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Why are some companies having their best year ever, while others are languishing, or worse, failing? Even in the middle of a Great Recession, you can create your own success story, if you’re willing to make the tough calls. Dare you read on?

Imagine you wake up one day and the market has collapsed. Your business plan for the year is untenable, because something unforeseen has occurred. Some banks have collapsed; others are teetering. Credit becomes tight. The dollar plummets. Unemployment soars. Inflation. Customers pause. And so on. Any plans you had made, for the market conditions you had predicted would last a while, no longer apply. Reaching your goals is seriously jeopardized.

Well, that did happen. But it was nearly five years ago. So, what’s your problem today?

We have long said that you get the success that you believe you deserve. You get paid what you believe you’re worth. You attract the customers you think you’re worthy of attracting. You surround yourself with people you believe should be around you. At the heart of your success is what you believe about your success.

More than anything else, your beliefs (not technology, marketing, money or time) determine how – or whether – you pursue success. You add the other things together to pursue what you believe; but they don’t come first.

That’s why some companies are, plainly put, kicking ass. Sure, there’s a Great Recession going on, with all the uncertainty and difficulty that comes with it. But when is there never uncertainty and difficulty? Blaming your current situation on the recession – or lack of boom – is a cop out. The good times were really not as good as we romanticize them to be. It was just easier to avoid tough decisions when lots of money was coming in.

Revenue makes it easy to look successful without the need for goal clarity.

Some salespeople believe success will happen to them it they wait it out. With hope as a strategy they wait for that perfect lead. If you don’t think this is true, then how do you explain so many who won’t write down a business plan, attend office meetings or buy an iPad? Some industry insiders have estimated that more than 60% of REALTORS haven’t done a deal in the last twelve months. Is that practicing success, or practicing success avoidance?

To accept a situation in which you don’t make sales for months is to accept that you don’t believe you should be making sales. Harsh? Maybe. But so is being poor.

Company owners and managers often suffer similar delusions: Without a belief that they deserve to experience success every day, they avoid addressing obstacles and let things linger. That’s why many companies remain merely good – never rising to great – and eventually fail. Rationalizations are plentiful: If we fire the agent who hasn’t sold anything in a year, she could down the street and make a big sale. Did you see that flying pig? We can’t expect that manager who won’t hold her agents accountable to ever get it. Is that a pink elephant in the corner? Let’s not challenge the top agent’s negative behavior; they’re an independent contractor, you know. Isn’t that Elvis? 

As long as we don’t believe we deserve better, we will take whatever we get, with fingers always crossed.

Here’s a story to illustrate:

I recently met with a client who operates a real estate brokerage in a major East Coast market. When I asked him how he was doing, he whispered, We’re kicking ass!  In a down market, with a fraction of the agents as his competitors, he has risen to the top. I asked him why he was whispering his success. He said he felt funny saying things were great while other brokers were lamenting their troubles. Our conversation went on.

Next he told me about how he recently had to fire an agent he had spent a lot of time recruiting. Apparently the agents was marketing in such a way that it violated the company’s standards and brand values. Even though he had worked hard and invested money to attract an agent with high production numbers, my broker client sent him packing at the first sign of trouble. When I asked how he felt, he said proud. When I asked how the other agents reacted, he said they were completely supportive, even relieved. When I asked him if he saw the connection between his two stories – his success and his willingness to make the tough calls – he paused….

Then a big, broad grin spread across his face and he said, Yeah, I guess that is why we’re kicking ass!

Yes, it is. Whether you’re a broker or an agent, you need a personal belief in your success. You need a plan, to work hard, to find failure unacceptable. And you’ll need to make tough calls – with customers, managers, agents, vendors. Most importantly, with yourself. If you don’t find anything wrong going months without a sale, don’t expect clients to be upset, either, if you don’t earn their business. If you believe your agents should show up for your weekly office meetings, don’t be too surprised when office production reflects that, too.

If you’ve been avoiding the tough calls, perhaps it’s not so unreasonable to see that success has been avoiding you, too.