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  • Writer's pictureChristy Murdock

Applying an athlete's mindset to your real estate business

I grew up with a mother who loved sports. Her year revolved around the Braves and the Falcons, and whenever the Olympics were on TV, she'd watch every minute.

My sports bona fides are less stellar. I take a passing interest in my hometown teams, but most of my mother's sports madness has been funneled into a passionate love for Georgia Bulldogs' football.

While I played softball and basketball growing up, I was never a good athlete and never played at a highly competitive level. Yet I respect and admire the skill, consistency, and mental preparation that goes into exceptional athletic achievement.

I recently ran across a website for Peak Performance Sports and downloaded their presentation "10 costly mental game mistakes athletes make before competition" by Patrick J. Cohn Ph.D. I wasn't familiar with the organization or Dr. Cohn, but I was interested in how expertise in athletic training and mindset might be applied to entrepreneurship and the practice of real estate.

You may have seen the recent stat that 49 percent of real estate agents sold either zero or one house last year. The average industry-wide? Two. NAR is seeing a decline in membership for the first time since 2012.

In times like these, you need every competitive advantage you can find. Here's how you can apply Dr. Cohn's pregame preparation insights from athletic coaching to your real estate business.

Mistake No. 1: Focusing on your expectations

While positive thinking, visualization, and manifestation are hallmarks of entrepreneurship, getting locked into a rigid expectation of your performance or the outcome of your activities can set you up for disappointment or, worse, may mean that you're less open to new, unforseen opportunities. You may end up harshly judging "failures" without seeing their upside potential or celebrating "success" and stopping without leveraging it for further achievement.

Mistake No. 2: Failing to cultivate self-confidence

Tying your self-esteem to your performance or to your emotions sets you up for a negative outcome. You need to work on developing self-confidence before game time so that you don't go in doubting yourself due to nerves or judging yourself based on a bad play or two. Know who you are, know your worth, and act from that core of confidence in everything you do.

Mistake No. 3: Getting distracted during the 'game'

If you're meeting with clients, negotiating a contract, or attending a networking event, it's important to keep as focused as possible so that you can optimize every opportunity. If you struggle with wandering attention or if you go in at less than your best — due to a lack of sleep, substance use/abuse, or other issues — it's important to get a handle on these so that you can come in with your best.

Mistake No. 4: Focusing on non-game worries and distractions

Similarly, if there's a lot of drama going on in your life, whether personally, professionally, financially, or otherwise, you're going to have a hard time getting the clarity you need for achievement. It will be important for you to either resolve some of these outside distractions or put them aside when you're working.

Mistake No. 5: Over-thinking your game prior to performance

While you want to be prepared, you don't want to pore over every detail again and again. That can increase your anxiety or lock you into a plan and, ultimately, throw you off track if that plan doesn't come to fruition. Plan ahead without dwelling or churning.

Mistake No. 6: Worrying about the outcome

Obviously, you want to land that listing, sign that client, make that connection, sell that home. There's a difference between that and worrying about what's going to happen, how you're going to pay your bills, what it might mean for your career. Stay focused on the outcome without letting it turn you into a ball of anxiety and develop good coping mechanisms for stress reduction.

Mistake No. 7: Failing to plan

While you don't want to overthink or worry about an outcome, failing to plan for the things that are in your control is a big error in judgment. You can control whether or not you talk to your mentor about a situation. You can control whether you do your homework on that market, neighborhood, or listing. You can control whether you get a good night's sleep or stay out late at a party. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Mistake No. 8: Psyching yourself out

Many of us have negative recordings that play over and over in our heads, and they kick in at the worst possible time. Getting to the finish line and then telling yourself any of the following can undermine your efforts:

  • I always screw things up.

  • I feel so awkward.

  • I can tell they're not interested.

  • I'm going to fail just like last time.

  • I don't know what I'm doing.

Stay positive and when you feel negativity starting to creep in, allow your mind to go blank or shift your focus to something else.

Mistake No. 9: Worrying about everyone else

As a fiduciary, it's important for you to care about your clients and their well-being. The problem comes in when you also worry about the opinions of everyone else: the cooperating agent, your broker, the admin, your competitive colleague, your social media followers. As the old saying goes: Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.

Mistake No. 10: Allowing fear to be your prime motivator

Many people believe that they're best motivated by fear and anxiety. They put things off to the last minute because they "work better under pressure." While you may indeed get things done when your tail's on fire, finding more positive motivations, including your Big Why, can help you achieve more, in a more positive way.

What's the purpose of pre-game preparation?

Getting geared up for a meeting, networking opportunity, consultation, or even just a normal workday requires pre-game prep. That may look different for different people. You may love having lots of alone time to drink tea, do yoga, and meditate before you get ready. You may like the hustle and bustle of your favorite coffee shop or diner for breakfast.

However you choose to start your day, here's why having a pre-game plan is important.

To feel prepared

Take the time to look at your calendar, plan ahead and get organized for the demands of the day ahead.

To feel confident

Talk yourself up, practice visualization, or otherwise psyche yourself up for success. Ever watch a football player get pumped up before a game? Find your own version of that.

To execute on your gameplan

By knowing what lies ahead in your day you can develop a plan that allows you to execute and accomplish your goals.

To cope with adversity

When you're well prepared, you're better able to cope with interruptions, difficulties, or roadblocks when (not if) they occur.

To develop a strategy

When you've taken the time to prepare for your day or for that event, you have time to make decisions ahead so that you're not figuring everything out on the fly.

To take on your role

When a player walks onto the field or the court, their preparation and mindset allow them to stand a little taller and take on the role of a warrior, a gladiator (or even a Bulldog). You play the role of trusted advisor, all-knowing expert, sensitive counselor, and enthusiastic cheerleader. Preparation helps you to do all of that.

Train for your professional life with as much dedication and determination as you'd train for a marathon or a golf tournament. Get your mind right and the results will follow.


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