The renowned 20th-century inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller once said, “Environment is stronger than will.”

If you have ever set a goal and then experienced the people around you undermining your progress towards that goal, you know how difficult it can be to overcome an unsupportive environment.

Have you ever noticed that when you start to raise your standards, the people around you will often resist or even sabotage the progress you are making?

At that point, you have an important decision to make. Do you allow them to pull you back into your old way of doing things or do you leave them behind to seek those who will support the new person you are becoming?

Mirror, mirror go away!

The late Thomas Leonard, one of the founders of business coaching, was adamant about this point. When you start losing weight, regularly prospecting or making any other change in which the people in your peer group are not engaging, they will actively try to pull you back to their level.

The reason? You are holding up the mirror that shows them what they are not doing, and they don’t like what they see.

Leonard also argued that relationships are sustainable only when you are a step ahead, exactly even or a step behind each other. If the gap is too great, the relationship will deteriorate. When someone upgrades what they’re doing and the other party does not, the result is often divorce, a career change or some other major alteration in the relationship.

Detractors promote their agenda, not yours

Over the last week, my husband, Byron Van Arsdale, has bumped into this phenomenon in some unlikely places. He received a Fitbit (which monitors the number of steps you take each day) for Christmas. He set a simple goal to take 10,000 steps per day. Given that he had slacked off on regular exercise for a fair amount of time, this was a major shift for him.

Since Christmas, he has walked over 350 miles and has started dropping weight. When he went to play golf with his friends, they immediately began telling him, “You need to do more. You need to focus on tracking calories.”

When he saw his internist for a prescription renewal, she didn’t even acknowledge him for how much he was walking. Her remark was, “You need to get the weight off.” Weight is her issue. She has been trying to drop 50 pounds and not having a lot of success with it.

Identify the one activity that will move you forward every day

Byron set a simple business goal of doing five speaking gigs per week. His entire business focus has been on prospecting and setting appointments. Each day he identifies the three steps he needs to take that day to achieve that goal and he works until those steps have been taken.

The results of these two activities have been nothing short of amazing. He’s on fire, he’s attracting high-quality leads, and so much of what he has struggled with is simply falling by the wayside.

“The biggest thing I learned was that when you focus down, you get results. People don’t like it when you focus. If I exercise, what I eat, how I sleep and how I feel is impacted. I’m happy. I didn’t gain the weight overnight and I don’t anticipate taking it off overnight. My focus in on walking — weight loss is the byproduct.”

Two steps you can take to set your business on fire

The first step in this process is to identify the one business and the one personal activity that you can complete daily that will serve as the impetus for everything else you need to do to happen. In real estate, that one activity is lead generation. Prospect at least two hours per day, five days a week. Set a goal of scheduling at least one buyer or listing appointment every day.

The second step is to strengthen your “no” muscle. This is important because many of the people you care about will try to pull you off focus. To do this, tell your friends and family that if they ask you to do something, your answer will be “no.”

The next week, if your clients ask you to give up time with your family, to be available at all hours of the day, or if they want to list their property at an unrealistic price or look at property without first being preapproved, tell them “no.”

Creating a supportive environment is at the heart of real estate sales success. Rid yourself of anyone who doesn’t support you to achieve your goals, or at least minimize your exposure to these people. While this process can be challenging, when you see the results you will agree that it was well worth it.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at

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