I'm a long-time fan of RuPaul's drag race. One of the recurring tropes from the series is the so-called "delusional edit," where a performer becomes increasingly upset and unhinged because they haven't yet won a challenge or gotten the attention they believe they deserve. "Delusional drag queen" is the label frequently applied to these contestants.
While delusion can be used as an insult — and can, of course, be an all-too-real sign of illness — a new Gen Z trend says that delusion is a plus and, in some cases, it can be a valuable career hack.
Being "delulu" entails going for jobs you don't necessarily feel you're qualified for, saying yes to projects you don't yet know how to do, and in this case, reportedly taking one woman from homeless to a seven-figure business.
In the case of a real estate business, if we're being honest, delusion is the name of the game. We've all gone up for a listing that we weren't really qualified for, only to find that our rapport with the client made the difference and got us the job.
What some call delulu, entrepreneurs call "faking it 'til you make it," and it's an important component of business success. Here's the dirty little secret that most top producers won't tell you: Most people have a sense that they're not ready or that they don't know everything they need to know in order to move to the next level. You have to have a healthy dose of delusion to keep moving forward professionally.
We're all fighting imposter syndrome
Most of us have mentors and colleagues we look up to, or a reality-show real estate agent who really speaks to us. Sometimes it's a podcaster, TikToker or YouTuber, a blogger, or a business leader we admire.
When we're looking up at others who are more successful, more accomplished, more experienced, and, let's face it, more wealthy than we are, it's easy to mistake their accomplishment and their professional level with a failure on our part. That is to say, instead of seeing it as "They're great" we see it as "I suck."
In reality, however, there's room for more than one expert in your market or niche. Your expertise and experience are valid, and someone who's higher up the food chain doesn't keep that from being true.
How the scarcity mindset works against you
To paraphrase another RuPaul truism, people think there's only so much pie to go around and if you get a piece, there's less for me. But that's an illusion. There's enough pie for everybody.
Scarcity tells us that there's never enough and that we're not enough, either. It makes us petty, envious, and insecure.
By contrast, an abundance mindset — one that sees and believes in a world of endless possibilities — offers you the reassurance that the universe has got your back and that you can go for your dreams with confidence.
Another legendary reality show diva and entrepreneur, Bethenny Frankel from the Real Housewives of New York, talks about "coming from a place of Yes." Showrunner Shonda Rhimes wrote a book about her "year of yes" and how she learned to say yes to herself and to life's opportunities.
Scarcity and limitation keep you small. They tell you these lies about yourself and your circumstances:
You're not good/smart/pretty/young enough.
You're not qualified.
You're too busy.
You don't know enough about that.
You don't have enough education.
You don't have enough experience.
They'll laugh at you.
That's not to say that you want to do things you truly don't know how to do and are unprepared for. However, if you're building your career and experience, you won't get where you want to go without pushing yourself. You won't learn how to handle a luxury listing without going through the process. You won't find out if you're leadership material until you play a leadership role.
How can you go from delulu to confident?
Want to make a big leap in your business, but worried that you're delulu (and not in the good way)? Here's what you need to do:
Find a well-qualified mentor who can help you improve your skills and prepare for the next stage of your career.
Stay informed and educated. Read foundational books about business and real estate. Preview properties in your market. Take classes online and at your local association and join the YP.
Learn to hear and act on feedback, whether from your broker, a respected colleague, or even a frustrated client. If someone is telling you that you need to improve, take that onboard and find a way to get better.
Put yourself out there instead of waiting for the "perfect" moment. You're never going to learn without doing, so film your first video, start your book, ask for the meeting. Once you've started, you'll build skills in the process.
Find help when you need it. You don't have to do everything on your own, especially at first. Reach out to experienced colleagues for advice. Get professional assistance from a real estate attorney or financial advisor. Ask a contractor or interior designer to weigh in on a project. Work with a coach, trainer or consultant.
A healthy dose of delulu is good for you and good for your career. What may feel like total delusion is probably just a little extra confidence and positivity. Do your homework so you can back it up and you'll take your business to new heights.