For nothing is fixed forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed: the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
- James Baldwin-
This is the month of love. February brings kisses, hugs, chocolates and roses to lovers everywhere. The smiles and laughter are no artificial facade. It is a human condition...a need to love and be loved. Research into love and happiness in recent years challenge our most basic cultural, political and economic assumptions, and are transforming the field of psychology itself. The areas of Positive Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Neuropsychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Marriage and Family Counselling, are being impacted by the surprising results into what makes us happy in life.
Harvard University had the unique opportunity to study a group of it’s male students over their lifetimes. The study known as the “Grant Study” after it’s initial funding donor, studied a group of 268 young men beginning in the 1940s and followed their development. The study continues to this date. It is a remarkable piece of research into what factors create and maintain success and more importantly, happiness in a person’s life.
Surprisingly, the study discovered that wealth , health, material possessions, stature in society or vocation , were not key factors in a person’s long term happiness. The one element that created happiness in life was a good relationship with a partner… in other words, LOVE.
The impact of love in a person’s life was discovered to be very significant. Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old. Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers—but not with their fathers—were associated with effectiveness at work.
On the other hand, warm childhood relations with fathers correlated with lower rates of adult anxiety, greater enjoyment of vacations, and increased “life satisfaction” at age 75—whereas the warmth of childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on life satisfaction at 75.
The researcher’s key takeaway, in his own words: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points … to a straightforward five-word conclusion:
‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ ”
This February take the opportunity to build relationships with those around you. The research and the science confirm how important it is for all of us.
Typically, home sellers tend to shy away from winter because they are afraid they won't find buyers, but there are some serious buyers out there, some would say they are very serious to be house shopping in the cold and damp. Winter is still a very viable time of year for real estate, in general. Sales happen every day, regardless of holidays, weekends, or season. As a matter of fact, inventory levels are low at this time of year, so there is less competition on the market. Couple that with serious buyers and you have an excellent selling scenario. The serious “have-to-buy” customers are out there this time of year. Don't forget, people need to move for many reasons: babies, deaths, job changes (good and bad, money related, location related) so every day is a good day to list your home for sale.
With less competition on the market, sellers may actually find themselves getting top dollar for their properties. Sometimes the market can be very brisk and the competition is sleeping, so this is the time to be on the leading edge of the market.
When you are listing your home during the winter months, keep in mind that the exterior is still very important to prospective buyers, so you need to make the house and yard accessible, well lit, safe, and try to add a little touch of warmth through various ornaments and seasonal plants and greenery.
On the Inside make it comfy, warm at all times, and add some tasteful but seasonal décor elements, like winter throws and accent pillows, blooming winter plants and lots of lamps set on timers to go on early, before dusk.
Also wash your furnace, they will definitely be looking at it! It's also a great idea to display photos of your home in the spring and summer. Show buyers what your yard and garden look like in the summer when it is at its best… it will help them see the full potential of your home.
This cooler less active time of year offers the best opportunity to be the trend setter in the market. With less competition and the really serious buyers on the prowl, the elements can all work together to get you the selling price that will warm your heart.
For a quick and free online market evaluation of your property click here.
During the Christmas and New Year holiday season it often feels like the world has slowed down to take a collective breath. It's an odd sensation, allbeit a welcome one, because in reality nothing has truly changed its pace. In fact, one might argue that the pressure of the expections that Christmas and New Year celebrations bring with them actually increases the pace of activities.
What the holiday season really does is a magical thing...it helps us to focus on something other than our day to day existance. Even though there may be a frenzy of work and fuss, it is a time that causes us to reflect on life, love, faith, and hope for the future. There is a different mindset generally amongst those we come in contact with...people seem more patient and forgiving. Generosity is more evident and there are more welcoming smiles on the streets.
While it may only be an illusion that the world has slowed down for the end of the calendar year...sometimes illusions are the distraction from reality that gives us a needed gift...a moment to reflect on the good in life.
Best of the season to you all!
In the past, conventional wisdom said you shouldn’t try to sell a home during the holidays.
However, the old thinking doesn’t really apply any longer — thanks to the Internet and hectic lifestyles.
The inventory — and the competition — is usually lighter during the holidays. This gives those that are active on the market a clear advantage during the holiday season.
Despite our always-on access to property listings today, we end up seeing the inventory for good homes tighten up this time of year. However, buyers are still out there looking at real estate and no doubt wishing there were more properties available. Those that are in a "must buy" situation will generally be prepared to pay top dollar for a home that will accommodate a quick completion over the holiday season
Traditionally, we don’t see much inventory coming on the market in January. It’s cold or wet in most places, and many sellers prefer to wait until the spring, a more conventional time to sell. As a result, we don’t see much inventory in January. And yet, each January our phone rings with new buyers wanting to get into the market. Work cycles tend to follow the calendar, so there are buyers in the market wanting to make a fresh start at the beginning of the year.
There can be an increase in demand at a time when inventory is traditionally low — resulting in less competition from other sellers. If you’re motivated to sell your home, you’ll have an even more “captive” audience in January.
Interested in knowing what your home is worth? Check out our quick online home evaluation tool on our website. Go to ariandlaura.com, visit our homepage and click on the green button...it’s that easy!
Sometimes the right questions are their own answers. These questions have no right or wrong...but they are meant to make one think
- How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
- Which is worse, failing or never trying?
- If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
- When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
- What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
- If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
- Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
- If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
- To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
- Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
- You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?
- If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
- Would you break the law to save a loved one?
- Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
- What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
- How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
- What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What is holding you back?
- Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
- If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
- Do you push the elevator button more than once? Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
- Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
- Why are you, you?
- Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
- Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
- What are you most grateful for?
- Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
- Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
- Has your greatest fear ever come true?
- Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?
- What is your happiest childhood memory? What makes it so special?
- At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
- If not now, then when?
- If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
- Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
- Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
- Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
- If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
- Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
- Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
- When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
- If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
- Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
- What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
- When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
- If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
- What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
- When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
- What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
- In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?
- Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
It seems as though the wind blew the fall weather in over night. The people I meet on the street walking there dogs in the morning are all wearing their fall jackets. I notice the leaves on the trees have begun turning colours and dropping to the sidewalks and lawns. This is usually the time of year when buyers begin their search in earnest to try and find that perfect property before the bite of winter truly hits the Canadian air.
This fall season is an election year. For some reason activity seems to slump in the market during an election year. It might be the distraction of all of the election news, or it might be the presence of the lawn signs for the candidates. But for whatever reason, things tend to slow a bit as we approach a major election. Up to this point, the year has been very active. Continued low interest rates and high demand on scarce inventory have created a Seller's market. Along with these types of market conditions comes an increase in housing prices, particulary in detached homes in quiet neighbourhoods. The Fraser Valley market has experienced some significant gains in key neighbourhoods. We have some clients who have realized upwards of 100K increase in their housing investment in the course of this past year. Real Estate has continued to prove itself as a major tool in wealth gain in British Columbia. For those who are who are interested, we supply a full market report on a monthly basis upon request. If you would like to follow what the market is doing, just click here and we will add you to our client list to receive our Fraser Valley market report.
This election seems to have the wind of change blowing through it, reflecting the weather conditions, it seems. Whatever the outcome of the voting, Laura and I are confident that our local housing market will continue as a strong investment. We all need the shelter of a roof over our heads, and the warm of four walls around us as we head into the inevitable change into the Canadian winter.
Keep warm...and don't forget to Vote on October 19th.
Working in the Real Estate Industry is all about working for the best interests of property owners. The role of a REALTOR is to serve the client ahead of one's own personal interests...advising and recommending purchases and sales as they serve the goals and needs of the clients. Basically that means that a good REALTOR is deeply involved in the community and neighbourhood dynamics of the area they serve. Part of that involvement is helping where a need has arisen outside of the purely economic pursuits of the work.
Laura June and I have involved ourselves in a number of initiatives to aid the community in which we live. Of course it's just not possible to help out every worthy cause, so we have selected two that speak to our hearts. The first one is the Children's Miracle Network. We give back a portion of our commissions to the local children's hospitals via the "Miracle Home" program. This program has been responsible for purchasing equipment and services to aid sick kids.
I am personally involved in a charity musical group called, "RE/MAX Rockin All Stars". This musical project is comprised of RE/MAX REALTORS who perform dances and concerts with the proceeds being donaled to the Children's Miracle Network. For example, this November 14th the band will be putting on a fundraiser for the CMN in New Westminster, with the proceeds being donated directly to CMN.
The other cause that we are involved with is Breast Cancer research. Our assistant, Carrie, is a breast cancer survivor, so the initiative is close to our hearts. This September 25th we are sponsoring a fundraising event in sync with the Run for the Cure event.
Laura June and I feel that giving back in this way is an important part of being part of the community, both as business people and as citizens of this amazing area of Canada.
Well, there's thirteen hundred and fifty-two
Guitar pickers in Nashville
And they can pick more notes
Than the number of ants
On a Tennessee ant hill
Yeah, there's thirteen hundred and fifty-two
Guitar cases in Nashville
And anyone that unpacks his guitar
Can play twice as better than I will
- The Lovin Spoonful – “Nashville Cats”
I first picked up the guitar in the mid-sixties. It was the era of the British Invasion, a time when the guitar was king. I wasn’t interested in learning how to play the clarinet, or the accordion like many of my friends were being forced into by their parents…it was the guitar that caught my imagination and stimulated my musical heart. The thousands of musical wanna-bees across North America all began nursing their fingertips in step with the growing popularity of the six string box. Ed Sullivan and the other variety shows blazed the trail for the guitar with their invites to the various young rock n roll bands. The sounds and images of the guitar found its way into the living rooms of America. We all watched with hunger, as the guitar players weaved their magic with new musical styles. Clearly the love of guitar followed the advent of artists like Elvis and the Beatles on the old black and white television.
It was only a decade previous that the guitar began to grow in prominence in popular culture. Les Paul and Mary Ford helped set the pace with their innovative records in the early to mid-fifties. Les Paul is of course credited with helping invent the solid body electric guitar. He also helped to create the modern recording sounds we hear today, like echo effects and multi-tracked recordings.
The guitar has been very good to me over these years. When I reflect back, I recall the relationships and opportunities given to me that connect directly back to those steel strings. Working as a session player and back up musician in the past, I have had the opportunity to work with some well known artists, as well as meet many of my generations leading musical personalities. Over the years my guitar has been heard on hundreds of records, radio jingles, TV and Film soundtracks. I share this all to reflect on what 45 years of playing guitar has taught me as I relate to the world of Real Estate. Here are some of the points that the old guitar has left with me…
Stay in tune – A lot has been written about the “frequencies” of positive thought, and how focusing on the vibrations of energy can result in the secret of success. Whether that is true or not is subject to debate, but one thing that I am sure of is that in order to make a positive connection with people, you need to make sure that you are in tune with them. Just as a guitar that is out of tune will not resonate with a listener, if you are not in tune with your Seller or Buyer, it will feel uncomfortable for both you and the Client. Take some time to tweak your understanding of their background, current situation, and future goals. When you are in tune with your clients, you will be able to perform better and feel more satisfied with the results. Everything needs to vibrate in harmony to have a successful relationship.
Practice – There are no shortcuts to competence in any field. This applies to guitar as well as real estate. I spent endless hours playing scales, and working on songs that I wanted to understand musically. When I did a gig with pop star, Bobby Vinton, I learned all of his songs before we had our first rehearsal. Later, he expressed amazement that I knew all of his tunes inside and out without the aid of sheet music. In Real Estate, rehearsing dialogues to answer common objections, working on your listing or buyer presentations all pay off with the air of confidence that you will have when you meet your prospective clients. First impressions can’t be erased, so making sure that you are ready and capable is of the utmost importance. Use your phone or a mirror to practice. Write mock contracts so that you will be able to deal with issues without hesitation. The old adage, “Practice makes perfect”, holds true in Real Estate as much as in music.
Have the right tools – The first guitar I was given as a young musician was a Simpson Sears “Silvertone” from the catalogue. It was a pretty thing, made of plywood but it was almost unplayable. When I got my hands on a decent guitar some years later, I found myself improving very quickly as a guitarist and musician. The difference was in the tool that I had in my hands. That first guitar only took me so far…I needed a proper instrument to move into the next phase of musical growth. Later in life, I found that having the right amplifier, or effect pedal, helped make the difference in whether I got the gig or not. It is the same in Real Estate. In order to move upward in your career, the proper tools will make all the difference. Having a good smart phone, tablet, or using a solid data management system will make life and your career function so much better. Don’t be afraid to try new technology, the winning horse might only win by a hair…and that whisker might be the tool you have that your competition doesn’t.
Find the harmony even in discord – The interesting thing about music is that seemingly discordant notes can be blended together to create a really beautiful sound if the surrounding environment of harmony is attended to. For example, a minor second interval will sound unpleasant to the ear, but only until a third note is introduced. In Real Estate there might be a conflict between the Seller and Buyer….and often is…but as a REALTOR, adding that third part to the equation will make the difference. Sometimes the discord only needs the right context to smooth out the apparent conflict. Look for solutions, ways to blend the opposing interests of two different parties. Even the most outrageous discord can find a sweetener if you are creative enough to look for it.
Passion will carry you through the trials – When I was first learning to play the guitar, my fingers would get sore to the point of blisters. Anyone who has tried to learn the guitar will testify to the pain that will result from trying to press down on the strings in order to make a sound. I was able to work through the blisters until they became calloused because of the driving passion I had to learn how to play the instrument. Once my fingertips hardened it became easier to finger those cheese slicer grade strings. It was only the passion to learn how to play that made it possible to get to the point, past the pain and frustration, into making music. In Real Estate, we find ourselves at points where the going gets tough…we may be out of listings, or we can’t find buyers…or it may be the frustration of clients that are indecisive. Whatever the frustration, it is the passion for what we do that will carry us through these tough times. REALTORS need to use their passion for the work in order to deal with the inevitable tough moments. It gets easier when you have your heart in your work.
Find your personal style – In the world of guitar music there are a lot of directions that one can take. There is the classical discipline, popular music, world, or flamenco music. You can decide to play with a pick or with your fingers…or even both. Some have chosen to follow the style of the Delta Blues, using a slide on the finger, then there is the decision on going electric vs acoustic…Bob Dylan made big waves with that decision at the Newport Folk Festival in the sixties. The bottom line is that focusing on the style of music that speaks to your heart will give you the best results. In Real Estate, the options are many. One can specialize in a given type of home, specific neighbourhood, residential, new construction, or the various options in commercial Real Estate. Focus on a specialty that speaks to your passion and you will reach your best potential in the business. Don’t be a jack of all trades, because that will make you a master of none. Seek your heart and follow it in this business. The beauty of Real Estate is that you can find so many different options to build your career with that it is limitless for your options. The key is to find your personal style. What works for you and what you love to do will make all the difference in your career.
The guitar has given me many gifts and taught me a lot about relationships, life and business. It has introduced me to people and given me credibility through my playing. I can honestly say that picking up the instrument in my early teens shaped me as a person and has impacted on my professional life like nothing else. I like the fact that apart from the guitars obvious pleasure as a musical instrument, it can also teach object lessons in life and business. Over the years, I have been amazed at the number of people I have encountered who love and play the guitar. This includes many high profile business personalities. The love of guitar is shared by a beautiful community of people who have used the lessons the instrument has given them to excel in life and business. I follow that path and I will keep playing the guitar until my hands can have no more.
An Internet series called TED talks is a fascinating diversion these days. The series consist of experts in various fields sharing leading edge ideas and discoveries. The other evening I was scrolling through the latest of the TED talks and came across Russell Foster speaking on the subject of sleep. Foster is a circadian neuroscientist who studies the sleep cycles of the human brain.
While listening to Foster’s lecture, it occurred to me that having a successful career can be greatly aided by paying attention to one’s sleep habits and improving on them. This may seem contrary to the image of a hard-working agent who never rests, but research suggests that spending quality sleep time is actually time well spent.
Sleep is the single most important physiological activity of the human brain. A person living to the age of 90 will have spent 32 years asleep. Interestingly enough, the brain does not shut down during sleep, quite the contrary. There are some areas of the brain that are more active during sleep. Some genes are only turned on during memory consolidation periods of sleep.
However, sleep is complicated. Researchers have theories on what sleep is, but they don’t really know why we sleep.
The need for sleep is not restricted to humans. Other mammals and birds share with humans the two broad types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (non-REM). However, the sleep process seems to have a greater impact on human brain activity in the areas of memory consolidation and the creative areas of the brain. An adult reaches the REM stage of sleep every 90 minutes, but the function of REM is uncertain. What is certain is that without proper REM sleep, the ability to learn and retain information is clearly impaired, according to scientific research into the subject.
Our society is sleep deprived. We live in an aura of artificial light that affects natural sleep cycles. As a result we keep strange hours. We suffer from jet lag, shift work, late-night computer addictions and various other factors that limit the time resting. Margaret Thatcher famously said, “Sleep is for wimps”. According to Foster and other neuroscientists, Thatcher couldn’t be more wrong.
So, what happens when we don’t get our eight hours of proper sleep? Lack of sleep has a real nasty downside. For starters, things like mood change, stress, anger, impulsive actions, chemical dependence, lack of concentration, poor memory and lack of creativity will result from sleep deprivation. Heart problems, obesity and even mental health problems such as bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia have been linked to lack of sleep. For a professional, any one of these side-effects of the lack of sleep can really impair the ability to fulfill the job description.
On the other side of the coin, getting proper sleep will give you many of the attributes for a successful career. Sleep increases concentration, attention, decision making, creativity, social skills, maintaining a healthy weight and overall cardiovascular health. A study conducted in 2007 by researchers Turner, Drummond and Brown showed that working memory was clearly reduced by 38 per cent when one was sleep deprived. Another University of California psychiatry study of more than one million adults found that people who live the longest reported a regular sleep habit of seven to eight hours. Having good regular sleeping habits pays big dividends in health and effectiveness.
Some cultures have the accepted practice of taking an afternoon nap after lunch. Despite stereotypes and social bias, this is not a sign of laziness. Studies have demonstrated that taking a short “power nap” actually helps in overall wellness. The “siesta” has been associated with a 37-per-cent reduction in heart disease.
The idea of the “power nap” is not new. Salvador Dali, the famous surrealist painter, would often sleep in a chair while holding a spoon. When he went into the sleep phase, his hand would loosen and the spoon would fall. The noise would awaken him, and he felt refreshed and ready to work again.
Recent studies have proven that short naps during the day can be as good for some types of memory tasks as a solid night of sleep. NASA has conducted numerous studies and research into the effects of sleep patterns as part of its interest in the effects of space travel. The research has confirmed the importance of naps for memory, alertness, response time and other cognitive skills.
This is a far better outcome than a sleep deprived individual having his brain shut down into the phenomenon known as micro-sleep. Many industrial accidents and traffic tragedies have been caused by micro-sleep. We have all experienced the uncontrollable experience of micro-sleep during a boring lecture, an overly long sermon or an early-morning sales meeting. It’s that feeling when your eyes begin to close and your head slowly begins to drop despite your best efforts to engage your attention.
So, how do we create the atmosphere conducive to healthy sleep? Foster suggests reducing exposure to light a good half an hour before sleep. Have a dark room with a slightly cool temperature and don’t drink coffee after 3 pm.
Perhaps brokerages should provide a quiet dark room for those who need a power nap in the mid-afternoon and remove the stigma of short rest periods during office hours. It might provide as much benefit as an in-house gym, or café-style office area. That being said, having a power nap during a quiet open house is not recommended practice!
The conclusion in all of this is; if you want to be your absolute best in business and achieve greater success through capitalizing on your full potential, remember that quality sleep is a scientifically proven, valuable and important tool in achieving your goals. The plus side of developing and maintaining good sleep habits far out-weigh the negative results of sleep deprivation, regardless of what our current social mores may be.
Writer and journalist Tim Butcher once wrote, “Sleep is God. Go worship.”
If nothing else, Realtors® are skilled problem solvers. The one trait that glues together all of the successful agents across Canada, is the ability to work through the myriad of roadblocks that confront what seems like a simple task, that of bringing buyers and sellers together on a transaction within a given time frame.
Keeping a real estate deal together, and navigating through the increasingly complex minefield of laws, and restrictions that surround the real estate industry is not a task that can be accomplished effectively without logical and creative problem solving skills, along with a strong emotional foundation.
I commented to one of our seasoned agents on how unflappable he seemed in the face of the activity that surrounds him. His response was a shrug of the shoulder and the comment, "If there is an obstacle, you just have to work around it, that's all." That sums up nicely one of the key skill sets to an effective long term real estate career.
It is so very true that although you can't control the circumstances around you, you can control their impact on you. There is nothing more valuable than clear headed thinking in the time of crisis. The ability to not throw up your hands in surrender, or run away when the bullets are flying around you can come only with experience, training, and mental attitude. The storybook and film maker image of the steady handed protagonist that guides the frightened hoards through a crisis is not entirely fictitious. The hero of the real estate deal is a real life agent who doesn’t allow emotional pressure to impact on their rational and logistical task of serving their client’s best interests through to the completion of the transaction.
Problem solving is a mental process. Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as a higher-order cognitive process. It is a process that has been studied by psychologists over the last hundred years, as well as by computer programmers trying to perfect the latest artificial intelligence algorhythms. In fact the key to internet giant googles success is in the top secret A.I. code that they have perfected to solve the problem of searching the internet for information that is not tainted by spammer tricks. Make no mistake, problem solving is an intelligence marker of the highest order.
Early experimental work centered on simple tasks so that researchers could analyze and capture real-world problems by understanding the cognitive processes involved. In clinical psychology, researchers have focused on the role of emotions in problem solving. D'Zurilla, Goldfried and Nezu published findings in the early seventies and eighties demonstrating that poor emotional control can disrupt focus on a target task and impede problem solving.
Human problem solving consists of two related processes: problem orientation, (the motivational/attitudinal/affective approach to problematic situations) and problem-solving skills,( the actual cognitive-behavioral steps, which, if successfully implemented, lead to effective problem resolution). Researchers in neuropsychology have found that frontal lobe injuries will cause deficiencies in emotional control and reasoning. Those findings have concluded that one’s emotional state can impact on the ability to solve problems.
Researchers have also learned that the problem solving process differs across domains and levels of expertise and emotional wellness. There can be no universal answer to why one can resolve problems under a crisis management mode more efficiently than another. It is clear however, that experience in problem solving in a given discipline helps to calm the emotional impact of confronting problems.
Difficult problems have some typical characteristics such as; lack of clarity of the situation, multiple objectives, decisions hierarchy, communication breakdown, and dynamic unpredictability. In all of these characteristics the resolution of difficult problems requires a direct attack on each that is encountered.
Even more than the emotional steadiness and expertise that a skilled problem solver must have is the creative mental process of creating a solution to a problem. Creative problem solving is a special form of problem solving in which the solution is independently created rather than learned with assistance.
Creative problem solving always involves using the creative side of the brain. To qualify as creative problem solving the solution must either have value, clearly solve the stated problem, or be appreciated by someone for whom the situation improves. These are all traits that apply readily to the real estate trade. The situation prior to the solution might not even be recognized as a problem. Alternate labels for hidden problems include words like a “challenge, an opportunity, or room for improvement”.
A good REALTOR® knows from experience that one must be aware of the unintended consequences in any action or inaction. Sometimes a small detail can impact on many elements of a successful transaction with a ripple effect. This is pre-emptive problem solving that can only be done through experience or training.
The value of a real estate professional is much deeper than the average consumer sees on the surface of a problem free transaction. It could be stated that a good agent is a problem cognoscente in the best sense of the word.
The Greek philosopher, Aristotle influenced much of Western thought in the area of coping with personal change. Aristotle defined personal development as a category of practical wisdom, where the practice of virtues leads to happiness, human flourishing, and living well. Aristotle continues to influence the Western concepts of personal change and development to this day, particularly in the notion of positive thinking. Although Norman Vincent Peale is the modern age arbiter in this area, understanding change and the need for change in personal growth existed well before his well known tome on the subject. It is clearly a human condition that takes hold as we age and mature.
The human body is constantly in a state of change as well. I have read that each cell in the body is replaced every 7 years. So, each of us have become changed beings physically within each decade of life.
One thing that is clear is that change is not always easy. It can be stressful and frightening. I now have a better understanding of the look in the eyes of agents who have sat across from me sharing their worries about the future after surrendering their 9 to 5 jobs.
After almost three decades of helping others build their careers and fulfill their aspirations in the real estate industry, I find myself on the precipice of applying those same theories and models directly into my personal career. Deciding to give up the comforts of a regular schedule, and compensation, as a Managing Broker, has been a slow process over the last nine years, starting from the sale of my Brokerage, RealTV Realty and my subsequent move out west to the Greater Vancouver market. This change in location and career direction is part of a myriad of personal changes that I have gone through. It has all culminated in the decision to jump into the trenches as an active agent after years of sitting behind a desk.
All of this personal and professional change has led to time reflecting on life and business and studying change, its effects, and ways to best navigate through it all. Interestingly enough, there is an entire field of study that looks into the organization, structural, business, and personal aspects of change. In Australia, for example, one can even earn a university degree in the field of change management. On the personal change level, one needs only walk into the local Chapters outlet and walk the aisles of books on self-improvement and awareness to realize the scope of impact this field of study has made on the general public. I am certainly not alone in attempting to manage personal and professional change in a meaningful way.
In an attempt to give myself some therapeutic self-talk, here are the talking points I so often shared with others looking toward stepping into the career of an independent contracted REALTOR®
1). Maintain a Positive Outlook: Like most things, this is easier said than done. The old cliché about counting your blessings does help with this. Living in Canada in this time in history gives all of us a lot to be positive about. It is still possible to create personal wealth in Canada…and particularly in the Real Estate industry.
2). Focus: laser sharp clear vision is important to excel as a real estate agent. The truly great ones know their market, and they don’t allow distractions from the tasks at hand. This industry has many different niches…pick one and become the expert in your area.
3). Flexibility: adapt to changes. When I started in this business, I was given a tape measure, a Polaroid camera and a catalogue of listings data. Today the business exists in a world of SEO, CRM, algorithms, and geolocators. The ability to learn new ways to work in an evolving environment is critical to long term success. Apart from the technology we now use, changes in laws, such as privacy and agency have had a huge impact on the way the industry conducts itself.
4). Be Organized with a structured approach: There is a lot of push and pull on an agent’s time. The only way that one can maintain control is to have a plan and a rigid calendar. Without control, the risk of burn out is great. Many have left the business due to total exhaustive surrender.
5). Be pro-active: Steven Covey listed this as his first habit of a highly effective person. REALTORS® must learn to act in the face of the unknown and create results. The great ones are true “rain makers”. To sit and wait for the smart phone to buzz is to hammer nails into the coffin of a career.
6). Release the past and focus on the future: We can’t drive a career forward by looking in the rear view mirror. Change is all about moving forward because this industry continues to reinvent itself every day. Always look for ways to improve, and don’t rely on past success. As the saying goes, “No man steps into the same stream twice”.
7). Make a difference / have an influence: Whenever possible look to help others. Building human capital will pay dividends in many untold ways. Above and beyond anything else, real estate is a people business. The successful agents I have worked with over the years all had the ability to connect with their clients and build a trust relationship.
8). Improve self-awareness/knowledge: Become a self-leader. Don’t look to others to motivate and inspire, take time to read and learn in your weekly calendar. Self improvement is one of those “not urgent, but important” areas of one’s schedule. Avoid the temptation to allow less important areas of the week crowd out the time needed to develop your knowledge and your soul.
9). Create an action plan based on personal development in the context of relationship and self improvement. This will help with focus and time management, don’t wing it.
Over the years as a managing broker and owner, I have had the great blessing of working with some of the best agents in the Real Estate business. As I move into that role myself, I have some great examples and experiences to draw from. There is comfort in knowing that a new career can be built even later into life, as I have seen it done successfully so many times. It is time to set aside those natural fears and look forward to applying my own advice.