habits

Slowing Down

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
— Ferris Bueller
ferrisbuellersdayoff-07.jpg

Even in 1986 when Ferris Bueller was teaching the rest of us how to play hooky, we had a general idea of how fast life moved, but the truth is - even though we know, we rarely slow down long enough to look around. I've written before about slowing down enough to maintain your health and take care of yourself, but this is probably a concept that can use the extra attention. Why? Because rarely is life all about you.

April is a pretty stacked month for me. I'm traveling almost three of the four weeks of this month with little time to slow down. I've been telling myself that this is simply what it takes to grow the business and that these are all passion projects. Both things are true by the way. But just as I was unpacking my bag from my last trip so that I could pack for my next trip - I slowed down enough to look around. I realized that the ones that loved me most - my family - needed me to stay. 

So often, we lean on those around us to fill in the gaps while we're out chasing our dreams, but sometimes we've got to slow down enough to lift them up the way they always uplift us. 

We're All A Little Flawed

helping-hands.jpg

I have a confession to make. I'm incredibly flawed. I try not to be, but I am. Try as I might, there are times that I stumble, times that I fail, and times that I let people down. It gets to me and that's when I have a choice to either let my head play out every worst case scenario, or to dust myself off and rise to the occasion. We all have these choices and how we choose makes all the difference. 

A friend once told me about a Japanese practice called "kintsugi." In this process they repair a broken object with precious metals - liquid gold, liquid silver, or lacquer dusted with powdered gold. The process not only repairs the broken object, but highlights the breaks - celebrating them as value, not flaw. I adore this practice because it makes me think of the human story. We're all a little broken and flawed, but I have always believed that it is those very flaws that make us who we are. Each flaw has a story, a lesson, and a seed of growth. 

When I work with teams and brokerages, I often suggest an activity where they openly identify not only their strengths, but their weaknesses. I encourage every member of the team to identify these qualities both in themselves and in their colleagues. Admittedly, this exercise can get a little uncomfortable, but the result is truly amazing. What comes out of this exercise is not unlike kintsugi. Individuals not only gain a deep understanding of what they do well, but what they struggle with, too. Their weaknesses are celebrated equally with their strengths. You see, only when you identify what you struggle with are you able to improve and grow those skills. Further, you're able to leverage those around you. To me, this is what true growth is all about.

Admitting the flaw can often be the hardest part. We don't want to be vulnerable so instead, we charge ahead. The beauty in admitting your flaws is that you begin to see the strengths of those around you - both in your professional and your personal life. You begin to identify who you can turn to and lean on in times of need, and that...well, that is nothing short of perfect.  

Love Yourself

When we talk about love, most of the time we immediately think of others. How can we show others that we love them? That we care? But, what about loving yourself? Why don't we talk about that as much? 

27788621_10106177150318137_2760280429815653925_o.jpg

Most of you know that I am an avid (okay...maybe more like obsessive), Peloton rider. In early 2017, I made the commitment that so many of us do as we ring in the New Year to shed some unwanted weight. I know I'm supposed to say that it was about my health, which it was, but it was also about my appearance. I felt bad because my health was in bad shape, I looked bad because I was overweight, and I felt worse because I wasn't doing a damn thing about it. Something had to change. Well, most of you who have known me for some time now know that the Peloton was my solution. Each day, I'd ride, I'd recommit, and I'd love myself enough to carve out an hour for me. On Tuesday, I celebrated my one year #Peloversary. It was a year of over 3,000 miles; 269 rides (I know, but my legs wouldn't let me get that 270th ride in); countless hours of sore muscles; pounds shed; and friends made from all over the country. But really, it was a year of falling in love with myself all over again. A year of carving out time to commit to better myself so I could be better for others. To loving who I am - flaws and all, because well, if I don't love myself - how can I hope others will?

27867989_10156278143274455_6746106916565444861_n.jpg

This isn't about me though, it is about you. In business, we often put ourselves last. We fill our days with clients and to-do lists and fill our nights with activities for/with our children, friends, and significant others. We give our whole selves to everything around us, but put ourselves and our health and well-being last. Here is the problem with that though: what happens when you've got nothing left to give? My good friend Jim Wahlberg reached out to congratulate me on my Peloversary this week and I admitted to him that part of what got me through the last year was something I once heard him say..."you have to make time for your health now, or you have to make time to be sick later." Everytime I felt like quitting, Jim's words rang through my head. 

So, for you, what can you do to show yourself a little love? How can you carve out some time to pour into yourself so that you can be capable of pouring into others? 

Practice Makes You Prepared, Not Perfect

As I sit here watching the rain pour outside my window, I am reminded that perfection is all in the eye of the beholder. For some, a perfect day consists of the sun shining, time spent with family and friends, great food and better company, maybe even a little bit of work thrown in. Most people don't think of a rainy day as perfect. That's where sayings like "saving for a rainy day" make sense. Rainy days just aren't perfect. But, what if you prepare for the rain? What if you're the agent that has the umbrella or the raincoat? After all, even in the most beautiful climates it rains every once in awhile. Rather than be brought down by the rain, what if we prepared for it ahead of time? Then it doesn't have as big of an impact as it otherwise might. Are you preparing for the rainy days in your business?

I've always been a big on practice. It is one of the things that first drew me to coaching. The importance of practice, of preparation, of commitment - that is the stuff where legends are made. Just watch The Karate Kid. Right? As a kid, I played softball. I loved the outfield, but I was also a talented catcher behind the plate. After practice, my coach used to have the whole team line up and take turns throwing balls in the dirt toward me. I would spend 30 minutes dropping to the dirt, covered in dust blocking the balls from hitting the backstop. It was frustrating to say the least, but it made me a better player all around. It refined my focus. It helped teach me the fundamentals of committing to a goal and achieving it. It prepared me to field grounders in the outfield and behind the plate. It helped speed up my reflexes. My coach used to say "practice makes perfect" every time I begrudgingly took my spot preparing to practice. But, as I've grown older (and hopefully wiser), I've realized that she was wrong. Practice doesn't make perfect. It makes you prepared, which is close, but not the same thing as perfect. 

Okay, this is probably making any perfectionist twitch as they read, but stay with me for a moment. Perfection isn't what we're after, right? Why? Because perfection doesn't exist. It is a pipe dream. It is something that we have made up in our minds to justify our actions. Does that mean we shouldn't chase it? No. I think chasing perfection is perfectly acceptable. Yes, I understand the irony there. I just think we need to be okay with where we land. Even top agents feel the ebbs and flows of the market shifts. 

Practicing to prepare. That's different. It is a far better business (or even life) strategy. Preparedness allows you to pivot when outside factors impact the circumstances.  Preparation allows you to stay calm in moments where someone who chases perfections is feeling panicked. Prepared professionals have far more successful careers than those that strive for perfection because they adapt to their circumstances instead of constantly trying to shape them. This is what your practice should be chasing. 

So, what are you chasing...perfection or preparedness? 

Big Picture Business

Just like that, the first quarter of the year is over. If your market is anything like Raleigh, you didn't see much of a lull during the winter months. You continued to face low inventory and buyers continued to compete for the best homes. But, how does the market impact your business goals? 

We are working with the agents at Bamboo Realty for their quarterly coaching sessions this week, which got me thinking, do you track your progress? We are all taught to plan for the year ahead, but did your planning end after January? For a lot of agents, that is the case. They spend the holiday season and the month of January pouring over a business plan (Pro Tip: this should be done well in advance of this point. We recommend Q3 business planning for the following year) and they have forgotten the goals by March. Worse, the agents adjust their goals based on their production. No! This is backward approach! One of the tactics that we use with our agents is to help them break large goals into smaller, more consumable goals. If the agents consistently hit their smaller goals, they will ultimately hit (or surpass) their larger annual goals.

For example, say that you want to complete a total of 36 transactions this year. Great! The first thing you should do is divide your total goal by 12 (representing 12 months in the year). Okay...so that tells you that to hit your goal, you need to complete a minimum of 3 transactions per month. But wait...when you set your initial goal, did you factor in other expenses (i.e., Association dues, MLS dues, marketing expenses, administrative expenses, taxes, etc.)? No? Well, then you may need 1-2 (or more) transactions to subsidize those expenses and still hit the goal number of income that you want to achieve. You see, there is a big difference between your Baseline Goals (what you need to survive) and your Growth Goals (what you want to achieve). Many agents make the mistake of setting Baseline Goals then wonder why they aren't growing or why they're constantly in debt. 

If this is you, don't worry. This is a pretty easy fix. We recommend backing into your goals. Establishing what you need to make, what you want to make, and what you're willing to do in order to achieve those goals. Then, work with a coach (hey, we've got those too, just drop us a line! ) to help track your progress. Approaching your business with a "big picture mindset" can have a drastic impact on your success. Many agents ask if this cost vs. benefit approach of a big picture mindset will impact their level of service. My answer, "don't let it." Evaluating the cost and benefits of transactions, relationships, etc. doesn't make you an impersonal business owner, it makes you a smart business owner. Remember, the biggest payouts aren't always in the form of a check. Sometimes, it is the relationship that has all the value. 

Until next time...

Doing Things That Scare You

Have you ever been up at 4 am and watched the crazy infomercials that come across TV? As a business-owner, I actually suggest watching once in awhile. Sure, some of the stuff is cheesy, catchy, and borderline crazy; but some of the products do exactly what great products should. The product solves a problem. What most of these products have in common though is that someone watching is sitting on their couch saying "I thought of that!" Here is the difference though - the person on the couch never did a damn thing about it. 

I think Eleanor Roosevelt was onto something when she gave the advice to "do one thing each day that scares you." Reading quotes like that inspires us. They ignite the fire inside us that make us feel like we can achieve anything. But then, we are faced with executing on ideas. Talk about something that scares you! Taking an idea from execution is just about as scary as it gets sometimes. Especially if you're a big thinker. Ideas inside are head are safe - from judgement, from failure, from difficulty; but when we bring our ideas out into the light of day and say "I'm going to _____!" Well then, shit gets real. 

Last week, I wrote about your team and how we all have one. What I alluded to is that your team is the group that gets you through the tough stuff. Well, your team is who gets you through the stuff that scares you. Having outside perspective can often provide much needed clarity to situations because the outsiders aren't emotionally tied to the idea. They are in execution mode - emotionally unattached, laser-focused on how to get from A to B - without much concern as for why B is so important. This is really difficult for the "idea person" to face. Why? Well, when ideas are faced with judgement, possible criticism, or worse - pivot - it can be really difficult for the person who was originally tied to the idea, but it is the key to great execution. 

You see, you don't have to be an "idea guy" to have great ideas. People have great ideas all the time. And almost just as frequently, people talk themselves out of great ideas. What you have to have is the people that help push you from idea to execution. Who are those people for you?

 

 

Creating Your Community

More and more, I find myself looking outside of the real estate industry for inspiration. So, this week, as we tackled the concept of branding on one of our training "B-Line" calls here at Bamboo Realty, I couldn't help but reference my latest obsession - my new Peloton bike. Those of you that follow me on social media may have noticed this new obsession; however, what you likely haven't seen, unless you're a Peloton rider yourself, is the power of the Peloton community. After just a week with my bike, the power of their community has vastly changed how I ride and my drive to keep going. 

Of course, it's all in the name though! "Peloton" is a word used to describe the main group of riders in a race. Riders group together to enhance their performance - so riders in a peloton work together, conserve energy and perform better because of one another. Hm, sounds a lot like a community to me. One might begin to wonder how a spin bike with technology for at-home on-demand rides actually enhances performance or creates community, but I tell you - this company has mastered it.

Founded in 2012 as a kickstarter, Peloton was created by people who "loved cycling but had a hard time finding a workout that consistently fit their schedules." The mere idea of this had me hooked long before I was a rider. You see, I was sold on the problem they were facing and their way of solving it. I too loved working out, but for me - life had gotten in the way. Peloton works to utilize technology to deliver an engaging experience that truly can act as a replacement for an in-person class, because it delivers the same level of experience. By bringing classes on-demand to your home, they're able to solve one of the big reasons why many of us stop working out - because we simply can't find the time. 

But, without community, motivation is easily lost. Communities not only keep us engaged, they keep us accountable. Many adults who continue to work out regularly have gym memberships merely because they need to go somewhere to actually work out. Personal trainers have made a career out of not just expert advice, but providing accountability. (Yes, real estate coaches have too). This isn't a bad thing. It's just honest. Wherever there is a void in the market, there is a business opportunity. Peloton nailed that opportunity. 

When you create a community, your brand becomes powered by it. You aren't constantly looking for new ways to tell your story - your community begins to tell your story. Communities are created through satisfied consumers who believe that your work matters. This isn't just a past client that thinks you did a good job for them. That's great, but that is a singular story. Communities are a collection of stories - a collection of paths crossing in a way that ties the individuals together through a common bond. Community is created by people who know you would care just as much about anyone you worked for, because you care just as deeply about each of your consumers. Community is created by people who care deeply about one another. By people who believe in one another. By people who want others to succeed just as much as they want themselves to succeed. Community is created by people. So, regardless of busy schedules or any other distractions, don't look past the people who you are building your community with. Each one of them has a story that is now part of your brand. Each one of them will now tell their version of your brand story. Becoming part of one another's stories is magical. It is deeply personal. Relish that opportunity. Don't waste it. 

Just last week, the Official Peloton Rider Page on Facebook hit 25,000 members and to commemorate the moment, they put out this great video from folks throughout the company to say thank you. Want to see how companies nail creating community? Click the image below to see the video

I realize that there is a big difference between Peloton and real estate, but then I wonder - is there really? Don't we all have the opportunity to create a community around a common bond? I think so. 

Intentional Happiness

I've always been sort of a morning person. By that I simply mean that I naturally wake up early. What I wasn't doing was designing my mornings to make an impact. I was going through the motions and things were getting accomplished, but I might as well have not been present. I wasn't engaging with the kids as they ate their breakfast, instead I was cleaning up the mess that really could wait 5 more minutes until they finished. I wasn't reading and continuing to challenge myself to learn. I wasn't working out, I was chugging my coffee and immediately sitting down at my computer or rushing out the door, convinced that I was being effective by merely showing up. I was doing, but I wasn't being intentional with my time. You see, showing up isn't enough. You have to do more than just show up. Your work, your clients, your kids, your dog, etc. expect you to show up. How do you expect to make a difference by merely meeting expectations? Moreover, does your presence even matter when it is just your physical presence, not all of you? I say, no. 

Last fall, I decided to choose to make mornings a more intentional time. I was the heaviest that I had ever been in my life, lacked the self-confidence that I had once oozed, sleep deprived, and always wondering why I never felt like there was enough time in the day. It was bizzare since I felt so fulfilled in so many areas and in so many of my relationships. What I realized was that despite my attempts, my happiness had to start with me and my choices, not the joy that I found in others. So...I chose to give up coffee, which may seem ludacris to most, but was very intentional for me. I wanted to break out of the routine of needing something to get by so that I could focus more on what I was doing. And I did. By removing part of my routine, I was able to fill it with intentional action. Yes, the first week was awful. I would melt at the mere smell of a freshly roasted brew, I was probably pretty irritable, and I thought, "what a dumb idea to replace coffee with a workout!" as I pedaled the bike still half asleep. But, I was determined to find the time to be the better version of myself. So, I committed. I stopped complaining about being achy and tired from my lack of coffee. I started finding the time to be on that bike every single morning. I missed some days (hey, we're not perfect), but I worked really hard to make sure that I was creating a habit, not just a fling. For me, it wasn't about the weight or even really my self-confidence. It was about making a difference in my day. It was about choosing to do instead of dream. 

Sure, it was scary carving out an hour when I wasn't sure that an extra hour in my day even existed. A big "a-ha" moment for me was when I realized that I didn't have to spend the time 100% focused on pedaling. After all, pedaling is a pretty mindless task in and of itself. So, I found other ways to use the time. I found a way to balance carving out an hour of each day without losing it somewhere else. I often spend my rides on emails or reading a book that helps me in my work and taking notes, watching recorded webinars, making my morning calls, making lists on my phone of things I'd like to tackle that day, or even just laughing with the kids as they play Legos on the bonus room floor and I hammer out my 10 miles in the corner. It has been fascinating because I am expanding my horizons in more than just my workout. I'm reading again! A lot. I'm writing again. A lot. I'm creating again. A lot. I am finding so much uncovered wonder in this version of myself.

So how do you magically uncover an hour in your day? Well, it is a whole lot easier than it seems. In fact, we probably have hours of our weeks that exist and aren't being used effectively. We just have to look. When creating a habit, we thrive off predictability and routine. A lot of coaches may recommend creating habits by tackling the task at the same time each day. Unlike so many coaches recommend, I rarely ride the bike at the exact same time each day, I merely focus on tackling this task in the morning - before the day has the opportunity to go off the rails. Four months later and almost 15 lbs lighter, I feel on top of the world. You see, it has very little to do with the actual weight (although that part admittedly feels good too). I now find myself being an active participant in my own life. I find myself being more calculated about my time and how I choose to spend it, more present in the moments that I choose to spend a certain way, and more effective at work. I am better able to nurture my relationships and nurture my career, because I'm finally nurturing myself. 

By spending time in the morning with intention and focusing on things that make me feel good, I am able to be intentional about the rest of my day. Do you have a task or goal that has been looming for a while? An unfinished project? Try carving out some time each morning to devote to that. I think you'll be surprised at how quickly things get accomplished. 

So, what are you going to tackle tomorrow morning?

Copy