Failure is Contagious. So is Success.

Posted by: Russell Shaw on January 14th, 2009

“Buy this book.” ”This is the Ultimate Sales System.”  ”You can’t help but succeed when you follow our proven system.”  Blah blah blah.

“What do you attribute your success to?”

“Oh, I’ve always been unique.”

Let’s say that the person actually was unique, that he or she was correctly answering the question.  If that was true would there be any reason whatsoever to even bother listening to anything regarding techniques or methods they had to say about success?  If it couldn’t be replicated what difference would it make? 

Or if you wanted to learn to swim at a championship level would hearing Michael Phelps say, “The secret of winning each of those races was I swam faster than the other swimmers”?  Would hearing that help you to swim faster?  Oddly enough, it just might.

I’ve been in the house selling business for 31 years.  My first twelve years I was an ordinary 17 – 22 deal a year guy: living from one closing to the next, never really having a stable business.  I clearly understood that there was “something” that the stably successful mega agents had that I didn’t but I didn’t know what “it” was.  From my point of view, what I’m going to tell you next is nothing short of fantastic: they didn’t either! 

As remarkable as that sounds, it is a correct and true statement.  There were a few notable exceptions but — for the most part — what I got in response to, “You’re a highly successful agent, what makes you so successful?” was nothing short of nonsense (not the really fun kind of nonsense, either).

At first it seemed like most of the people I spoke to were trying to keep all their good stuff a big secret.  The more direct my questions, the more silly or irrelevant their answers seemed.  Sometimes they would explain that they sent out five ‘thank you notes’ a day and that this was the reason for their success.  A few others told me it was their closing techniques, how they used the alternate choice technique or the assumptive close. 

One even showed me his new Palm Pilot, explaining how he stayed organized with it and that was why he was so successful.  He had been successful in real estate for six years and had owned the Palm Pilot for about four weeks.  There he sat, a truly successful agent -– who wasn’t trying to trick me -– he was just focused on his personal latest thing and he didn’t really have a clue regarding any meaningful wisdom that could be passed along.

You can see a slightly different version of this when the answer is along the lines of: “We achieve our success because we mail out red postcards to our farm area each month”; or blue postcards, or yellow potholders.  That isn’t why they are successful, even though it may be accurately describing what they are doing.  It can’t be “The Reason” because if you look you can find someone who sends out the yellow potholders who isn’t very successful.  So there must be some other reason.

What is it?

From where I now sit, my answer is it is a viewpoint.  Successful people look at things differently than failures do.  They literally see things differently.  I believe this business is at least 90% mental: that the thoughts and ideas one has regarding leads, listings, software, customers, escrows, appointments, prospecting, marketing, money, other agents, lenders, title companies (the list goes on and on) determine how well or how poorly they are going to do in handling each of those items. 

People who are doing well tend to think of their circumstances as something they have created. 

People who are not doing very well tend to view their circumstances as something that “happened to them” -– not very much was under their control.  There are people you come into contact with that make you feel “smaller”, less willing to reach for your goals.  Have enough contact with them and your goals aren’t even real anymore.  There are others that being around give you a lift up. 

When in association with them it is easier to see yourself arriving where you want to go.  Just a thought — you might want to consider actively avoiding those that bring you down and making it a point to connect even more to those that bring you up.  You can catch success or you can catch failure.  Both are highly contagious, especially when you are already inclined that direction. 

Good news: one can decide to change their direction. It is a decision.

Let’s look at failure vs. success in the residential real estate business.  If we strip away all of the “complexity” of our business and get down to just one thing, one skill, that makes the difference between success and endless struggling what would that one thing be?  What one thing done well will practically guarantee success?  Done poorly or not done enough or at all, predicts failure?  Lead generation. 

Effective lead generation alone -– more than any other factor, perhaps more than all other factors combined –- predicts success.  Listening to or agreeing with anyone who explains how the real reason is “the market”, “the economy” or any other “it isn’t up to me” type thinking is the road to ruin.  It is up to you and if you’ve read this far I’m thinking you agree. 

Learning to effectively and massively lead generate isn’t sitting around hoping for a bright future, it is causatively creating one.



4 Comments on “Failure is Contagious. So is Success.”

Brian Brady

That last sentence says it all.

Rick a Phoenix Realtor

Nice post Russell. I completely agree with ‘lead generation”. Coming in a very close second is the agents attitude. Some agents might be getting all the leads they can handle, but if they are burnt out or not following up, those leads can quickly get away from them.

Having cash reserves for marketing and an admin team to distribute the workload also helps one to keep a good attitude.

Agents that have been hit especially hard financially are more prone to fall to the way side. Don’t you think?

Wayne Long

Wow! You are exactly right. There are a lot of “ways” to be successful in Real Estate but the first thing an agent has to figure out is how he will generate leads.

If you have no leads – you are dead in the water.

Louis Cammarosano

Thanks Russell, it seems as if reasons or excuses for lack of success out number reasonns for success.

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