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Instant Coffee and Pyramids

Instant coffee, instant soup, fast food restaurants, TV dinners, and microwave ovens — each an attempt to save and preserve our most precious asset—time! Time to smell the roses…time to love.

Yet, in spite of an endless array of modern time-saving technologies and conveniences, most of us still feel that time is running out or rushing by. This can be especially true for those of us in REAL ESTATE who desire to increase our sales. So we hurry and the anxiety and stress continue to increase. In a frenzy, we hasten to enjoy ourselves, to be “there” now, and then wonder upon arrival, what’s more important, the journey or the destination?

It’s as though we don’t really accept the fact that life is a process, a journey to be lived one day at a time. Our problem though, is not time.

Our problem is our attitude about time, and our attitude is called impatience. While having run a very large Real Estate company for over 20 years, exercising patience has been a challenge. Knowing that impatience can affect both one’s health and relationships, overcoming impatience is something I work at curbing on a regular basis.

Think about it, how is it that we’ve learned so little of patience? Were we not all taught that patience is a virtue and its own reward, or that the secret to great success is knowing how to wait? Maybe our impatience is just a reflection of the times, with our emphasis on ends over means, on heaven over earth.

The fact is, patience is the cement with which the great pyramids of ancient Egypt were built—pyramids forty stories tall with wide bases—pyramids that have stood the test of time. 

So, it goes when building a career! 

I’ve observed that most agents are not long-term, career-oriented. Instead they continually get caught up in the moment, in the immediate deal or hot prospect with no view of the big picture or the future. They are short-sighted, always in a hurry. I refer to them as the “hhamster agents.” They rush, rush, rush just to get back to the same place, spinning and going nowhere on the hamster wheel. 

How simple a premise, patience and base-building…the slow, secure way to success, riches, and outstanding achievements, whether in the arts and sciences, business, education, politics, and REAL ESTATE, or in any other field of endeavor. Witness the patience of our Olympic athletes as they train with dedication for ten years to run just ten seconds.

Patience, then, is the name of the game. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” nor is it likely that anything of substance or enduring value will be created from scratch in any less time.

But who has the patience to wait? After all, isn’t life too short not to take shortcuts?

Impatiently, then, we proceed en masse to build one-dimensional, paper pyramids, in a desperate attempt to achieve instant success and fulfillment, without having to suffer the slow, plodding, meaningless journey. We build our paper pyramids and then watch them crumble and fall like a house of cards, enduring no longer than the patience and persistence of the builders themselves. Note, that the real estate industry turns over 15% of its members every year. 15% out and a new 15% in. Also, according to the NAR, 50% of those in the industry are in the business less than 5 years.

I was asked the following question while sitting on a panel recently: “What do I believe is the biggest problem real estate agents have today?” At various times in my coaching and managing career, I would have thought to say…not enough prospecting.

Not today, though. My answer, somewhat tongue-in-cheek was easy and fast…they suffer from symptoms of A.D.D! ATTENTION DEFICIT! More specifically, impatience and the inability to slow down and focus on what’s really important, like making a serious career plan that recognizes the need to build long-term relationships with clients and those in associated industries, for example: escrow, banking, and appraisal.

This impatience is further reflected in their preoccupation with the faces on their cell phones, texting rather than engaging in deep and meaningful conversations, apathy to learning the forces at play in their industry, and failure to engage in continuing education.

In addition, I’ve witnessed example after example of people in such a hurry they’ve lost their capacity to listen, either to their prospects or those who have greater experience. Their brains literally shut down. Their eyes are open, but mentally they’re not present, to the point that they often miss aha moments, those nuggets of insight that could improve their odds of closing sales, and possibly even impact their perspective on success and happiness.

It’s just remarkable. In spite of the advances in technology, designed to improve productivity, I have never observed, in my 40 years in real-estate, a lower level of individual productivity, mostly the result of one self-defeating human characteristic…impatience, a product of our times.

You get the point, and while I am sure that some of the 15% who leave our industry will find something else to succeed at, I’m confident it won’t happen if they don’t get the message and learn these lessons along the way, somewhere.

The point is timeless, persistence without patience causes anxiety, while patience without persistence yields futility. But combine patience with persistence and the result is a power that, when harnessed over time, can topple despotic governments, bring down walls (Berlin) that divide us and change the destiny of the world, all with the appearance of happening overnight.

And so, too, with patience and time, the mulberry leaf becomes silk, a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, an organization becomes an institution, and dreams become realities.

In the final analysis, patience, at its roots, is really little more than a demonstration of faith; so, God, grant me patience………and I want it NOW!

Quotes on Patience

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

Saint Augustine

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.

Dutch Proverb

Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.

Barbara Johnson

Personal experience has taught me that impatience has been more responsible for the errors, mistakes, do-overs, and bad decisions in my life than my ignorance, immaturity, or inexperience.


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