New Year’s resolutions are well and good, but they come, and inevitably they go too. What is it about this time of year, supposedly a time of refreshment and renewal, that makes us commit to promises to ourselves that may or may not last? The diet, the gym membership (80% of people who join in January stop going by the end of May), drinking less, etc. Yadda, yadda, yadda! If those things are so important, then why didn’t we do them before, and stick to them?
New Year is no more a time of renewal than your actual birthday makes you a year older. A year is 365 days – not one!
So why not choose something different this year? Maybe smiling more frequently, listening more attentively or sending thoughtful thank-you cards, within a spirit of pleasant surprises. But why not take it further? Do something enjoyable, meaningful, and even revolutionary; something that will enrich your conversations, and go some way towards making you a more interesting person; something that will help you reflect on who you are, and who you’d like to become. Discover what might even be missing.
A few days before Christmas I attended a memorial service for an extraordinary 19-year-old girl. India Wilkinson was a bright straight- A’s science student and the MD of the company I mentored for Young Enterprise. She had everything going for her until she was struck down with a brain tumour. Although the memorial service was naturally sad, it was also hugely uplifting, as examples of Indi’s amazing character echoed around the 350 or so congregation. Before the complexities of adulthood had begun to crowd into her young life, Indi, very much aware of the terminal nature of her illness, harnessed her mortality and shared simple wisdoms few of us take the time to consider. She said “Take Risks Together”, “Live in the Now”, “Enjoy It All”, “Always be kind, because you never know what’s inside someone’s head” and “We are all stories in the end – just make it a good one” (quoting Dr.Who). (You can watch Indy’s inspirational 3m video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogk4Y0RLXCk)
We are all on this treadmill called life, which has immense colour, yet so often we only experience it in shades of grey, based on our previous experiences and even our prejudices. For example, there is currently a trend, primarily on social media, to selectively engage only with those views with which we already agree. By disregarding others’ opinions, we can become bigoted, dull, intellectually stagnant and emotionally unresponsive.
So this year, why not resolve to reconsider some of your perspectives? Watch a different news channel; read a different newspaper with views that might challenge your own; follow unexpected social media bloggers; read business books alongside a novel or vice versa. In fact, why not write your own business book or novel! It doesn’t have to be a best seller – just a personal achievement.
How about deciding to travel to somewhere unexpected. A deserted former Soviet prison in Tallinn, a fish wholesaler in Trondheim, a port winery in Porto, a tannery in Marrakech, or an abattoir in Jerusalem (great for prompting conversations about respectful meat-eating). If you are a city person – walk ten miles through a Swedish wilderness and take the risk of getting lost or charged by a moose. If you are a country person, visit a Barcelona art gallery (and do rent the headset so you can learn deeply about what you are seeing). Become an expert in something. Read a biography and gain an understanding of someone else’s life story as well as your own.
Replace 30% of the time you spend watching TV by learning a new skill. Invest in yourself – you’ll feel a tremendous sense of achievement alongside any business successes. You CAN learn a new language – even if you seldom use it. Or learn to play an instrument.
A friend of mine, a motivational speaker called Jim Lawless put his money where his mouth is when, during a conference, he explained his framework for dramatic personal change. One delegate shouted out sarcastically “I bet you can’t become a televised jockey within twelve months”. Jim took up the challenge and disproved the jeers. Within a year he had transformed from an overweight non-riding business consultant to a televised jockey.
Shortly afterwards, and with no previous free-diving experience, Jim used his framework for success to become the first Briton to free-dive to over 100m on one breath.
As you might expect, Jim is more interesting around the dinner table than the average British estate agent! At least he is known for something! For what are you known?
But you don’t have to be quite so ambitious as Jim. Two years ago, for my daughter’s wedding present, I wanted to make something unique for her and her husband. So I taught myself how to cast pure silver and created a silver sculpture formally stamped with my own hallmark, registered at the Edinburgh Assay Office. I don’t know whether I can call myself a silversmith yet, but it’s hugely satisfying, and it’s a skill I intend to develop further this year. And the video and explanations of my various exploding trial-and-error attempts to get it right have certainly amused friends and family.
How about volunteering a day of your time to work at the sharp end of a charity – for the homeless, a hospice or mental health organisation, and encourage each of your colleagues to do the same? You’ll be shocked and brought down to earth, but I promise you’ll reflect on your experiences and you’ll have increasingly rich memories, and possibly an altered outlook on life.
So this New Year, may I humbly suggest you consider what makes you unique, well-rounded and interesting as an individual?
Taking this further, how are you going to relate these things to your business this year? What different perspectives will you harness to add colour and character to your estate agency? Maybe you’ll think about the nature of agency holistically and realise that your primary role is actually to “help people move” rather than simply “sell their house”.
Why not temper any financial challenges by adding creative new revenue streams such as buyer representation, or owner-occupier property management. Maybe you’ll look at things from the consumer’s perspective and entirely ditch any sole agency tie-in period. Perhaps you’ll form much stronger relationships with progressive conveyancers so that the seller is ready to exchange within three days of instruction. Maybe you’ll work out how to help first-time buyers accelerate their deposit savings.
Will you start marketing the wonderful individuals who work in your agency rather than promoting an otherwise faceless brand? (and speaking of faces, are you using video messaging yet?) Will you work out how to create customers for life and get people talking about your agency? Will you gain different perspectives from an external trainer, or rely on passing down the same old stuff that “worked before”, thereby bypassing any new ideas that have not yet come your way?
Some of these things might stretch your existing individual or corporate personality, culture or modus operandi and even seem unreasonable. But in some ways, you have to be unreasonable! As George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” So, in the name of progress, why not do something unreasonable this year? I challenge you to follow some excellent advice I received a few years ago, which has proved invaluable: “Take massive action, and act harder, smarter and faster than you ever thought you would have to.”
Or you could just keep watching TV and join the gym for a month.
It’s your call – Happy New Year!
Written by Richard Rawlings.
Author: Estate Agent Networking UK
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