9 ways to manage personal change


The Greek philosopher Aristotle influenced much of Western thought in the area of coping with personal change. Aristotle defined personal development as a category of practical wisdom, where the practice of virtues leads to happiness, human flourishing and living well. Aristotle continues to influence the Western concepts of personal change and development to this day, particularly in the notion of positive thinking.

Although Norman Vincent Peale is the modern age arbiter in this area, understanding change and the need for change in personal growth existed well before his well-known tome on the subject. It is clearly a human condition that takes hold as we age and mature.

The human body is constantly in a state of change as well. I have read that each cell in the body is replaced every seven years. So, each of us have become changed beings physically within each decade of life.

It’s clear that change is not always easy. It can be stressful and frightening. I now have a better understanding of the look in the eyes of agents who sit across from me, sharing their worries about the future after surrendering their 9 to 5 jobs.

After almost three decades of helping others build their careers and fulfill their aspirations in the real estate industry, I find myself on the precipice of applying those same theories and models directly into my personal career. Deciding to give up the comforts of a regular schedule and compensation as a managing broker has been a slow process over the last nine years, starting from the sale of my brokerage, RealTV Realty and my subsequent move out west to the Greater Vancouver market. This change in location and career direction is part of a myriad of personal changes that I have gone through. It has all culminated in the decision to jump into the trenches as an active agent after years of sitting behind a desk.

All of this personal and professional change has led to time reflecting on life and business and studying change, its effects, and ways to best navigate through it all. There is an entire field of study that looks into the organization, structural, business and personal aspects of change. In Australia, for example, one can even earn a university degree in the field of change management. On the personal change level, one needs only to go into the local Chapters outlet and walk the aisles of books on self-improvement and awareness to realize the scope of impact this field of study has made on the general public. I am certainly not alone in attempting to manage personal and professional change in a meaningful way.

In an attempt to give myself some therapeutic self-talk, here are the talking points I so often shared with others looking toward stepping into the career of an independent contracted Realtor.

1) Maintain a positive outlook

Like most things, this is easier said than done. The old cliché about counting your blessings does help with this. Living in Canada in this time in history gives all of us a lot to be positive about. It is still possible to create personal wealth in Canada…and particularly in the real estate industry.

2) Focus

Laser sharp clear vision is important to excel as a real estate agent. The truly great ones know their market and they don’t allow distractions from the tasks at hand. This industry has many different niches…pick one and become the expert in your area.

3) Flexibility

Adapt to changes. When I started in this business, I was given a tape measure, a Polaroid camera and a catalogue of listings data. Today the business exists in a world of SEO, CRM, algorithms and geolocators. The ability to learn new ways to work in an evolving environment is critical to long-term success. Apart from the technology we now use, changes in laws, such as privacy and agency, have had a huge impact on the way the industry conducts itself.

4) Be organized with a structured approach

There is a lot of push and pull on an agent’s time. The only way that one can maintain control is to have a plan and a rigid calendar. Without control, the risk of burn out is great. Many have left the business due to total exhaustive surrender.

5) Be proactive

Steven Covey listed this as his first habit of a highly effective person. Realtors must learn to act in the face of the unknown and create results. The great ones are true “rain makers”. To sit and wait for the smartphone to buzz is to hammer nails into the coffin of a career.

6) Release the past and focus on the future

We can’t drive a career forward by looking in the rear-view mirror. Change is all about moving forward because this industry continues to reinvent itself every day. Always look for ways to improve and don’t rely on past success. As the saying goes, “No man steps into the same stream twice”.

7) Make a difference / have an influence

Whenever possible, look to help others. Building human capital will pay dividends in many untold ways. Above and beyond anything else, real estate is a people business. The successful agents I have worked with over the years all had the ability to connect with their clients and build a trust relationship.

8) Improve self-awareness/knowledge

Become a self-leader. Don’t look to others to motivate and inspire. Take time to read and learn in your weekly calendar. Self improvement is one of those “not urgent, but important” areas of one’s schedule. Avoid the temptation to allow less important areas of the week crowd out the time needed to develop your knowledge and your soul.

9) Create an action plan

Create an action plan based on personal development in the context of relationship and self improvement. This will help with focus and time management. Don’t wing it.

Over the years as a managing broker and owner, I have had the great blessing of working with some of the best agents in the business. As I move into that role myself, I have some great examples and experiences to draw from. There is comfort in knowing that a new career can be built even later into life, as I have seen it done successfully so many times. It is time to set aside those natural fears and look forward to applying my own advice.

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