It’s only Wednesday, and I have already had a shit week.
On Monday, after presenting my $895,000 seller a cream puff $916,000 offer with a no-cost leaseback, they pulled the listing off the market. On Tuesday, our remodeling company was unceremoniously dropped by one of our favorite accounts.
Today is Wednesday, and as of about 15 minutes ago, it’s been exactly a year since we lost the happiest guy in the world, my dad.
In spite of all that, and to some degree because of it, I am still the Happiest Person in Real Estate.
How, though, right? Not by faking it. I’m the last person to engage in ‘Aw, it’s not so bad,’ ‘Other people have it worse,’ and ‘You’ve survived all your worst days so far!’ Just shut up. This week has sucked, and there’s no platitude that’s going to change my mind about that. But I’m also not one to wallow or whine.
You Can’t Avoid Bad Times
I used to carry a dull and constant dread of what horrible misfortune might befall me next. It made me live small and kept me from taking risks. I had the hubris to imagine that if I was quiet, good, and careful enough, I could manage to cruise through life largely unscathed. I stayed relatively ‘safe’ but was also completely bored (and full of dread, let’s not forget). If you’d called me a pessimist, I would have argued with you, but you would have been right.
As I grew up, I began to recognize how much I was in my own way. What made me think I had the power to avoid bad times? And what price was I willing to pay to try?
It really clicked for me when I started following Eric Thomas, who said, “Everyone is either going into a storm, in a storm or coming out of a storm,” and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m not in charge of people pulling their listings, or firing me, or whether they die. I’m only in charge of how I respond to those things when they inevitably happen.
The best analogy I can make is this: Bad times are like horse poop. They stink, they’re unpleasant to look at, and people generally do their best to avoid them. But if you package them right, you can sell them for a profit.
Mother Nature is a great model. If you leave horse poop in a pile, it will steam, stink, and attract flies. It will break down eventually, but in the meantime, you still have to look at it and smell it. On the other hand, if you scoop that poop and work it into your garden, it will nourish the soil and, in a short time, help gorgeous flowers, fruits, and vegetables to grow.
The same thing goes for bad times.
Your Response is What Matters
Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
When my client canceled her listing, it broke my heart. Our team had dedicated the previous three weeks to seller meetings, house repairs, staging, photography, video, soft launch, and hard launch, not to mention thousands of dollars. Our execution was flawless, delivering results beyond my client’s expectations. To stop it all so abruptly was a shock. Honestly, for a couple of hours, I freaked the F out.
But when I really listened to my client and heard about the changes in their lives that caused the decision, I remembered that I don’t do this job for me, I do it for them. I was able to reboot my thinking and empathize with them, and they appreciated it so much. They will still sell the house; when they do, they will use me. And I will knock it out of the park again.
The remodeling client that fired us was not only one of our favorites but the most blunt. I appreciated his frankness and efficiency, but it hurt to hear. He tore us up about everything from disappointing results to our sloppy billing. We had failed. He wasn’t being gratuitously mean, he was telling the truth, making it even harder to hear.
After the meeting, we sat for a few minutes licking our wounds, and then we got right on a call with the rest of our team and did an autopsy. We went through every criticism and figured out where we went wrong, what we could do differently in the future, and immediately started implementing. If we’d never been slammed like that, we’d still be lurching along, making the same mistakes and probably losing other clients. Instead, we literally composted a shit sandwich into a gourmet meal.
As for losing my dad—this is the toughest one. Grief seems to have a longer half-life than disappointment or failure. I’m told it leaves a ‘scar,’ which sounds right. My body has many scars, which hurt like hell when I got them, but I’m ok now. I know my dad wouldn’t want me ‘moping around like a sad sack.’
I know it’s a waste of time and energy trying to avoid adversity altogether. So when disappointment, failure, and grief come my way, I embrace them, understanding that how I respond to God-promised bad times is precisely what makes me the Happiest Person in Real Estate.