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Op/Ed

Comparison is the thief of joy in every aspect of life, even real estate

(EDITORIAL) We often find ourselves comparing ourselves and our businesses to others no matter how hard we try not to. But the thing is, everyone is comparing to eachother.

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How are you feeling

Imagine you’re sitting in that nice, long chaise so common to a therapist’s office. (In the movies, anyway.) “How are you feeling?”, asks the therapist, in this case played by myself. “About yourself? About your business?” Unless you answer “Great!”, then my follow-up question is this:

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“Does the way you feel have anything to do with comparing yourself to a more successful individual? Or a more successful business?”

Comparison is the thief of joy

Really think about it and you may find that deep down, this is the case.

It seems to be in our nature as humans to compare ourselves to those more successful. Much of this has to do with the ultimately human attribute to want that which we do not, or cannot have.

We have a tendency to feel similarly about eras in time, forever longing to go back to “the good old days.”

But here’s the thing- “the good old days” had their problems too. Lest we forget, though we may occasionally stumble and fall, humanity is continually progressing. The “we” as a society today would likely have quite a bit of trouble adapting to all the conditions of an era since past. This same concept can be applied on a more personal level, whether it be “you” as an individual, or “you” as a business wishing to be like someone (or something) else.

We can’t all be the next Steve Jobs, or the next Apple.

One step at a time

Now, I’m not here to stomp on everyone’s dreams or tell you what you can and cannot do, or be. But, what I can suggest is that if you find yourself comparing yourself to an individual or business (and the validity of using comparison to gauge success is questionable at best), maybe set more easily attainable goals- especially in the early stages of your career. It is imperative to remember as well, that as a rule, things do not happen all at once.

Instead, look at your career or your business in stages.

And, unfortunately, some stages may take longer than others- the longest usually being those you may wish to be the shortest.

Sometimes, to get past these harder stages, it may be worth it to look at other successful individuals’ careers for inspiration. Instead of comparing your situation to theirs, instead it may be more worth your time to see if they ever faced a similar situation during their career, and what they did to progress or solve said situation. Instead of dealing with the pressure of trying to emulate them, you can learn from their experiences to get you or your business closer to your own personal goals.

EXAMPLE

Let’s say you want to be the next Elon Musk. That’s totally valid, and, thus far anyway, he seems like a good entrepreneurial role model. But I’m pretty sure that guy didn’t start out with the intention of being the man behind PayPal and Tesla. He (as far as we know) didn’t found Zip2 thinking “This is going to help me send dudes to Mars”. Even if he did, however, you’re doing yourself a disservice by comparing yourself, or your business, to he and/or his businesses. Your life, your experiences, your opportunities- all of those are likely very different than his were and are. Even more so, you are likely very different than him.

How, then, is it at all likely for your career to match his career’s trajectory?

Much of one’s success comes from a mixture of skill, luck, connections, and drive. But a lot also has to do with timing, opportunity, and even dumb-luck. Some of these you can work on and build up on your own. However, the intangibles are just that. Things will either fall into place, or they won’t. And, honestly, it can really suck if they don’t- but that doesn’t mean that they never will. Just as you are a unique individual, so will your career path follow its own unique course. Therein lies the biggest danger of allowing oneself to rely heavily on comparison as a means to gauge success: it is simply too easy to become dejected when one’s career takes its own unique turn- especially if seems to be a turn for the worse.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Money is not the only measure of success. Many say it, and it sounds mildly hippie-ish, but too many people do not take that statement to heart. Take solace in the fact that finding something that you love to do, and being able to make a living doing said thing, is an accomplishment in and of itself.

#MajorKey

Andrew Clausen is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and when he's not deep diving into technology and business news for you, he is a poet, enjoys rock climbing, monster movies, and spending time with his notoriously naughty cat.

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Op/Ed

1 in 5 agents on your team are at risk of burnout – how to retain them

(EDITORIAL) When your productive team members are at risk of burnout, you may lose them to another brokerage or another industry altogether.

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A recent Gallup poll shows that seven out of 10 employees feel unengaged with their work. And while researchers and HR departments have put a lot of energy into figuring out how to increase employee engagement, less attention has been focused on how to best support those employees who are already engaged. You may think being a broker or team leader is different than a Fortune 500 CEO, but in the sense of employee engagement, it’s the same.

Workers who are less engaged are actually less likely to quit (or switch brokers) than those who are engaged, but are stressed out about it. These losses are also harder for companies to bear, as highly engaged workers are generally the most productive and valuable to the team.

A study by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence surveyed over 1,000 U.S. employees to learn about engagement as it relates to burnout – burnout being, of course, the point of no return when an employee or team member is so stressed and exhausted that they can’t take it anymore.

Burnout has both physical and emotional symptoms and can lead to sleep problems and depression. Once an employee is burned out, they may need a lot of time to recover to previous levels of productivity, or worse, may give up and quit altogether. They may float to a different broker, franchise, or even another industry.

The study found that two out of five employees are highly engaged, but with low levels of burnout stress. These employees, categorized by the researchers as “optimally engaged,” had positive emotional health and contributed positively to the company. Unfortunately, one in five workers had high levels of engagement, but were at high risk for burnout. These workers represent the “engaged-exhausted” group,” and while they were very interested in their work, they were also very frustrated and stressed. This group had much higher turnover than even unengaged employees.

This means that all brands are at risk of losing some of their very best employees because they are overworked (and unsupported).

While some companies have helped their employees to reduce stress through wellness programs that encourage exercise, good nutrition, and mindfulness practices, the Yale researchers say that these programs may not do enough for highly-engaged workers.

Highly-engaged workers (or agents), across the board, reported having access to crucial resources such as supervisor support, rewards such as good pay, and recognition for their work. The biggest difference between optimally engaged workers and exhausted-engaged workers was the demands of the work itself.

In a nutshell – workers at risk for burnout simply had too much on their plates.

So while a company can expect to increase engagement, or reduce stress for engaged workers, by being supportive and offering resources and fair pay (or a better percentage), the make-or-break-it factor when it comes to burnout is the sheer volume of work.

Keep demands realistic and goals moderate. “Stretch goals” tend to stress people out more than motivate them.

If you give someone extra assignments or put more on their plate, re-delegate some of their other work to someone else or provide more assistant support. Encourage breaks and lunch breaks if someone is spending too much time at their desk.

In corporate life, the takeaway is to not overwork your best employees. But in real estate, it takes an experienced team leader or broker to spot impending burnout and address it by offering better support so another brokerage with better support doesn’t swoop in and snatch your most productive team members.

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Op/Ed

Using filters to ignore contrary opinions creates dangerous echo chambers

(EDITORIAL) We limit our growth when we accidentally create echo chambers – and most of us are guilty as sin…

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I don’t know if you remember the big to-do a couple of years ago when Lifeway Books removed Jen Hatmaker’s books from their inventory. Apparently, Lifeway Books decided that Hatmaker’s affirmation of same-sex relationships went against their doctrine.

I’m not here to argue the merits of Hatmaker or Lifeway’s decisions. At the time, I remember wondering why Lifeway was so scared of an alternative point-of-view. Lifeway is not the first company to ban a book because the ideas go against their own beliefs, it’s just the first company I could come up with as a starting point.

That brings us to today. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the newest social media filters. You are now allowed to filter out unpopular topics or opinions on your social media feeds. Personally, I love this feature. I purposely turn off pages that say, “I bet I won’t get even 1 share.” I turn off other pages that always share very questionable news. I’ve even turned off some friends who have very different political philosophies than I do.

But in some ways, I worry that I might be living in an echo chamber. An echo chamber is defined as “a metaphorical description of a situation in which beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system.”

Am I creating a system where I only hear people who don’t challenge my beliefs?

I especially worry about some of my friends who can’t see any way but their own. They won’t admit that they might be wrong or that someone else might have a solution. In our current political environment, there seems to be an attitude of not willing to give up an inch, just in case we lose our rights. With an attitude like that, neither side will be able to get anything done.

When did it become okay to stop listening to the other side?

Why are Americans (society?) so willing to only listen to ideas that are comfortable to them? We have become so polarized that no one wants to hear contrary opinions. Sometimes, it takes contrary opinions to find the media via, or middle road.

I encourage you to open your social media feed to people who think differently.

No, not your racist uncle or cousin who only posts fake news. But people who do talk about ideas and politics who may not be in your corner. I want to know what my representatives in Congress are thinking, even though I disagree with much of what they do. Let’s talk about our differences and try to find middle ground.

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Op/Ed

How calendars can stop your procrastination, boost productivity

(PRODUCTIVITY) As the old method of pen-to-paper planning comes back in style, see how its use can help with time management.

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My favorite part of writing for this publication, by far, is the fact that it always has me keeping my eyes and ears open for inspiration. The simplest comment from a friend can snowball into an idea that becomes beneficial to others.

Such was the case this past weekend when my best friend, Haley, stopped by to help me unpack my new house. Haley is a graduate student, pursuing a master’s in interpersonal communication, and is a much smarter version of myself.

We got to talking about what was on tap for Haley’s final semester and she told me about a workshop she’s creating for the graduate school on the topic of how using planners/calendars helps with time management. The girl has an affinity for pen-to-paper planners, and has created an organizational structure for her daily life through their use.

Naturally, I thought, “hey, sometimes I attempt to give people advice on time management and planning, let’s bounce some ideas off of each other.” Haley then gave me a rundown of the bullet points she’s planning on covering for her interactive workshop.

1) Take everything as it comes. As a new task pops up, put it down on your calendar (whether paper or electronic) so that you don’t forget to do it later.

2) With these tasks, schedule deadlines for yourself. It can be tough to be self-motivate and have tasks completed by your own assignment. However, putting them down in writing will help you stick to them.

Only work on something if you’re being productive. If you stop being productive, you should take a step back and work on something else for a while,” says Haley. “This is why my personal deadlines help because it makes me work harder but I still have my own time.”

3) Schedule out your week starting with events that you cannot change. Start by writing down your work schedule, then appointments, meetings, etc. Then schedule in tasks that have more flexibility in time.

4) After doing this, take all of these tasks and prioritize what must be completed first and assess how much time each task will take. Be sure to give yourself an appropriate amount of time for each task.

5) For bigger projects, considering breaking them down a bit. “For bigger projects I break it down into steps, normally using a concept map to understand the core aspects of my task and what needs to be accomplished within each of those to make it more digestible,” says Haley. “Once I have the pieces, I place the pieces into my weekly schedule of events I cannot change.”

All of the pieces of this puzzle come together to create a calendar that will help you juggle every aspect of your life and boost your productivity. By implementing these ideas in my own planning, it has definitely helped me to become more of a self-starter.

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