Attitude & Mindset

Perhaps the most important topic one cannot teach is mindset. You got that right. As a manager I am sure you think you need to teach your agents’ mindset because you need top notch agents to make your business profitable, and if they are not in the right frame of mind, they will never hit your goals. Recruiting the best agents might not be an option if they are happy and profitable where they are. So, your likely recruits come with baggage which prevents them from attaining their goals. They are hoping you are the fit that might make it happen, but let’s face it, wherever you go…there you are, as Thomas à Kempis said back 600 years ago. Your experienced recruits will often need a mindset reframing. As for your new agents? Most haven’t a clue and are looking for direction. Often, faced with the daunting task of filling a pipeline and the lack of a paycheck coming anytime soon, new agents lose their way in a downward spiral of confusion and despair.  

You understand that without a positive outlook, new agents will be lucky to last a year…and you can’t afford to carry them. So, what to do if you can’t teach a positive outlook or a vision that ensures success? How can they achieve a mindset revolution, when the very minds they need to change tell them what you are selling is worthless? It might seem hopeless. 

Yet you must convince them and move them in the direction of positivity. How can you square this circle? The right mindset is arguably the most important tool in a salesperson’s arsenal or for that matter in anyone’s toolkit who intends to be among the best and most successful in their profession. Athletes, mountain climbers, actors, entrepreneurs…poll any of the top people in these careers and you will universally find mindset at the top of what makes them who they are. You would think that with the number of publications on the topic, this would really be a teachable skill, but if that were true the bar for success would be a lower hurdle. This is because altering behavior is an almost impossible task and when it is accomplished the change is usually a result of deep-seated dissatisfaction with the way one is living life and a fundamental need to make a new start. It can happen, but sometimes it takes a shock. Let me give an example of a change I observed: 

I once had an agent come to me dissatisfied with his career (call him Ralph). Ralph was ready to abandon real estate all together. He said no one would work with him and that at every open house people would go out of their way to avoid being near him. “It makes me so angry, I just want to run after them and shout I WANT TO HELP YOU, DAMNIT!” I almost laughed, and he said, “You laugh at me, just like everyone else. Why are you so rude?” I apologized and said I was only laughing because the answer seemed so obvious to me. “WELL, ITS NOT OBVIOUS TO ME!” He got up to leave. I tried to stop him by expressing the thought that he was presenting in a way which simply could not lead to a connection, but that fell on deaf ears.  

Later that week as I was driving, I pulled up beside him at a stoplight (I saw the sign on the car), and so I turned and waved. He gripped the wheel and looked straight ahead. I rolled down the window and said “Ralph, good to see you!” Waving and grinning like an idiot. His knuckles turned a whiter shade of pale and so I tooted the horn a bit to get his attention. He shoved his middle finger in the air at me and took off at the green, tires screeching. That next week I called him into my office. He came in with an attitude and said, “I suppose you’ve called to sever me for being such a failure.” I said, well, no, not at all, did you know that was me at the light? He said, “What are you talking about?” I told him about the incident, and he broke down, tearing up in embarrassment.  

I then said I wanted to hear what was going on and that I probably wouldn’t have any advice for him, but that anything he told me would be kept in confidence. This allowed him to feel safe, and in the story he told I could hear the underlying thread…that he had lost his ability to appreciate life and missed enjoying the small things, as he used to do. He felt caught up in the need to fix everything. That was my clue. I knew we could not fix the issues at home or with his health, or even his fear of failure. But we could address the fundamental piece: the joy to be found in the small miracles of life.  

I asked him if he would be willing to try an experiment to change the situation. Ralph was desperate enough to try anything, so he agreed. I suggested he set aside 15 minutes or so, every morning, to sit outside and think of a few things he could be honestly grateful for that morning…small things, the song of a bird, the wind in the trees, as he used to do…and to write each one down, only that. While I can’t say this is a miracle cure for anyone else, for Ralph it made a difference. He began showing up happy, gathered clients, made sales, and never needed to see me about that issue again. 

So, not a teaching, instead a listening. To help your agents who need a sea change in attitude, buying them a book or bringing in a speaker might yield a quick change, but the change will fade as quickly. For a real and more permanent improvement something more profound is needed. You can help to provide that with compassionate listening, safety and by helping them to identify their own solutions.  

John Mijac
Managing Broker
Long Realty Foothills