Stephen R. Covey’s timeless self-help book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” has plenty of lessons from real estate agents. Here’s how you can use those lessons and apply them to your real estate career. 

This January marks Inman’s fifth annual Agent Appreciation Month, which culminates at Inman Connect New York in a celebration of agents at the end of January. Plus, we’re rolling out the coveted Inman Power Player Awards, as well as the New York Power Brokers and MLS Innovators awards.

This post was last updated Jan. 12, 2024.

Steven R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of those books that sticks around and continues to resonate with readers. It’s also considered to be one of the most celebrated self-help books ever written, and for good reason.

After studying hundreds of successful people, Covey identified the habits that defined them and put together his findings in this ever-celebrated bestseller. Following that manual for success, let’s take a look at the same principles and habits — but from a real agent’s perspective.

Habit No. 1: Be proactive

The adjective proactive is used in reference to someone who gets things done. If you are proactive, you make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen to you. Long-term success in real estate never comes by accident. It comes from developing a plan of action and executing that plan.

How will you proactively work on your business today? How many real estate-related conversations will you have this week? How many listings will you take this month?

Highly effective agents are self-aware enough to know which strategies work best in their businesses, and they take massive action in those areas. Whether you’re gifted in cold-calling, farming, online lead conversion or social media marketing, be proactive with massive action —and your business will grow.

Habit No. 2: Begin with the end in mind

In the book, Covey says that envisioning what you want in the future gives you the ability to work and plan toward it. What is it that you want to achieve in the next 12 months? What do you want your real estate business to look like in five years?

The most effective agents have clearly defined goals for the next one, three and five years. They visualize the end result, but they also put together daily activities that will lead to the achievement of their goals.

Begin with the end in mind, act on the daily activities necessary to achieve your goals, and you’ll achieve success.

Habit No. 3: Put first things first

The most successful agents prioritize their daily activities. They identify the activities that lead to a growing business, and they make sure those activities are their priority.

What are the most important activities in your business? Is it time-blocking each day to prioritize prospecting? Is it working on your sphere of influence? Whatever it is that moves your business forward, focus on those things first.

Habit No. 4: Think win-win

Thinking from a win-win perspective is about building relationships. You should look to find win-win opportunities for your clients, other agents and service providers. Our job is to bridge our client’s needs and to help them move from where they are to where they want to be.

Develop new long-term relationships by finding opportunities for clients to win. By working with other agents and service providers in win-win transactions, you’ll be rewarded with smoother transactions and future opportunities to work together again in the future.

When you think of win-win opportunities with both clients and agents, your business will grow.

Habit No. 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

I don’t believe it’s an accident that we’ve been given two ears and one mouth. The most effective agents I know are some of the best listeners I know.

Ask more questions, and you will find more answers. Instead of going into discussions with an agenda, find the clients’ agenda and help them achieve it. Questions like the following help you to understand what is most important to the client.

  • Is there a date we absolutely have to have the house sold by?
  • Sometimes it is a trade-off, headaches for dollars when selling a home. Would you prefer to sell your home as it sits or possibly do some renovations to maximize your selling price?
  • Is there anything in particular about this process that makes you the most nervous?

Once you understand their motivations, you can then provide them with answers and strategies to help them achieve their goals. Create success by making sure you understand their concerns before providing them solutions is the recipe for success.

Habit No. 6: Synergize your relationships

Synergizing relationships is the process of building a team that can collaboratively achieve results that could not be achieved alone. Identify people who can help you get where you want to go and then  help them get where they want to go.

Whether it be a transaction coordinator, personal assistant, buyer’s agent, or lender you can partner with, identify people who have what you need and who need what you have.

Synergize your goals with other people’s goals, and you’ll build successful business growth.

Habit No. 7: Sharpen your saw

Covey says preserving and enhancing your most valuable asset — aka, you — is where effectiveness grows. He breaks this personal growth into the four areas of physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual. The most effective agents have all of these elements in growth mode.

1. Physical

The benefits of eating healthy, consistently exercising and getting the proper amount of rest cannot be underestimated. If you are going to be your most effective self, these will prove to be especially important.

2. Social/emotional

Connection with others gives us the ability to maintain emotional stability. Surround yourself with people who encourage and inspire you to be the best possible version of yourself.

3. Mental

You can’t earn more if you don’t learn more. Focus on your mental growth by reading, listening to podcasts and watching business development videos. These activities ensure that you are prepared for mental growth.

4. Spiritual

No matter what spiritual growth means to you, at the core of all spirituality is a posture of service to others. The most effective agents I know are always thinking of ways to better serve their clients. When you are focused on service to others, everything else seems to take care of itself.

You’re a few action steps away from building the business you’ve dreamed of. Consistent actions create habits, habits create momentum, and momentum leads to success. Take action today and develop the habits that will lead to the business of your dreams.

Jimmy Burgess is the CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida. Connect with him on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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