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An Offer of Thanks and Some Encouragement – Fillin’ Barns

As is likely true for most readers, though hard work, a constant learning curve, and a little luck have combined well for me, it was mentors selflessly adding new possibilities to my menu who made so many positive outcomes even possible. They showed me where the pockets of light were in the dark times — and, more importantly, where the light switches were. How to leverage new skill sets and knowledge into useful and productive results for clients. But most of all, to become a mentor whenever possible. I’ve done this, if only to honor the frequent detours of their valuable time on my behalf.

All of them are gone now.

When thinking of them, which is often and fondly, a feeling of tremendous gratitude and a bit of frustration wash over me. Though I routinely thanked them for their priceless gifts, there’s always that nagging frustration — somehow I could’ve shown more gratitude. The lessons imparted weren’t limited to the nuts ‘n bolts of being a real estate investment broker. One thing they shared was the core belief that regardless of the times, those who kept plowin’ the fields, day in, day out, would always have their barn filled with enough, if not a surplus, come harvest time.

That one nugget of wisdom has kept me talkin’ to the mule, while plowin’ the field far past sundown more times than I can remember. I’ve not once been let down when it came time to bring in the harvest. That surely doesn’t mean there weren’t years when hamburger helper wasn’t a staple. It meant that I was still standing — ready to compete when the excrement stopped hittin’ the whirling blades. I learned as a young man that sometimes winning/success = survival. For many these days that’s surely the reality.

None of us are immune, most of us have been there, done that. But to those who’re experiencing their first go-round in this kinda rodeo, I offer heartfelt encouragement.

Grandma was right when she told you to keep your head down, and keep workin’ hard ‘n smart one day at a time. My grandma had a heart to heart with me late one afternoon towards the end of 1980. I’d just become a father, it was between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and was dramatically lamenting my plight in the recession handicapped real estate world. She would have none of it.

Her words were not burdened with buffers designed to protect my fragile ego from the plain truth.

(Paraphrasing) “You’re a married man with a son now. Feeling sorry for yourself is no longer an option. You know exactly what must be done, day to day, to produce maximum results in your business. Look me in the eye and tell me you’re doing those things day in and day out, and in the order of their importance. You need to always be doing the things that need doing. A farmer has no choice in the matter, and frankly, neither do you.” Her ‘talk’ took about 15 seconds or so. It’s affect on me was profound if not life changing.

Gulp. No choice.

When we’re having those conversations with ourselves, the ones in which we’re questioning whether or not we have what it takes to prevail, one of two thoughts occur. A) We don’t have what it takes, and should change our career choice…OR…B) We know in our hearts we have what it takes, but we’ve been kiddin’ ourselves about doin’ what it takes to accomplish the results for which we’re striving.

If you decide ‘A’ is your reality, God Bless you and good luck. Contrary to some views, real estate ain’t for everyone. However, if ‘B’ hit the target, you probably know what you need to change.

I empathize with you in the most personal sense. Much as the farmer must wonder if fate is out to get him with horrible weather, diseased animals, equipment breakdowns and the like, the real estate agent can easily become morose and defeatist after months, sometimes years of seriously crappy economic conditions. Speakin’ from experience, I know about that, cuz I’ve seen me do it.

What’s gonna get you through these times is winning the battle one day at a time — sometimes one task at a time. Were you’re paintin’ the fence in the south 40 when you knew you shoulda been doin’ the much more productive, but much harder grunt work of repairing and replacing the fence in the north 40?

Warning: Metaphor pileup ahead.

Wanna know the difference over a full season between a .250 hitter and one who bats .300?

One measly hit a week! The average everyday player gets about 20ish official at-bats weekly. One guy gets 4 hits, the other guy gets 5. Simple as that. That extra hit a week means the .300 hitter will make 2-10 times the salary of the .250 hitter.

Here’s the difference though between hittin’ a baseball comin’ at ya 95 mph, and being a successful real estate agent:

Allowing for exceptions that prove the rule, the best batting coach ever simply cannot make a .250 hitter into a .300 hitter. But you can be a more successful agent than you are now, by soberly making a decision to make it so.

Come to work each day knowing you’re gonna take the bull by the horns and do exactly what you know in your heart needs doing — and in the priority it merits. Do that for 90 consecutive days and be delighted in what you’ve wrought. No rationalizing allowed — ever. We all have tasks that are repugnant to us, regardless of how much we may like the business in general. Go ahead, tell me how much you enjoy dealin’ with an appraiser who couldn’t find their ass with a guide, a map, and a GPS. :)

I know you can do it — and more importantly, you know you can. The only things that remains is the doing. Step up to the plate and beg for a 95 mph fastball you can knock outa da park. I know that many say they love their job and don’t consider what they do to be work. OK, fair enough. Call it whatever floats your boat. Just do what needs doing, do it well, and give everything you do it’s proper priority.

The rest will take care of itself. You’re 90 days away from a fuller barn.

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  • 8 comments

    8 Comments so far

    1. Scott Gaertner July 30th, 2010 10:00 am

      Nice. You made your grandma proud and inspired folks at the same time. Well done.

    2. Marc Knight July 30th, 2010 11:23 am

      It’s really great to read this type of post once in a while. I do hope our colleagues out there – those who are new to the business and those who are struggling – read this post to find some encouragement and inspiration. Congratulations to you Jeff and in your heart you know you made your grandma proud, especially that you are now passing on her ’15 second-message’ to others…

    3. Jeff Brown July 30th, 2010 12:46 pm

      Scott & Marc — Very days pass without something she said to me poppin’ up in my mind. You guys take the message to an agent or two. We never know the effect a few well timed words end up having.

    4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Brown, Chris Johnson, Real Estate Feeds, Patriot Connect, Tom Hunter and others. Tom Hunter said: An Offer of Thanks and Some Encouragement – Fillin’ Barns: As is likely true for most readers, though hard work, a… http://bit.ly/aDd28Y [...]

    5. Keith Lutz July 30th, 2010 1:13 pm

      Very true and dear post. Gram would be proud.

      Funny I was just listing to a David Knox CD’s where he interviews Bob Wolfe, and he talks about how he envisions an that extra $50,000 and then relates it back to how he needs to write X amount of Thank you notes, or knock on X amount more doors! Just one more hit, takes you from producer to Top Producer like Bob making 140 million as a sole agent.

      Knock it out of the Ball Park, baby!

    6. Teri Lussier July 30th, 2010 4:47 pm

      What a beautiful post, Jeff.

      To all your mentors and guides, and your own grandma, I can attest to the skill and abundance with which you are paying it forward. Thanks for always takin’ my calls, answering my emails, and freely giving me solid no nonsense advice.

    7. Jeff Brown July 30th, 2010 4:50 pm

      Thanks, Teri. I love talkin’ with you.

    8. Taylor White, PHD August 10th, 2010 4:44 pm

      Mentors have definently played a major role in my life as well.