As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic, certain realities, values and lessons have come to light. With the world changing the way it has, how do you answer the question, “What’s important now?”

In living and working under COVID-19 terms, you may be asking yourself, “What’s important?” Health concerns and all the extra hours at home have given us time to reflect, contemplate and hopefully noodle that question.

In terms of safety, embracing a mask, carrying sanitizer and keeping that 6-foot distance are all definitely important right now. Many consumers are probably thinking that a single-family detached home might become a necessity. Video equipment, composition and editing just got real important. Online closings have gone from holy grail to wholly how we do it now.

So as we go through periods of change, and hopefully, someday, come out on the other side, what are the valuable lessons that we’ll have learned from all of this? What can agents walk away with? What are the values that rank higher in importance now than before? Here are few angles to consider as you answer these questions for yourself. 

1. Depth vs. breadth

Sales people know a lot of people. Our professional success is closely tied to the breadth and diversity of the networks we build and serve. Friends, followers, thumbs-up, hearts and engagement metrics are the measures of our social media influence.

Most of our online friends are really just contacts in disguise. Within our online communities, we mostly share the good stuff, but not necessarily the real stuff. Sheltering at home reminds us that the people we live with are the ones we need the most. Going deeper with them during the quarantine is a treasure and a challenge.

Now is the time to have long discussions, work through tough questions and simply enjoy being with them. It’s an opportunity to invest deeply with the few we value most.  

2. The value of solitude

We have more time to think, analyze and ponder. In our industry, silence isn’t golden. It’s frightening. Real estate professionals energize by talking — a lot. Around 80 percent of the sales team members I have managed over two decades score very high on extroversion scales. Sheltering at home for these personalities is hard.

After binge-watching our favorite shows during those first couple of weeks, we all felt that extra space. We experienced additional family time and to some degree, solitude. Real estate professionals and our consumers are assessing and discovering components of their lives that have been covered up in busyness for a long time.

Some are learning that what they’ve been chasing really isn’t what they wanted or worth the sacrifice. Clear highways, empty sports fields and vacated offices are giving us an unprecedented opportunity to think. 

3. The treasure of margin

Andy Stanley calls the freedom of unscheduled time and financial reserves “margin.” It’s a scarce commodity in our culture and industry. Brokerages with 3 percent profit levels and agents working the first quarter of the year to pay last year’s taxes are not existing with margin.

Many of us have calendars with no empty space and upcoming commission checks are already allocated for overdue expenses. For many, there has been no income for 30 days and not much on the horizon. Paycheck to paycheck followed by no paycheck at all creates stress and hardship.

If you are disciplined enough to create financial margin in your life, you have the great benefit of knowing upcoming expenses are covered. Pain is a great teacher.

It’s critical to create margin and reserves in our relationships, health and finances. Those with margin now can make the most of our surreal situation. What would life be like now if you had six months’ expenses in reserves? 

4. Mental fortitude

Make decisions and take actions regarding your own disciplines. The result can be mental fortitude, or in other words, the ability to get through tough times. Pivot, plan, reboot, revise — the common denominator is that we take actions that we define rather than responding to what’s happening.

These days are often referred to as “character-building” days. Develop strength from prospecting, acquisition conversations and building for the long term. You will become like the marathon runner completing her 13-mile training session well before most of us even wake up. 

What we do today matters. Your choices today can be long-term investments with big-time payoffs. Make the decision to get off the mat, work your plan and find the positives each day. That’s mental fortitude.

5. The end game

What do you really want from your real estate career? When the market is hot, we tend to focus on keeping all the plates spinning. Now we have margin to invest in thinking about our objectives.

Is being a top producer what you really want from all your efforts? Will you tell your grandchildren about your fantastic GCI growth over the tenure of your ownership?

One of the lessons I carry with me from Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is the idea of beginning with the end in mind. Is real estate your career merry-go-round, or have you taken the time to define your finish line? Now is the time to decide what is important, and like all goals, they are best recorded and shared with mentors and friends who care enough to follow up. 

Kevin Woody is a real estate brokerage consultant and former CEO at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Paracle. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook

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