Is holding onto tradition holding you back? COO Stephen Meadows outlines some of the worst ways people get stuck in the past to rethink those outdated attitudes.

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I consider myself to be “old school” when it comes to the real estate industry. My first brokerage had MLS books and carbon transfer paper for contracts, and we still took film to be developed for property marketing.

I’m two decades into this business and have seen a lot of changes. I wanted to set the stage here because I am not one to chase shiny objects. I am largely a traditionalist who thinks that there were some pretty good things about the past and the way we conducted business.

However, that mindset won’t always serve you well. There are times when you have to set tradition aside and forge a new path. Holding too tightly to the past can actually become a major problem in some brokerages. Here are some instances when holding onto tradition can hold you back.

‘That’s not how we do business’

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that one. This statement ranks near the top of my list of worst things someone can say to me. The No. 1 spot belongs to, “That’s not my job.”

When someone remarks about how that’s not the way something is done, it’s usually because they have a closed-minded approach to life. They either tried it once and it didn’t work or never bothered to deviate from the norm.

In my experience, there is almost always a better way to do something. The process can be refined, the language can be clarified more, or there is simply a faster and simpler path. Make sure you work with people interested in hearing solutions to problems or suggestions for improvements. You will get a lot further in this business if you stay closer to the leading edge.

‘I’ve been in business for …’

Yes, in the intro, I mentioned how long I’ve been in the business, but only for context. I don’t use my experience to inflate my sense of self-importance unless someone else is doing the same to me. Then it’s fair game.

The people I’m talking about are the ones who constantly need to remind you how long they have been doing this so that you don’t question their infinite wisdom. I value experience. There is more to be learned on the streets than from a book. However, longevity doesn’t always equate to value.

I know plenty of agents with 30-plus years of experience who would be easily outmaneuvered by a rookie agent in negotiations. Resting on your laurels and thinking you’ve seen it all will keep you from maximizing your potential. There is always something new to learn.

‘That’s just a fad’

Technology comes and goes. Pagers, fax machines, Palm Pilots, BlackBerries, and any of the thousands of other now-obsolete tech gadgets out there were once cutting edge. Even then, some agents looked at them as a fad. In some cases, they were. Not every piece of technology is going to revolutionize the world and have staying power.

However, completely digging your heels in and not being open to new trends and ideas can quickly land you in the same pile with discarded and obsolete items. You don’t have to be an early adopter, but you can accept that a better tool could be right around the corner.

Again, there is nothing wrong with respecting traditional ways to accomplish tasks. There are times when tried-and-true is just that. There are just as many times when a new idea or new way of looking at a problem can yield more favorable results.

Most would agree that we are sailing into uncharted territory in this market. No one knows what things will look like in two, three or five years. This industry is changing. The ones who survive will be the ones who accept a better way and let go of the past when it no longer suits them.

Stephen Meadows is a 20+ year industry veteran and is the chief operating officer with Coldwell Banker Premier. Connect with him on Facebook and Instagram.

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