There’s always something to howl about

A Little Tough Love: We Don’t Get Paid For Tryin’ — We Get Paid For Doin’

Before beginning, and to head off the ‘you’re so mean’ crowd at the pass, I’m talking here of those things in our careers for which we, more or less, hold the reigns. We never totally control everything when it comes to our scorecard (read: results), but we can reasonably agree most (80/20?) of what we wish to accomplish is under our control to a greater or lesser extent.

There was a short period when I was a trier. I empathize with those who say they tried hard in this business. I don’t feel sorry for them, but I empathize. I realize it sounds hard-hearted, but for Heaven’s sake, they don’t even believe themselves. They were the ones not doing what they knew what had to be done to produce results, right? My money says they were there at the precise moments they weren’t doing them.

In other words, around here‘The dog ate my homework’ will fall on deaf ears.

I made a comment on Russell Shaw’s most recent post. I’ve always loved the way Russell pokes good hearted fun at old sayings. In this case it was, ‘work hard, play hard’. I’m with him in saying, whatever that means. I prefer to work hard and play however it pleases me. Isn’t that at least part of the reason I’m working hard in the first place? Duh. Sorry, I digress.

Anyway, he pointed out the difference between ‘having to’ and ‘wanting to’. As usual with Russell, he nailed it. Russell inspires me with his uncanny ability to do surgery painlessly, yet without anesthesia. His post is what brought to mind the whole Try vs Do thing with which we all have struggled at one time or another.

Here’s my comment verbatim.

I truly don’t mean to be harsh here, as there is some real suffering out there amongst the RE community. Still, there are two classes of agents.

Those who DO, and those who Try.

Do you ‘try’ to prospect daily, or do you ‘prospect daily?’

Labeling this line of thinking as ‘positive thinking’ replaces doing with trying.

Those for whom results are the only measuring stick, don’t ‘try’ to do anything — they’re too busy getting things actually done.

As a young agent I was constantly told, “Don’t make excuses Brown, make good.”

I wasn’t allowed to try.

For those out there who’ve survived, even by the narrowest of margins, to commit the daily act of real estate once again, I posit the following.

Trying and failing is still failing. We’re not paid for trying, and certainly not for failing. Those for whom the appearance of intense effort provides salve for your conscience? Thinking is only productive when it’s followed by doing — some would say action. It’s amazing what fantasies we create as we plot to guarantee our own failure, all the while ensuring it appears we did everything possible to succeed. We humans are unreal at times, aren’t we?

Do yourself a favor and stop putting out what comes from the south end of a northbound bull. This isn’t the ‘everyone’s a winner’ pretend world of kids’ sports leagues, where showing up ‘merits’ yet another trophy, or blue ribbon. This is real life. There are winners and losers. Successes and failures. Large financial rewards and ‘I gotta get a real job’ reality.

This is the world where trying is never rewarded in terms your banker, or your clients understand.

Since Nixon’s first year in office I’ve watched those, including myself at times, perfect the skill of appearing to be working in the real estate business. Russell speaks about demanding what we want to accomplish instead of thinking in terms of wanting.

We can put it in so many ways.

From where I’m sitting it comes down to two principles.

1. You’re gonna become what you think about most. Hat tip to Solomon, but quoted in various versions by everyone everywhere. And for the record? It matters not who quotes or paraphrases it. A principle is a principle regardless of who applies it. Whether it’s Forrest Gump who says gravity will makes us fall down instead of up, or Einstein himself — down is still the direction we’ll be falling.

2. There are those who try, and those who do. The way to tell the difference is listening for the excuses, dressed up as explanations made by the triers.

When was the last time you tried to eat lunch, fill your car with gas, or hug your kids? Ah, I sense lights going on.

We don’t try to succeed in our real estate careers, we decide to. We decided to get married. Or did you just try to get married? Really? Yet there are those who will look us right in the eye, serious as a heart attack, obviously thinking we’re stoopid, while telling us they’ve been trying really, really hard to earn their way in real estate.

I feel for these folks, ‘cuz just as Russell so expertly put it, they wanted to do what it took, but didn’t have to. I’ll take it a step further, and say, as we all know in that special part of our hearts that never lies to us — they knew every single time they wanted to do what would produce the desired results, but chose some other course.

They preferred the appearance of trying to the act of doing.

How are they not mortally embarrassed by this script, reminiscent of a lousy sit-com? Do they realize their listeners are embarrassed for them? I look back when it was me lobbing up lame excuses, and am red-faced to the point of glowing in the dark just thinking about it. Though it was in another lifetime, I still remember how important it was to convince my audience of my heroic, yet fruitless efforts to succeed. By the time I was finished spinning my tales of woe, Homer was ashamed he’d ever called himself a poet.

Again, I don’t mean to be harsh. But sell that crappola to someone who is buying. And you know who the #1 person in your life who isn’t buying?

I mean, besides your spouse?

That pesky person in the mirror.

Turn the page. Beginning today, stop trying and start doing. It’s an incredible lifestyle. Once you’ve done it a few times in a row, you’ll never go back. It’s addictive. Before you know it, you’ll be going from success to success. When it seems difficult, ask yourself how difficult it was to eat lunch yesterday.

Pretty soon you’ll be eatin’ everyone’s lunch.

Related posts:
  • Which home is the right one for you? Coldwell Banker says it’s the property for which Coldwell Banker will get paid double.
  • The Case For Paid Reviews
  • Those Entering the Arena Daily Know the Secret To Skinnin’ Cats – And It Ain’t About Tryin’ Really Really Hard


    23 Comments so far

    1. Christopher Myers May 28th, 2008 5:37 am

      This is exactly why some of us are having our best year ever, while others are serving coffee at Starbucks. The more that choose simply try…the more business that will be left for the rest of us as those who shouldn’t be in the business get out. Yes, it does sound harsh, but it’s reality. Not everyone is cut out for this business. Yea, they’re the one’s who don’t take property photos…don’t return calls…don’t know anything about marketing or sales…and they don’t strive to grow and adapt.

    2. Paula Henry May 28th, 2008 6:19 am

      Jeff – It is a tough reality. One of the Momilies my children always remember is, “Can’t never did anything”. Was it harsh? Maybe – but even today, they remember and know, It’s not that they (anyone) can’t, it’s more likely they won’t or don’t want it bad enough.

    3. Patrick May 28th, 2008 6:37 am

      Great post Jeff.

      Never trying, always doing.

    4. Karen Rice May 28th, 2008 7:57 am

      Didn’t Yoda yell at Luke Skywalker when he said he’d “try?”
      “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

    5. Mark McGlothlin May 28th, 2008 8:20 am

      Masterfully done Jeff. You really do become what you think about. Git ‘er done – redneck speak for “do”.

    6. Sean Purcell May 28th, 2008 9:40 am


      Another one right between the eyes. Why are you tormenting me with a mirror? :)

      What a great post. Perfectly timed and dead on. I guess a few years in the business does create a bit of wisdom to go with all that success. Russell Shaw has nothing on you in the surgery department.

      Linked below is one of my all-time favorite quotes (Sean Connery no less) regarding your exact point.

      WARNING: contains a very unpleasant word and an even more unpleasant reality.

    7. Jeff Brown May 28th, 2008 10:21 am

      Christopher — They don’t ‘do’ a lot of things. :)

    8. Jeff Brown May 28th, 2008 10:32 am

      Paula — One of the Momilies my children always remember is, “Can’t never did anything”.

      First, ‘Momilies’ is gonna be the next new word. :)

      One of my mentors once told me those who ‘try’ real estate often end up in industries for which doing is the more likely option. His example was back then was being a Good Humor driver.

      He used that example ‘cuz he knew it got under my skin. I’d once been a driver for that company, and he used to whistle the truck’s well known melody all the time. I miss him.

    9. Real Estate Blog Girl May 28th, 2008 11:41 am

      Oh, Jeff, you mean? never. I am a big believer in honesty and hard work. Sometimes being blunt is all you have and it can help- the people that take offense to it- were never going to be helped anyway.

    10. Jeff Brown May 28th, 2008 12:19 pm

      Karen & Mark — There are a bunch of ways to say it. Bottom line — trying doesn’t cut it.

    11. Jeff Brown May 28th, 2008 12:21 pm

      Patrick — seems to me you’re always doing something. I’m not sure I remember you trying to do anything. :)

    12. Jeff Brown May 28th, 2008 12:24 pm

      Sean — That deserves a reward. Coffee/cookie at the satellite office this afternoon?

    13. Jeff Brown May 28th, 2008 12:27 pm

      Mary — You’re so right. I learned blunt from Grandma, who taught me I’d much prefer her blunt advice than paying the far more painful consequences of never having heard and heeded that advice.

      Mincing words wasn’t one of her character traits. :)

    14. Sean Purcell May 28th, 2008 12:51 pm


      I learned everything I needed to know about winners and losers in that line from Sean Connery… and everything I needed to know about commenting from you. The satellite office it is.

    15. Jeff Brown May 28th, 2008 1:18 pm

      Sean Connery as mentor — only on BHB. :)

    16. Eileen Pettengill May 28th, 2008 2:36 pm

      Ouch!! I’m thinking I might be too busy “doing” to call you tomorrow…

    17. Joseph Bridges May 28th, 2008 3:07 pm

      The truth often hurts. Many want the “magic pill” that does everything for them or the tool that they can pay $50 a month for and it will solve everything for them when all they have to do is work! The agents who are having the best year of their careers are doing what they have always done, work, without complaining and are moving forward. The truth hurts but it is what we need to hear.

    18. Bill Lublin May 28th, 2008 6:58 pm

      I was running down the comments framing the witty response to your post when Karen Rice stole my athunder by quoting Yoda first –
      When I ask people that work with me to do something, and they say they try, I am quick to point out to them that trying instead of doing is to set yourself up for failure by accepting that any outcome other then success is acceptable – That’s why lots o fpeople you and I started in the business with aren’t here anymore – during the tough times, the were trying and we were doing – Great Post.

    19. Kevin Wilhelm May 28th, 2008 8:25 pm

      PURE GOLD!
      Thank You Jeff!

    20. Jeff Brown May 28th, 2008 10:08 pm

      Eileen — Not a chance.

      Joseph — The magic pill is in our heads, and it’s a double edged sword.

      Bill — Karen was pretty quick with Yoda, wasn’t she? Triers generally have one goal, as you said, to set up failure, but with an excuse.

      Kevin — You’re welcome — and you owe me a call this weekend dude. :)

    21. Mark Eckenrode May 29th, 2008 7:30 am

      i learned a while ago that there’s a difference between “interested” and “committed.” when it comes to standing in the heat, most people are simply interested and willing to walk away. those that are committed will take the pressure, break through, and be a richer person (in all ways) as a result

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