(This is Part 2 of a three-part series.

(This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Read Part 1 and Part 3.)

Will you successfully navigate the increasingly rapid rate of change in our industry or will your real estate career die a “slow death”?

Last week’s article looked at the signs that your real estate career may be suffering from what Robert Quinn calls “slow death.” NAR numbers indicate that up to 80 percent of the people who enter the real estate business will exit the business within five years. As the real estate market slows across the country, the numbers of people exiting the business may be in the hundreds of thousands.

If you want to prosper while others struggle or exit the business, Robert Quinn’s model in his two books,”Deep Change” and “Building a Bridge as You Walk on It,” provides a road map for coping with a rapidly changing environment. Quinn identifies four critical shifts to make to cope with deep change.

1. Comfort centered to results centered

2. Externally directed to internally directed

3. Self-focused to other focused

4. Internally closed to externally open

The first four positions represent where most people are in our industry — comfort centered, externally directed, self-focused and internally closed. The second grouping, results centered, internally directed, other focused and externally open, are the positions necessary to move into the deep changes necessary to survive our rapidly changing environment.

1. Comfort centered to results centered

When someone is comfort centered, the person clings to the status quo. Examples include the agent who refuses to learn how to operate a computer or a brokerage that continues to pour all of its advertising dollars into print advertising rather than online advertising. In other words, you’re so stuck in a rut that you have carpeted and furnished it. If you think of a rut as the letter “V,” with the bottom of the “V” representing your rut, it’s clear that you lack behavioral flexibility. The further you are down in the rut, the less room you have to maneuver. Getting out of the rut requires a great deal of energy because it means getting outside of your comfort zone. For example, learning how to use a new cell phone, a new software package or a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) program makes you long for the ease of your old system. Failure to make the shift, however, costs you increasingly more time and money as your competitors gain advantage by making the change. The comfort-centered agent or broker expects the world to adapt to their expectations rather than adapting to the shifting environment. The key question for those who are comfort centered is, “How do I get what I want?”

The shift to make is to become results centered. Becoming results centered requires you to shift from the known to the unknown. Needless to say, this shift can be both scary and painful. Anyone who has attempted to learn how to snowboard, for example, has experienced exactly how difficult this can be.

Being able to risk change requires that you have a certain degree of self-confidence and personal support. This makes it easier to make changes and to endure the failures you may encounter. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he successfully created the first light bulb. He was committed to changing how we harness electricity and to using it to improve the quality of our lives.

As an industry, we our now being called upon to make a similar type of deep change. Our clients now demand how we provide services, which may require us to abandon outmoded strategies and to adapt to entirely new ways of doing business. For example, the under-30 crowd prefers text messaging to e-mail or telephone communication. This can be especially difficult for an older person who may have some arthritis in his/her fingers or who finds small cell-phone keys especially difficult to use. Nevertheless, reaching as many potential sellers and buyers as possible will require this skill. Another example is working with clients who are immigrants and minorities. By 2007, 60 percent of our transactions will be with this group. While it can be exceedingly challenging to learn a new language as an older adult, reaching this lucrative source of business may be required if you want your career to survive.

Deciding to do nothing means that you are constantly living in reaction rather than being in the position to choose how you will respond. The demographics tell us that we will have increasingly computer-savvy clients over time and that the majority of these clients may not speak English as their first language. You are in position now to address the change and be in front of it. If you wait, you will probably see gradual erosion in your business and may find yourself struggling to cope.

For people who are “results centered,” the key question is, “What results do I want to create?” If you want a sustainable and profitable business, being focused on the results that you want to create requires you to constantly monitor and adapt to marketplace change.

What about the other elements in Quinn’s model? To learn more, see next week’s article.

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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