Geoff Colvin on High Achievement in Real Estate

Talent is meaningless.

When I say that, do you believe me or do you think I’m crazy? If you think I’m crazy, then you also think that experts and researchers in high acheivement are also crazy…because they are coming to the very same conclusion!

In his 2009 book Talent Is Overrated Geoff Colvin explains what these experts and researchers are finding and learning. It’s a book I highly recommend you read. Why is this important to you? As I’ve mentioned before, how you think exceptional performances are achieved, whether in business or sports, will affect how you behave.

I’ve seen it in real estate so often. Agents throwing in the towel or dragging their feet because they feel they aren’t talented or the deck is stacked against them. Why bother trying if all your going to do is lose? If that describes how you feel, then you need to stop it…right now!

See, no matter who you are, exceptional performance is within your reach. Colvin explains there are about 8 aspects behind it. Let me show you.

1. Deliberate practice designed to improve performance

When looking at the early careers of greats like Immelt at GE and Ballmer at Microsoft what you will find is no indication of their future greatness. In fact, you’ll find a notable aimlessness.

The same was true with Jack Welch even into his mid-twenties.

But at some point these men decided that they wanted to become great in business. So they hunkered down and worked hard. They made their work a place they could practice to get better. How did they do that?

Well, deliberate practice doesn’t resemble what we normally do at the driving range where we drop a bucket of balls and swing away. Deliberate practice with an eye toward improved performance is practice that wants to work on a specific weakness.

Let’s take this to the real estate world to show you what I mean.

Let’s say for example you want to get more comfortable speaking in front of people. Well, most people will just start looking for opportunities to speak in front of strangers. While there is something to repetition (I’ll explain below), somebody who wants to improve their performance, however, will identify a weakness and then practice to improve upon that weakness.

Maybe more than one person has pointed out to you that you speak too fast. Well, you might find opportunities to speak to strangers and think to yourself, “Slow down. Slow down.” That, in essence, is deliberate practice with an eye toward improved performance.

2. Relentless repetition

Great performers and high achievers will not only look for specific aspects of their performance to work on, but they’ll look for a lot of those opportunities. It’s that repetition that will expose you to better and better opportunities of practice to get better.

And it’s important to work on all aspects of what you do, even on those areas that you think you’ll encounter maybe two or three times a year. For example, Tiger Woods would dump a bucket of balls into the sand trap and hit hundreds of shots even though he might be in that situation just two or three times a year.

So, the moral of this section is to practice a lot on all aspects of your real estate game.

3. Feedback

Critical to high acheivers success is deliberate feedback that is continuously available. Typically this comes through a teacher, coach or mentor, somebody who can watch their performance and then critique them on how well they did and what areas they need to improve upon.

You and I might walk into a listing presentation and think that it went pretty well. Unfortunately our opinion doesn’t count. If you could get feedback from your listeners, that would be superb.

A coach can listen to how you negotiate and critique way before you ever get into the real situation. When thinking about professional feedback, make sure it is someone well-respected. It won’t be cheap, but it will be worth it.

4. Relentless focus and concentration

Another trait of high achievers is an ability not to get distracted. Rather they keep their head down and work very hard when they are in the process of work or practice. This is not the mindless, trying-to-get-through-the-motions that typifies most of our work or practice habits. This is an attitude of paying heavy attention to what you are doing with the intention of improving that skill set.

This means being totally aware when you pick up the phone, dial it and talk to prospects. This means you have a goal you want to achieve, and you are not going to be satisfied until you achieve it.

5. Deliberate practice is hard

Listen, there is a reason why achievers are in the minority: it’s not easy putting in the hours that deliberate practice with an intention to improvement demands. Not very many people are willing to put in the time.

In a sense that’s good news…if all that distinguishes high achievers from mediocre performers is hard work, then you know that if you are willing to put in the years, you’ll one day be one of those high-achievers. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you are ‘talented.” Great success can be yours, too.

This could mean putting in an extra hour and a half every night before you go to bed to practice your negotiation skills or read a book on persuasion. High achievers have a work ethic that never stops, which is totally available to you, too.

6. Determine your goals before the work

Colvin points out that high achievers will focus on an aspect of their work BEFORE they go into it to determine a goal. It’s important to distinguish that their goals are not about the outcome but about the process.

For example, you would set as a goal to hear and understand objections when prospecting. But you would then focus on a specific part of that conversation, say, like listening for words that cue you into when they are raising an objection. You might even go as far as to make a list of possible words to listen for.

7. Observe yourself during the work

High achievers, Colvin also points out, will tend to practice metacognition when they are in the middle of their work. What he means by that is they observe themselves during their activities. They think about thinking.

In other words, they are being self aware, constantly evaluating inside their head how a conversation is going. Because they are observing themselves, they are able to adjust to improve their performance.

8. Evaluate their performance after it is over

High achievers have a chronic tendency to stop shortly after a particular performance to reflect on how well they did or didn’t do. This process will allow them, for one thing, to determine if they reached their pre-determined goal.

Once they make that evaluation, they’ll be able to figure out if they set the goal too high or too low.

This is important, because a goal that is too high will be discouraging but a goal that is too low will not produce exceptional performance nor be very instructive.

Conclusion (answer these two tough questions)

Do not be afraid to stretch yourself. In fact, if you feel a little uncomfortable reaching for a particular goal, then you know it’s a stretch…and that’s good. You are going to grow when you are stretched.

In the end, however, it comes down to two things: what you believe and what you want.

If you don’t want to succeed in real estate, then deliberate practice is going to churn out mediocre performances that burn you out. In that sort of environment your competition is bound to win. You have to love what you are doing to put in the years of hard labor that high achievement demands.

The other part of the equation is what you believe. If you’ve been brainwashed in believing people are born with talent and high achievers are in a class you can never reach because of your genes, then you are doomed to mediocre performance.

So, do you believe that years of hard work can put you at the top of the real estate success world? And do you have the love for real estate that kind of commitment takes?

I hope you do, because my desire is to see you as a real estate agent succeed. I’m there for you if you decide to do it. Let me know how I can help.

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