Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative


Good brokers tend to have good habits. But good habits are tough to come by. Habits play such a central role in our behavior that a Duke University study found that 40 percent of an individual’s actions are habits and not decisions. In other words, 40 percent of things we do involve no thinking like putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, looking at Caller ID or speaking to a property owner.

Now imagine if you could break several of your bad habits and replace those with positive ones. Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

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Understanding how to build new habits and committing to them is essential to professional growth. Habits are the brain’s way of saving bandwidth, effort and time. In other words, habits are intellectual shortcuts that allow for better performance—but only if they are the right behaviors. Habits such as good time management, strong phone responses, advance preparation, practice, and good, thorough research are traits I stress with our brokers at Eastern. I understand that habits are what differentiate the good from the mediocre and the great from the good. So if you want to be great, read on.

Here is my strategy for enabling new habits to stick.

1. Commit to change. Absent commitment, the inertial force or hardwired pattern of your behavior will not allow you to change.

2. Define a simple, new habit. It is really difficult to break a habit, so do it incrementally. Let’s say your new habit is to arrive at the office by 8 a.m. as opposed to 9. Instead of starting the next day at 8, each week you commit to arriving five or 10 minutes earlier. This is very doable and over a period of two or three months you will be getting in at 8 without any overwhelming stress. In contrast, if you decided to arrive at 8 immediately the change would be so great there is a good chance you would not be able to follow through.

3. Small gains add up. Einstein called compounding “the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.” He’s right.  A 1 percent weekly improvement in performance can lead to an almost 68 percent (67.98 percent actually) improvement in performance over a year. Keep reading if you think you can get 1 percent better!

4. Remind yourself regularly of the new habits.   Every time I commit to creating a new habit I write it down on a piece of paper and review the paper regularly. This is good for a lot of habits and I strongly suggest doing it as a way of staying focused on the new habit you want to create.  Therefore, state the habit positively, such as “arrive in the office by 8:15.” In addition, set up positive cues, such as an alarm clock, to remind you of your new habit. Also, if you want to change how you respond to a statement on the phone, paste it up in front of you. Constant reminders facilitate focused change.

5. Commit to 30 days of creating a new habit. It takes between three to four weeks to condition the mind to make a habit stick. Stay consistent. You cannot take a day off from your new habit because your mind will not be conditioned appropriately.

Habits are hardwired into our brains but these tips can help you change yours!

Mark Schnurman, Chief Sales Officer at Eastern Consolidated, is a veteran sales manager and coach with diverse sales management, training, recruiting, strategy and coaching experience in real estate and financial services.