RTRE 60 – Breaking Out of a Rut in Your Real Estate Business

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We’ve all been there. Life hits you like a freight train and knocks you off course. Today we discuss how to get the train back on its track. Tune in to hear about how we deal with death, struggle, and negative outside voices.

reThink Real Estate Podcast Transcription

Audio length 28:18

RTRE 60 – Breaking Out of a Rut in Your Real Estate Business

[music] [Chris] Welcome to re:Think Real Estate, your educational and hopefully entertaining source for all things real estate, business, news and tech. 

[Christian]: I am Christian Harris in Seattle, Washington.

[Nathan]: Hi, I am Nathan White in Columbus, Ohio.

[Chris]: And I am Chris Lazarus in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks for tuning in. 

[music] [Chris]: Everybody and welcome back to re:Think Real Estate. I’m Chris here with Christian and Nate is back. No longer sick. Welcome back Nate. 

[Nathan]: Thanks. Thank you.

[Chris]: Yes. All of energy today. [laughter] 

[Christian]: He is possessed to be here.

[Chris]: Oh. Let’s see those jazz hands Nate.

[Nathan]: Hold on. [laughter].

[Christian]: What are you typing?

[Chris]: Not even…Not even ready to start. There we go. 

[Christian]: Yeah don’t worry about this. 

[Chris]: So we were just talking before getting started here about, you know, what do you do when you’re in a rut. Like you’re just out of it, you know, listening to Nate’s voice. He’s in a rut right now. Even if it’s just for the next hour. So like Christian what do you do when you’re in a rut? Like how do you pull yourself out of it?

[Christian]: I mean I’ll tell you one thing that’s key to not do and that’s to quit, and to listen to the demons, you know, that are speaking…speaking lives in your head about how your failure and your, you know, nothing’s ever gonna change and it’s gonna be like this forever. I’m sure I’m just the only one that hears those negative thoughts but…

[Chris]: It’s gonna be like this forever. You’re a failure.

[Christian]: Don’t listen to them. I know. See now I’m hearing the voices for real. This is so real.

[Chris]: [laughter] In your headphones. 

[Christian]: Yeah in my headphones. So that’s the first thing you don’t do.

[Chris]: Yeah I gotta agree.

[Christian]: For me personally, you know, I just kind of keep my head down and keep going. But I mean I lot of it depends on why I am in a rut. Is it like a family rut where relationships aren’t going great? Is it work? Is it financial? You know. Because I think, you know, the solution to those are all gonna be a little different. But the key to getting out of those is leaning…leaning on people. You know, like being honest. Having people that can come around to you and speak truth into that. Whether it’s co-workers or family members or, you know, besties, you know. Don’t isolate yourself because that’s…that’s doesn’t go well for most people.

[Chris]: Gotta have your besties. Nate.

[Nathan]: Yep.

[Chris]: What do you think?

[Nathan]: What’s the question again?

[Chris]: How do you get out of a rut.

[Nathan]: Oh how do you get out of a rut.

[Christian]: It’s your topic buddy.

[Chris]: Yeah this is your choice Mr. “I’m in a rut.” 

[Nathan]: How do you…You know, I don’t know. You got to find, you know, how you used to work triggers. You got to find….one you got to be able to identify you’re in a rut. Right. I mean, you know, yeah I just kind of went through one. Yeah I was sick for a week. Had some unfortunate family things happen. And, you know, it was just [censored] death of you. I mean it’s what it was but you know it side tracks you. Right. You know, as I call it the…the train gets off the rail. So you one you got to recognize that the…the freaking train you’re on is off the rails. And then you got to figure out what’s the trigger to get it back on. You know, for me it’s being very scheduled and stuff. And just it’s…I don’t know you have to just recommit. 

You know, what’s the…I used to have a mentor who used to say “You kind of have to recenter the salt on the plate.” And I think that’s what you got to do. You got to be able to identify it. You got to figure out, you know, why you’re in it. OK get out of it, you know, and then , you know, there’s certain things. I don’t know you can read motivational stuff. I mean Gary Vee I, you know, it’s not for all people but he’s for me. And I can get on a pity party and he gets me out of the pity party. So

[Christian]: Yeah nice kick to the junk to get you back on track.

[Nathan]: Yeah and I think in our industry, I think we all get kind of jaded at times. You get….you get I don’t know. You get frustrated and then you get sidetracked. 

[Christian]: And it’s just you.

[Nathan]: Yeah all right.

[Chris]: No it’s definitely not just you. 

[Nathan]: Yeah I know it’s everybody. I was talking with a colleague the other day and, you know, he said “Man I just…” he said “I didn’t do [censored] for six months.” And now you know, he knew it. He identified it. But, you know, he’s like the worst part is now I gotta play catch-up. I, you know, we all, you know, we get these peaks and valleys. And I don’t…I don’t like to get in those peaks and valleys. I like to have, you know, a nice steady stream of income. Right.

[Chris]: Well six months is a little bit too long. That…that’s not all right. Six months is an active decision to say “You know what, I’m just not gonna work.”

[Nathan]: Yeah.

[Christian]: I think it’s called clinical depression.

[Nathan]: Yeah well, you know, he was working on his home doing some other things. Fine. But…

[Christian]: OK so he’s just distracted.

[Nathan]: He’s just distracted and I think we all can get distracted. And then I think we just get frustrated. You know, we can get in our own way. So and, you know, it’s, you know, you hear a realtor say “Oh I’m…” You know, we talked about this before. You know, “I’m so busy” And you say “What do you have going on?” And they’re like “Oh I got one house in contract.” But you’re so busy like…I don’t know. It’s…when I’m not busy, I’m not busy. You know, I don’t even like the question what people say “Oh it’s spring time right now. You’re, you know, you must be busy as all get out. I’m steady. I’m not busy as I’ll get out. But when you talk to me in November, December, January and February, guess what? You get the same response. Versus a lot of people say “Well I ain’t got nothing going on.”

So staying out of a rut I think is important. I think it’s important that you identify how long you’re in one. And it only took two weeks to get in one. Just because of, you know, being sick. And we’re all self-employed. Right. o…

[Chris]: Yeah I think I think one of the things is it doesn’t take too long to get into a rut. Like one thing can happen and throw you completely off the rails. And then it…you have to go through…well depending upon what it is, you’ve got to go through these stages of healing to kind of get back into your groove. So if it’s…if, you know, if it’s family that’s throwing, you know, things at you that are like “Oh, you know, what you’re wasting your time. You’re not in a good environment. The industry is gonna end soon. Your real estate agents are gonna be obsolete. Everything’s gonna be AI in tech.” I just got that from my [censored] father the other day. And…

[Christian]: Ouch.

[Chris]: Yeah like “Really, no I…I don’t think it is but, you know, that…that’s great that you’re encouraging me. I really appreciate that.” But you got to go through this stage of accepting what has happened. Seeing it from, you know, multiple points of view. Realizing that, you know, you’re either making the right decision and then you double down on your decision, or there’s some corrective action that needs to happen. And then you need to make the corrective action.

[Christian]: I mean I’d say that, this is kind of cliché, but I definitely say that it’s very important to…as you’re trying to, you know, realize, you know, “OK what’s…what set me in this rut and how do I get out?” is to try to only focus on things that you can affect. Right. As most of stuff in our life we have no control over. You can’t control other agents, can’t control the market. You control what you do and how focused you are. And, you know, your attitude and all that kind of stuff. 

But I’d say that’s definitely key to getting out of it is not…not, you know, what we call catastrophizing, if that’s a word, which I don’t think it is. But, you know, essentially…

[Nathan]: It sounds great.

[Chris]: Yeah if it’s not a word it sounds like a word and it should be a word. So yeah…

[Christian]: It’s…it’s a word that would they use in in the military’s newer…what they call it, resiliency training . Essentially, you know, one of the keys to, you know, not getting in a rut or recognizing when you are going into rut is recognizing, you know, a mindset that’s a downward spiral of catastrophizing everything. Where, you know, one thing happens and then you just assume the worst and then that, you know, self-fulfilling prophecy happens. And you keep spiraling downwards as opposed to, you know, “OK let’s look at the big picture. Let’s not think of the worst thing let’s think of, you know, outcomes that are positive and, you know, be optimistic as opposed to pessimistic”, you know. 

This is one of the mental tricks of, you know, how are you going to position yourself mentally to get out of the rut. As opposed to, you know, staying in that rut.

[Chris]: I like that. That’s really good. So Nate, cuz you ran for 24 hours last year, what was like what was going on in your head and do you think that any of those things could be used to get you out of a rut ?

[Nathan]: Well I’m getting ready to run for twelve hours soon again. I think it’s just it’s…it’s a semental staying power if you would. Because what’s the easiest thing to do in any of those scenarios are with what we do for a living, what’s the easiest thing to do? [censored] it. Quit. Right.

[Chris]: Like quit. Don’t even…

[Nathan]: Just quit. Right. I mean I think what most people don’t realize and, you know, I can use it running wise or even and, you know, in this rut…What we think of and perceive is something that maybe feels like forever, is really not that long of a period of time. Right. When I did that race out in Colorado or run out in Colorado, there was a gentleman that, you know, he quit after, you know, about 16 hours. And he said “I can’t do it anymore.” And I said “Dude just take a break. Don’t leave the course. If you leave the, you know, if you leave the course, you can’t restart. But you can you could take a rest, that’s fine. It’s OK. If you want a rest for thirty minutes or three hours then you could start back up on whatever mile you’re on.”  Right.

And he said no he couldn’t do it. He went back to his hotel. About twenty three hours and thirty minutes into it I seen him at the finish line, start/finish line. And, you know, him lapping through and he comes and pulls up beside me and starts running. And I was like “What are you doing back out here?” He’s like “I should have listened to you.” He’s like “I left. I got back to the hotel. I took 30 minutes. Laid down and I was like nah I feel great now.” 

So I think what we do is it’s…it’s how we perceive that. Right. like “Oh you’re in a rut.” And I have been in a rut for two weeks. And it’s that like Christian said, you get the self-fulfilling prophecy. And then it does spiral out of control. Right. versus if we can kind of slam the [censored] brakes on things, and go “Hold up. All right. Reset.” And…and grab a hold of it by the balls a little bit, you know, then…then you’ve got a good opportunity. But I think we just we, you know, society as a whole and what, you know, whether it’s real estate or not, we…we just get caught up in that bad moment. So you got to be more optimistic than pessimistic.

[Christian]: Yeah well I think it also help if, you know, kind of speaking to people getting into the industry, if there was a more realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be a new agent. Because I mean I’ve, you know, speaking of our first quarter was very, very rough financially. And we have like five agents that just gave up. Just “I’m done. I’m not renewing my license. This was too hard.” And it’s kind of that lack of resiliency because they’d…I don’t think they had a realistic expectations coming into it. They’re like “You can’t just sit on YouTube while you, you know, quote to do your calls.” [laughter]

Like you’re not gonna get…You know, so there’s a lack of resiliency. There’s a lack of hustle. A lack of urgency and then, you know, no matter what, you know, your brokerage does, or people come up alongside you, they don’t do it. They don’t listen. And then they quit. And you’re like “Yeah I kind of saw the writing on the wall.” 

You’re like, you know, it’s…from the perspective of a broker like it’s really easy to become jaded. And, you know, my version of a rut looks differently, you know, because I’m looking at agents and productivity and, you know, margins. And that kind of stuff. From agent perspective, you know, it’s trying to get business, you know, having people say no to you. Or if you’re new to an area trying to figure out how to get the word out there. And, you know, that kind of stuff. But either way it comes down to like not giving up, being resilient when things don’t go perfectly, not letting that spiral and ruin the rest of your day. 

[Nathan]: I would agree.

[Chris]: Definitely, you know, you’ve got to be able to compartmentalize a little bit to know “Hey, you know what this is not that big of a deal.” Or, “You know what, this sucks. But, you know, I gotta keep ploughing on because if I stop I’m never gonna get this done. I’m never gonna hit my goal. So I’ve got to keep going.” 

You know, it took, you know, I was in a rut a few weeks ago. And it took me a good five to six days to work my way through it. And it wasn’t until I kind of saw some things from a different angle that, you know, it was…I realized, you know what, what I was doing was correct. And, you know, this one situation was an outlier. And it really didn’t affect what I was doing as much as I thought it would.

[Christian]: Yeah I mean a lot of what we’re talking about here is your perspective. Right. And earlier I mentioned not letting yourself be isolated. And the reason for that is that other people can bring a perspective that you don’t have. You know, they’re looking at that from the outside. Where you may be, you know, kind of myopically looking at your feet. And, you know, where you just stumbled while they’re looking at the big picture of like “But look at all this potential and look at where you came from and look at what’s ahead of you.” 

You know, I think that’s very important to have that community around you, of people that can speak into you. Well that’s your spouse or business partner or whatever.

[Chris]: And sometimes you don’t even want to hear it. Sometimes you’re just like “You know what, I…I’m not even gonna listen” and you have to hear from some like third party that has nothing to do with you. Because, you know, those that are closest to us sometimes we feel like they’re just, you know, boosting us up. And it’s not authentic.

[Christian]: Right. And then your wife says “That’s what I’ve been saying to you.” And you’re like “Oh sorry.”.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Christian]: I get that [censored] all the time. My wife’s like “Why wouldn’t you just listen to me. That’s what I was telling you.” And I am like “Oh [censored] you’re right.”

[Nathan]: Well that’s…that’s the funny flipside of being resilient. Another word for that could be stubborn. Or [laughter] hard-headed, you know. So what keeps you driving for it could also be what keeps you from listen to people. So …

[Chris]: Yeah I think not so much that, but we have…we have this tendency that if something shakes us to our core. like that we’re…if something happens it’s that messes us up and throws us way off track, then we have this tendency to not exactly trust everything that we’ve done, up until that point 100%. So if there’s something…if there’s something that’s in our core circle that’s telling us something and then whatever happens throws us off our game, then we’re gonna immediately have a certain distrust for this. And we’re gonna go to an outside source to verify whether we’re right or wrong. And once we do that, if we verify “You know what, what we’ve been doing is right.” then we come back to that circle and like “You know what, everything here is good.” We’re happy. If something’s wrong then we’re gonna come back to that circle and be like “Wait what the [censored] is going on here? Like why…why are you saying this. Or, you know, why didn’t…why…” You get it. Yeah it’s…it’s not just about listening to those that are closest to us. It’s a mental thing. Like if something…mentally we’ve got to recenter ourselves.

[Christian]: It sounds like you’re saying that insecurity creeps in, depending on where we feel like things went wrong.

[Chris]: Yeah definitely. And I mean it all depends on whatever happens. Right. because sometimes it’s something small and it’s not a big deal and it maybe, you know, maybe it’s something that we’re just disappointed in, and it’s gonna take us, you know, a few minutes to get over. Or maybe it’s something…maybe it’s a personal attack or something that a relative is going in, the new agents is going. You’re not making any money. You need to stop. Right.

This is…you’re…you’re wasting your time, you’re wasting your money, you’re wasting our money, if it’s a spouse. You know, even if you’re doing the right things you may have not planned long enough. Nothing ever happens fast enough. Nothing ever happens, you know, the way that we want it. So you’ve got to kind of have that margin of error that you can work with.

[Christian]: Sure and when you come into with…realistic expectations. Right. I mean so much of what happens in relationships that goes wrong, or getting in a rut that…that, you know, the reason we get there is because expectations are unmet, or our situation changes. You know, like if…if we think is gonna be easy and it’s not, you know, we get in a rut. If, you know, we expect to make more money in the first quarter than we did, you know, it’s easy getting in a rut. I mean it’s just kind of…and not letting those quote failures drive you or dictate you. Because I mean what, you know, one man’s failures is another person’s learning, try opportunity.

Yeah and that’s something I’ve had to learn. Is like theoretically I understood. You know, as this ethereal concept I understood that failure was inevitable, and I need to be able to learn from that. But than going through that, that’s experientially a lot different. 

[Nathan]: So I need to get over this whole thing of how my job interferes me living my best life.

[Chris]: You have the one job that you not interfere with you living your best life.

[Nathan]: I don’t have a job. 

[Christian]: This is coming from the guy who’s taken like several vacation this month to go down to…[crosstalk] [Nathan]: I know. I know. Listen you…listen I don’t even have a job. I have…I do something I enjoy and love. I’m fortunate that I don’t even do it as a job. I get to do what I enjoy.

[Chris]: That’s good.

[Christian]: Yeah well let’s…let’s take us a little deeper and more personal. I mean Nate you kind of brought up the subject, cuz this last couple weeks have been pretty rough for you. I mean what have you found to be helpful kind of getting out of this rut for you?

[Chris]: And first do you need to lay down on the therapist couch and put five cents in the jar?

[Nathan]: No. Again it’s…what’s been helpful for me I mean again it’s…I think, you know, what’s the old saying? You know, you you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time around. So I think it’s also about the people you surround yourselves with. And that, you know, when you do get in that, they’ll help you with that. You know, or they’ll, you know, they’ll they’re kind of champion you and…and support you to say, you know, “Hey yeah…” You know, when you say “I’m in a rut or I’m this” they’ll…they’ll boost those spirits. 

And it won’t be an ego boost. It won’t be one of those things like “You’re the best thing in the world next to cotton candy.” But they know how to push you in the right direction to support you. And I think that’s what…having that support is important. And I mean that ranges from colleagues that I have, to neighbors, to a wife. Like, you know, it’s…it’s all those things. You know, it…it makes, you know, surviving that period of time easier. 

And…and sometimes you just need that outer push. And you also need it…I think you need the people around you that are honest with you. You know, what I mean?

[Chris]: You don’t need “Yes men. Yes.”

[Nathan]: Yeah right. Yeah you need somebody to go tell you the truth. I mean that’s, you know, that’s, you know, my friends, the people I surround myself with will tell me, you know, what they think. And…and sometimes I don’t want to hear it. [censored] A lot of times I don’t want to hear it. But it is what I needed to hear.

[Christian]: Sure. No one likes hearing the hard truth.

[Nathan]: Yeah, no you know.

[Chris]: But to be able to appreciate it though when it’s in front of you.

[Nathan]: Yeah. Yeah you’re right.

[Chris]: That’s one of the hard…the hardest thing that I’ve found is when, you know, getting that criticism. Whe…when you just want to wall up and go into like active defence mode. Like just letting your body language relax. Having, you know, open gestures and trying to be open-minded to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and see what they’re seeing. 

[Nathan]: Right.

[Chris]: And then trying to see if there’s some corrective action that needs to be made there. That’s…that’s hard when you just go into like “Alright go ahead, give me the feedback because it’s rare that I ever get feedback like this. So, you know, take advantage of it while you can.”

[Christian]: Sure. Well it can be challenging too because, you know, no one’s perfect and no feedback is gonna be perfect. So you have to like decide “OK what’s an honest truth that I need to hear” versus “OK that part is kind of [censored]. I’m gonna not take that, you know, what I’ll take, you know, kind of not throw the baby off the bathwater.” Like taking the truth where you find it whether that’s in, you know, quote a rival or enemy, or that’s in someone who’s, you know, really close to you and has your best interest at mind.

You know, like that could be…it can be challenging. Because, you know, typically I find that if you’re playing it safe, there’s gonna be a lot less friction and a lot less controversy and criticism. If you’re really pushing the bounds, that’s when things get tough and people can get ugly. So…

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Nathan]: You know, I know how to…at least I know how to do it. I know how to have a fight with myself. If that makes any sense. You find out [crosstalk] Yeah I know how to like…

[Chris]: Elaborate on that.

[Christian]: Yes do.

[Nathan]: Because you’ve got to be willing to call your own [censored]. Right. You’ve got to be willing to kind of punch yourself in the face. Right. you’ve got to be…

[Christian]: I need to watch conversations with you.

[Nathan]: Yeah. Right. That’s a staff meeting. Remember? It again it’s, you know, you…it’s like…I mean it sounds crazy but it’s having that conversation in your head of “Hey Nathan, stop being a pussy and do what you know, what you need to do. Get your [censored] up off the couch. Or wake up on time. Or eat right. Or whatever it is. You’re not doing these things. Stop…stop [censored] yourself.”

And just having that honest, you know, that David Goggin [phonetics] said, you know, “You got to be able to look that man in the mirror.” Right. And that man in the mirror is, you know, me. And so if you can’t have that honest fight, dialogue with yourself internally, I don’t think it matters what anybody tells you then.

[Christian]: Well the starting place for that is being self-aware. Like if you don’t know yourself like you’re gonna have a real tough time having that honest conversation.

[Nathan]: Well most people can’t do that though. They live in some [censored] fairyland.

[Christian]: Well yeah, you know, I mean we all have our blind spots. Some people are more aware than…than others, you know. [crosstalk] The most important thing in life is…is being honest about that, you know. 

[Nathan]: Right. Sorry. I don’t know. You gotta find what works for you. I know what works for me.

[Christian]: Yeah you…you be unique.

[Nathan]: I’m good at doing that. Chris are we gonna wrap it up?

[Chris]: Yeah so I think we…we hit on some good points. The…I think no matter where you are in your career you’re gonna get hit with something that’s gonna throw you off your game. You’re gonna…you’re gonna have a Nate moment where you got to be in front of the mirror and you got to kick yourself in the [censored]. 

You know, one of the things that I tell some of the new agents is, you’re always gonna have a boss. And even when you’re self-employed you still have a boss. It’s the person in the mirror. And who do you want to work for? Do you want to work for a strong leader? Somebody who’s going to step up and challenge the things that needs to be challenged to make sure that things are getting done that need to be done? Somebody that’s gonna keep it on track? Or do you want to work for somebody who is just very lackadaisical and doesn’t really care when you clock in? 

And you have a boss, whether you’re working for somebody else or yourself. So it’s just a matter of making sure that you’re doing the right things for you. When you get stuck in a rut, you got to pull yourself out of it. One way or another. 

[Nathan]: Yeah, you know, Henry David Thoreau [phonetics] comes to mind. Sorry. Pulling out the big gun. But, you know, he said “What lies…what lies ahead of us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what’s within you, out into the world, great things happen.” Right so, you know, I think you gotta remember what’s inside.

[Chris]: We need to set up Nate’s…Nate’s motivational quotes of the week.

[Christian]: I know that’s good. That’s a good one. And as kind of closing thoughts…kind of reflecting on our conversation here. You know, obviously people’s struggles are vary based on them, their personality, situation and what not. A lot of we’ve been saying is, you know, kind of “Don’t give up. Keep trying. Push harder.” Yeah that kind of stuff. But I also want to say that it’s not entirely up to you or it’s not just about working hard or trying harder. Because sometimes, you know, you push too hard and you work too much and you get sick. And, you know, your body forces you to…to take a break.

So I know for me one thing that’s rejuvenating, and it can help me get out of a rut sometimes even when I feel like my rut is I have too much to do, is to act…intentionally take a break. Spend more time with the family. Unplug from work. Now some agents, you know, err on that side too much. Where, you know, spend too much time…they spend too much time relaxing. And not enough time working. I don’t think that’s our problem. And I think that’s a lot of agents problems. 

But give yourself permission to take a break, rejuvenate, spend time with family, you know, not always be…be working. Because sometimes that’s all it takes to get out of a rut. 

[Chris]: I couldn’t agree with you more. And, you know, it’s…sometimes it’s hard for…for agents to take off, you know, an entire week from work. Just do a few long weekends every now and then. You don’t have to…you don’t have to take off a week or two weeks. Sometimes that’s…that’s not realistic. But make sure that your mental health is in check. And that you’re taking some time to decompress and unwind and put things in perspective.

What I’ve found is that when…when I’m able to do that, I’ll come back with some new ideas. Because I’m not thinking about, you know, the day-to-day. I’ll be able to just kind of, you know, day dream. Whatever it is. Read a good book and come back with, you know, a new perspective on what we’re doing. So couldn’t agree more with you Christian. Nate great points. 

Everybody thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s episode of re:Think Real Estate. If you haven’t already ,please go to the website which is rtrepodcast.com. sign up for the newsletter so you never miss an episode, whenever we drop one, which is every single week. Thanks for tuning in everybody. We’ll see you next week.


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