‘The Common Denominator of Success:’ The Power of Habit

Last time, we looked at why a sense of purpose is so essential to success.  However, according to Albert E.N. Gray, who first presented this idea in a speech in 1940, sense of purpose is really only one half of the success equation.  In reality, every single qualification for success is acquired through habit.  We form habits, and these habits form futures.  In fact, if we do not deliberately form good habits, then we are actually forming bad habits without knowing it.  We are who we are for a simple reason: We have formed the habit of being that kind of person, and the only way to change that is by changing our habits.

Success in investment real estate shares the same root cause that Gray wrote about some 75 years ago: It can be found in the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to have recruited, coached and deployed dozens of investment real estate agents.  Inevitably, those who succeed have deliberately formed good habits in four areas of execution:

  • Prospecting habits
  • Calling habits
  • Selling habits
  • Working habits

Let’s take a look at each of these areas.

Prospecting Habits
Successful investment sales agents understand the importance of prospecting, yet many find themselves learning this lesson the hard way.  While the virtues of prospecting may seem apparent to the new agent, it’s often misdirected in its focus.  If you have not deliberately formed the habit of prospecting for needs, regardless of wants, then unconsciously you have formed the habit of limiting your prospecting to people who may not have a compelling need for your services — and that is the one and only real reason for a lack of prospects.

Calling Habits
Successful investment sales agents understand that cold calling in and of itself has little value if there is no need for your expertise.  Unless you have formed the habit of calling on people who have such a need, but are perhaps unwilling to listen, then you have instead formed the less productive habit of calling on people who are willing to listen, but have no need for your expertise.

Selling Habits
Successful investment sales agents understand the importance of articulating and selling their own value proposition to a prospective client.  Unless you have formed the habit of calling on prospects determined to make them see the value of your proposition, then you have instead formed the habit of calling on prospects that will make you see their reasons for not accepting it.

Working Habits
If you take care of the three previous habits, then working habits will generally take care of themselves — study and preparation, organization of time and efforts, records, analyses, etc. Certainly you’re not going to plan your day’s work when you know in your heart that you’re not going to carry out your plans.  And you’re certainly not going to keep an honest record of things you haven’t done or the results you haven’t achieved.  Therefore, don’t worry too much about this fourth group.  If you are taking care of the first three groups, most of the working habits will take care of themselves and you’ll be able to afford an admin or assistant to take care of the rest of them for you.