Continuous effort, not intelligence, separates top agents from the rest

Why it's crucial to be steady in your work every day

My wife likes to write phrases and quotes made by historical figures on a dry-erase board prominently placed in the house; the idea is to motivate the kids every time they see it. She hit on one the other day that I truly loved. It is a Winston Churchill quote, and it said, “Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.”

For those of us in real estate careers, it’s especially important to make continuous effort part of every day. Whether we’re working through price adjustments on a listing or educating a seller on market evolution and cycles — or following up on leads or offers — we must be making continuous effort. There are timetables and deadlines, expiration dates on counteroffers and due diligence to do. I’ve even followed up to make sure the heat in a home was indeed working prior to closing when my buyer had concerns about some of the inspection items.

A few months ago, I worked with a new agent, Neil Azevedo, who served for years in the United States Navy before retiring. I asked him to compare being a real estate agent to Navy life, and he had an interesting perspective. He said that an organization like the Navy provides “exceptional training and mentorship, structured leadership, and complete security and peace of mind for its members to ensure individual success and performance is untethered by outside influencers.” When he shifted to the real estate industry, he noted that its “unclear guidance and hearsay instructions to follow on how to be successful, or just even survive, has been quite a challenge for this old sailor. Starting all over after being in control of so much is surreal.”

That is pretty profound if you think about it. And I bet it’s not what recruiters in the real estate business tell new recruits who just passed their licensing exam!

With so perilous a task in front of us each day, it takes continuous effort to succeed. We must make a continuous effort to educate buyers about the market and property values, and to solicit showing feedback from those agents who just won’t return a call without some prodding. Continuous effort is required when your buyers make an offer on a house they love but then become disillusioned with the seller’s response, and you have to investigate other listings to find a better fit. You must apply continuous effort when helping another buyer work with your most trusted lender to improve a credit score by five points, or when you’re taking weeks to work on a United States Department of Agriculture loan because a listing is not Federal Housing Administration loan-friendly. And you must be able to apply even more continuous effort if another buyer failed to close on that listing the week before due to a low appraisal, which is tied now to that listing for 120 days!

Continuous is going back to your computer one last time to check email after putting your kids to bed and reading a book to your youngest. It’s being able to schedule a showing for 9 a.m. tomorrow morning after a buyer emails you about it at 10 at night, asking to see it right away.

Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, unlocks your potential (according to Churchill). If you are in the real estate industry, you know and live this reality. You experience it in the everyday effort you expend that makes you a high achiever!

And I often find that one of my greatest job-related rewards is that sense of satisfaction when I read another review of my work and see that my client appreciates and recognizes my continuous effort.

Hank Bailey is an associate broker with Re/Max Legends and a Realtor for more than a decade who provides buyer’s agent representation and seller listing services related to residential real estate.