Real estate can be a nonstop, demanding career. As an agent, you’re always on the go — even if that means pushing through personal pain. Here’s what one broker-owner learned while dealing with her own.

I have an old friend who’s a great storyteller. He has a way of connecting with people on a deeper level. He listens. He’s kind, and he’s caring. I enjoy his leadership. His name is Scott Kiburz. 

Scott Kiburz

The funny thing about Scott is that I’ve known him since kindergarten. Although we now live in Arizona, we both went to kindergarten in Nebraska. Believe it or not, we reconnected 35 years later. It was in 2004 that I picked him out in a crowded room of pre-licensees in real estate school

Scott is the 2020 chair of the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS). Recently, at a strategic planning session for our MLS in Arizona, he told a great story to the leadership team. It really hit home for me — which is why I want to share it with you. 

Scott began, “When I was in high school, I played football, and my dad attended every game — except one. It was over eight hours away in Wyoming, and dad just couldn’t make it to that one. Of course, this is the one where I was injured. I was hurting, and I called my dad.” 

“Dad, I’m hurt,” Scott told him. To which his dad replied, “Son, sometimes you just gotta play hurt.” 

Scott continued, “At that time, I didn’t really understand, but I took dad’s words to heart and went back on the field. I was really playing hurt, and it was the best game I ever played.”

When Scott finished his story, the room was silent. He turned from one person to another and gently coaxed out what each one was dealing with in their personal lives. Cancer. Loss of not just one parent, but two — all during COVID-19. Organ donation. Divorce. Biopsy and so much more.

I sat there quietly. During Labor Day weekend in 2012, my 22-year-old son Phillip died in a car accident. You see, I’ve been playing hurt for eight years. 

As a Realtor, I typically sell between $10 million and $12 million a year in volume. I write. I volunteer. I’m the up-and-coming chair of ARMLS in 2021. I own a real estate brokerage. I offer training. I’m on all the time — and I’ve been doing all of this while being hurt. I realize now, I have been “playing hurt.”

The pain has subsided substantially since the officers walked to my door with the news and yet, it still hurts. The pain is still there, lurking and waiting for an opportunity to rear its ugly head. 

The truth is, real estate is a hard game. There is very little downtime. No health insurance, no paid sick leave and no paid vacation time. There’s no one to cover for you. It’s a rough gig. 

As agents, we work nights, weekends and holidays. We deal with high emotions and large amounts of stress through turbulent transactions and all the while tucking away our own personal woes. We are often “playing hurt.”

If you live long enough, you will lose friends, colleagues and loved ones. You may personally face an illness or have a child or spouse who does. You may be caring for elderly parents. You might, like I did, have to bury a child. You may experience pain, but the game doesn’t stop for anyone.  

The other day, I spoke to an agent about setting up a showing. “You’re the first person I’ve talked to in six weeks,” she said. “Why? What happened?” I asked.  

She paused and then answered, “My husband and I had been isolating due to COVID, and he went out one time to help our son-in-law on a job. Within a few days, he became very sick, and he died of COVID. We were married 34 years.” 

I could hear the sadness in her voice — the tiredness, the defeat. And yet, here she was talking to me about a showing. She was “playing hurt.”

I think Realtors tend to be type-A personalities. They are quick to judge. They’re often urgent, direct and task-driven. “Reactive” is another word I’d use. Sometimes, they’ll take a jab at someone on social media, by text or even over the phone. 

In my last article, I wrote about the seven buyer’s agent behaviors that should stop. One of the behaviors I mentioned was to “stop being a jackass.” A jackass doesn’t listen. They say hurtful things. They don’t try to connect with anyone, and they don’t care.

Connecting with others, and understanding them and their situation can help you sell more homes. And the most important aspect of that is that you get to be a solid human being. So, connect. Be friendly, kind and gentle — because you can

I have a challenge for all you real estate agents. I want you to take the lead of my friend, Scott of Keller Williams Biltmore in Phoenix. Be kind to those who are on the playing field. You never know when someone is injured. You never know when it could be you, and the game doesn’t stop.

You never know when it could be you, and the game doesn’t stop. It’s possible you will have to “play hurt.” Thank you, Scott, for your leadership. Respectfully, your old friend, Michelle.

Michelle Shelton is the broker-owner of Life Real Estate in Phoenix, Arizona. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter

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