 1983, when it was 3.5 years. But still, no one is getting a gold watch at 4.6 years! What is interesting is that I work with dozens of companies and I don’t hear much talk about awards for longevity? However, I do hear a lot about awards for top performer, most sales, highest recruitment, or highest % of growth. Just look at your Facebook feed, you will see the recognition flow out monthly, quarterly, and annually. Now, it can be argued that it’s better than the large majority of companies that are likely to do nothing at all to recognize their employees.
The question that I want to ask is, what should we be rewarding and what are the foundational values behind our awards. It will have to be addressed at another time, but philosophically, values should drive awards just as ethics should drive laws, not the other way around.
The Gold Watch –
It celebrates loyalty, commitment, and steadfastness. Those are good things, right?
The idea of monthly awards celebrating selling, performance, and hustle; also good things.
The problem is, they both have weaknesses as well.
The gold watch approach can lead towards apathy, mediocre performance, and decreasing creativity.
The top producer awards can fuel self-serving, individualistic behavior, selling over valuing people, and an unhealthy workaholic approach.
Is This a Business Issue or a Societal Issue?
That’s the interesting question to me.
For most of human history, identity came from the tribe — i.e. the group we participated in. This is what gave us meaning and validation. If the tribe succeeded, we counted that as our success. Spartans could hunt and kill Helots, but they were expected to die for the sake of Sparta. You grew corn so you could trade it with your neighbor who grew fruit. You had a mutual desire to see success for the whole as you worked in your individual area. Identity came from the success of the whole.
Modern man has flipped that.
Now, we are told our identity comes from within. Just think of all of the Disney movies that talk about going and “finding yourself.” Leave the island (tribe) and find out who you are (Moana). Frozen is about the need to escape to find and accept your true self. Meaning comes from within.
The question, then: do we need to disconnect from community to find ourselves or do we find ourselves as part of a community?
Should we award those that make the whole better or should we award those that achieve great things on their own?
That is the True Question
A lot of companies do have signs hanging up in the office like “TOGETHER WE WIN,” but then their entire incentive and recognition system is individually-driven.
That doesn’t work.
There needs to be three attributes to how this is designed:
Be purposeful, as in- What is the purpose of recognizing people? What behaviors in others are you hoping to inspire?
Be intentional, as in- Do it regularly and proclaim the intent and the reasons for this person or this team receiving the recognition when it happens. This requires some creativity. Maybe you reward for some different reasons other than what is typically thought about. Think of ways you can reward activity and effort over just results.
Be aligned between how you compensate/reward and what you believe are your core values
Again, cultures that often talk of togetherness and collaboration and winning as a team only have recognition programs for top sales guys. Those cultures are lying to all the other employees, and eventually those employees will see through that. (It might take years, yes.)
But if you have a culture of collaboration and reward teams of 3-4 people that worked across departments/silos together, then you are sending the message that “Teams and collaboration do matter!”
That’s purposeful, intentional, and aligned.
Think More About What You’re Doing, Too
There are roughly 2,400 Google searches per month for ’employee recognition ideas.’ That’s really not that many when you consider how many people are managers/bosses in the world, and the low volume shouldn’t be too surprising.
In this book I recently read, The Carrot Principle, they discuss one particular set of employee recognition ideas.
Let me set this up for you.
They refer to another book, Hardwiring Excellence, and four questions you can ask an employee at 90 days. The four questions are all good ones:
Have we lived up to our promises to you?
What do you think we do best?
What have you seen in your other jobs that might work here?
Have we done anything in 90 days where you might consider leaving?
These four questions are awesome to ask at the three-month mark. It’s all about showing the employee you value them.
It’s an easy, cost-effective version of employee recognition ideas.
So in various studies around these four questions, consultants have asked employees one simple question:
Has your manager ever asked you any of these four questions?
In years and years of asking that question, they’ve never heard the word “yes.”
That’s a problem.
Again: rewards and recognition are about purpose, intent, and alignment. Focus there.