With fewer deals to go around, many markets experiencing a downshift and more agents than ever, it makes business sense to reach for the fundamentals. That’s why at Inman, we’re going Back to Basics with curated throwbacks to some of our most-read stories as well as new insights from agents in the field — all culminating in Inman’s Playbook for the Fall Market, a two-day virtual event that you should make plans to attend.
When you set aside the mechanics of real estate (marketing, contracts, CRMs, documentation), you come to the realization that we are, more than anything else, in the business of people – and people are fallible. We make mistakes. We screw up. Sometimes in significant ways and sometimes in small. Most of the time, I’d like to believe we do that unintentionally.
Even so, mistakes just mean we’re human, and that’s all right. It’s how we handle those mistakes and how we take responsibility for them that truly makes the difference in our relationship — both personally and professionally.
I’ve been a real estate coach for more than 30 years, and I have seen and heard and even been party to some doozies of missteps by agents. For the most part, they’ve owned up to them and done everything in their power to set things right, which is always the right thing to do.
Let’s take a quick look at 5 things you can do should you find yourself on the wrong side of an error
1. Understand when a mistake has been made and be proactive rather than reactive
Stephen Covey once said, “The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it.” Proactive is getting to the heart of the issue and discovering how to put corrections in place. Reactive is when you let emotions run rampant, which really just adds fuel to a fire.
2. Own up to your mistake
In the words of James Altucher, “Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.” Most people will totally understand when a mistake happens and be all right with it if you take responsibility and even the criticism that might follow.
The worst thing you can do is try to brush it off or hide what happened. Then the situation goes from a simple (or even not so simple) error to a question of integrity, and in this business, as in most, your integrity is everything. Set egos aside and do whatever you can to find solutions that create clarity and resolution.
3. Take the lesson from it and be coachable and teachable
I love this quote by John Wooden, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Listen, almost everything in life has a corresponding lesson to it. The most successful business professionals in the world wake up each morning inspired to learn, to recognize and appreciate when they aren’t the smartest person in the room and are open to being coached to realize their full potential.
If something goes sideways in a conversation, a contract, a relationship — sit with it. Find the lesson. Then, put steps in place to take that experience and elevate your skills and understanding because of it.
4. Take action
“The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake,” said Meister Eckhart. Not every problem or mistake can be solved, but almost everyone is actionable. Have the courage to not run from a problem, but face it honestly and look for the solutions.
5. Using the consequences as a breakdown = breakthrough moment
Man, I love a good breakdown (most of the time) because there is nothing quite like it to spotlight an opportunity for a breakthrough. Our coaching students often see me sitting in front of a blackboard with Breakdown = Breakthrough written. I believe that philosophy with every fiber of my being.
I loved what Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers, said, “Every breakthrough business idea begins with solving a common problem. The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity.”
We don’t grow when we’re in super-safe comfort zones or have zero chance of making a mistake. Growth occurs out there on the limb and testing our limitations. Sure, that often comes with the inevitable risk of making a mistake – but the breakthroughs are totally worth it.
Make room to recover
Give yourself the grace to make mistakes. I would say especially if you are a newer agent, but I think that message applies to every stage of your career and life. I often coach agents about the learning process in this business by reminding them how they would approach their child or a child they love who is learning and growing.
If they fall down, are you critical, or do you help them figure out that falling is just part of learning to walk, run, and discover? Treat yourself with that same kindness. That same forgiveness.
When you do, you won’t be as fearful of making your next move or growth or even making a new mistake. Remember these words by Elbert Hubbard, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you’ll make one.” Now, go out there and make amazing things happen.
Darryl Davis is a speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate, as well as the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars. He currently hosts weekly free webinars to help agents navigate market change and design careers worth smiling about. Learn more at his website or connect with him on Facebook or YouTube.