In real estate, we often talk about goals in terms of transactions and volume and commission dollars. Most agents get a little one-dimensional and forget that life has other purposes in addition to just work. And the thing about goals is that you have to revisit them to gauge progress; sometimes just completing a goal or crossing that finish line, even if on your own time, means more than a huge success or massive commission.
So December hit — and holy smokes — I actually did it! I hit my goal (one of many) this year of running 100 miles per month. The previous high annual mileage for me was 952 miles. So that’s a strong increase.
I didn’t realize what this would do for me, mentally and physically as well.
Originally, I set this goal because it sounded cool to run 2,015 miles in 2015 (as long as I could do it with a partner, which would make my part a measly 1,007.5). I figured that if I could do a marathon (checked off the life list in 2014), then I could do this.
I look at this pile of medals, and what I see is perhaps not what you see.
The finish line
You might think I won a bunch of races, but nope — I didn’t win even one. I didn’t receive any gender or age group placements, either.
I got finisher medals. They celebrate nothing more than making it over the line.
They remind me of commission checks. They aren’t just your livelihood — they celebrate making it over the line. You might be the top dog in your market or just getting started — either way, we all get paid the same way.
Isn’t that the grand part of life? You have days when you feel like you are on top of it all. Sometimes those days even add up to months or years. Then, you hit bottom.
Through someone else’s shenanigans, the economy, some other external force — or your own mistake. No matter what puts you there, we all find that valley of darkness, and it’s not a great place to be.
But you don’t stay there. That’s the gift of life. No one does. Even those who suffer with the worst clinical depression have moments where the light pierces the darkness.
In running, that is like getting through miles 19 through 22 of a marathon to realize you will make it. It’s getting through the second half of a run after you eat concrete and smash your knee to smithereens.
It’s putting a smile on your face at the closing table when you were dealing with the meanest of the mean people who lied and cussed you out. It’s getting back on the phone to make another appointment after you lose a sale that you were sure was in the bag.
It’s picking yourself back up after a mistake, apologizing and acknowledging what you said and praying that you’ll be granted a ray of light masquerading as forgiveness.
So what do I see with these medals, you ask?
I see a personal record (PR) in three distances this year. I achieved a personal record in the 5k, 10k and half marathon distances. If you’re not a runner, you might not get what that means.
What that means is that I beat myself. I bettered myself. The personal competition might not sound like much to you, but it’s huge.
What do I see in real estate? I see a bunch of clients who crossed the finish line. Clients who probably dreaded dealing with real estate but entrusted me and my team with the task of making it happen. (I hate that awards in real estate are based on commissions earned, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Neither achievement happens easily. Neither happens overnight. They only happen when you pound the pavement enough to train your body to be stronger, when you pound the phones and mailboxes enough to encourage consumers to trust you.
Yes, it hurts to get there. There is no public celebration, there is no podium, there is no name over the loudspeaker. It’s just you versus you. A moment that is probably only captured in your app, Garmin or bank account. And it’s fleeting.
You don’t celebrate these achievements for more than a day; the next morning comes, and you’re back at square one.
You might ask how I do this running thing. How do I find the time in a busy life, in a busy world? Easy. I make the time.
I get up earlier than the rest of the world to get it done. There are mornings when I don’t want to get up, but I get up anyway. Read Darren Hardy’s book, “The Compound Effect,” if you want an extra voice in your head to get you up when you’d rather hit the snooze button.
How do you get to the top in real estate? I hate to tell you — there is no silver bullet. You make the time for the education, networking, previewing and the phone calls. Your competitors will give all the excuses why they can’t — trust me, I’ve heard it all.
My space, my time
You might ask me why I do this. If I’m not going to be on a race podium and if it’s going to make my body hurt more days than not, then why?
It’s because this is my space to talk to myself, to get myself out of the dark valley, to listen to voices of wisdom through some of the amazing podcasts available out there.
It’s my space to listen to trashy music that my kids aren’t allowed to listen to yet, and no one can take away that time or space from me — no one.
Not the haters, not the hateful anonymous people who live to tear others down, not the pseudo-friends who vanish when you turn out not to be quite so perfect — no one gets the best part of me. No one gets that space.
Do you know what else no one gets? They don’t get the pleasure of holding me down in the darkness. I might screw up, I might make mistakes, but I’ll learn from them. I’ll work harder, I’ll be stronger, and I’ll get better.
Why? Because in my personal journey, I know that others are riding with me. I might be their light in the darkness when they feel alone. I might be their laugh when the world seems so damn serious. I might give them the push to get better themselves.
It’s a big job. I accept being under your microscope because this is where God has me placed today. I’ll keep posting my runs, in hopes that you too will dig deeper and put those shoes on, even if it’s just to walk a few extra steps.
I’ll keep posting my happy places in life with honesty and humility — knowing that you might need the brightness. I’ll keep making my videos as I do my darnedest to make real estate better for consumers and for professionals alike. I’ll keep selling houses and challenging myself and my team to find a way to make it better.
And this year, I’m going to do something better. Perhaps one thing, perhaps several things. Want to join me? Lace ’em up.
Leigh Brown is a full-time residential Realtor, speaker, coach and smartass. She works in the Charlotte, North Carolina, market with Re/Max Executive Realty and can be reached @leighbrown on all networks.