Running a business is, in some ways, purely a psychological exercise, when you think about it. 

Obviously, some things will give you a competitive advantage:  

  • A great product
  • Superior service
  • More experience
  • Better strategies
  • Amazing people
  • Proven systems

But despite all those, what really determines your success is all in your head

Sometimes, it’s all about surviving and advancing—especially in an elastic business like real estate, where economic conditions can dictate performance. 

It’s really about you versus you—you 2.0—and how you’re surviving and advancing on a daily basis. 

What better time of year to have this conversation than right on the heels of March Madness? There is a lot to learn from the NCAA College Basketball Tournament. Because you’ve got to survive and advance. 

Sometimes, it’s about getting to the next month or the next quarter, let alone the next 5-10 years. And I’m all about the long game. But to play the long game and accomplish your long-term goals, you have to start with a short-term mindset. 

I’ve got to get through this month. I’ve got to hit my sales goals for the week. I’ve got to bring in X amount of listings or write X amount of contracts, so I can pay my bills this month. 

This is the reality of real estate agents. 

So, keeping all that in mind, I find there are three lessons you can learn from March Madness and the survive-and-advance mentality. 

Lesson #1: Your performance matters

This is a performance business. You either sell the home or you don’t. There is no gray area; it’s a black-and-white business. 

The same goes for the tournament, right? There are 68 teams in the men’s tournament, and 64 in the women’s tournament. And 32 of those teams, based on their regular season play—their performance—will get into the tournament. 

Performance matters in this business. Because results matter. 

Lesson #2: Your reputation matters

After performance, the next thing that determines whether a player goes to the tournament is their reputation. So, think about what that means for you as a real estate agent. 

How many reviews do you have? What do your previous clients say about their experience working with you? Your reputation matters. Who you align yourself with matters. 

Because you’re going to win business by being associated with the right people. 

Lesson #3: Nothing happens without tenacity

There are upsets galore—like when Princeton, the number 15 seed, beat out number 2 seed Arizona in the first round of this year’s tournament.  It’s about tenacious play. It’s about grinding it out. It’s about never giving up. 

In 1993, when Jim Valvano was dying of cancer, he came out on an ESPN awards show and said, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” 

That’s exactly what we all need to be doing right now. It’s literally a life-or-death situation. 

That tenacity, that fight, it matters. When you give up, or you’re okay with being mediocre, or you already assume the loss, you’re dead in the water. 

In today’s climate—and really every climate—these three things matter: 

  1. Performance
  2. Reputation
  3. Tenacity 

That’s your game plan. That’s how you survive and advance. 

And if anyone tells you business is easy or that they’ve got it all figured out, they’re the highly-seeded team that will get beaten by a 15-seed. Because they’ve lost their tenacity. They’ve lost their will to compete, the hunger to win. 

In this shifting market, with the volatility we’re seeing, this survive-and-advance mindset and these three lessons—they carry. 

The people that have this mindset will survive and advance—and they’ll take market share from those who don’t.