Why Perfection Is Not A Reasonable Goal and Four Ways To Get Over It

Why Perfection Is Not A Reasonable Goal and Four Ways To Get Over It

Why “The Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good” and What You Can Do About It

Genesis 1:31 tells us that when God created the world, he looked upon what he had done and declared that it was “good.” Notice he didn’t say it was perfect. Just very good.

How often do you look over your day and pronounce it “good?” Or do you let the little bits of unfinished business eat away at you? Do you wish you had done a better job of that report, or that open house? Do you procrastinate about calling potential clients because you’re not perfectly articulate on the phone?

Let’s recognize that perfect is not a reasonable goal and stop Perfectionism right in his tracks. Here are four key strategies for getting over the perfectionism problem.

  • Remind yourself
  • Leave well enough alone
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Judge not

#1: Remind yourself. This tactic can be applied in two different ways. First of all, when you’re feeling caught in the perfectionism trap, remind yourself of all that you HAVE accomplished. If perfectionism is a significant roadblock for you, do this daily. Make a list of everything you’ve accomplished. Even small things, like skipping dessert at lunch time if you’re trying to lose weight, or spending 30 minutes at the gym when you intended to spend an hour. Starting your blog, even if you didn’t finish it. Tomorrow is another day.

The second use of reminders takes a tip from an old psychologist friend of mine. We were discussing the perfectionism problem one day and he shared an idea he had – make a sign and hang it over your desk. The sign says:

Good Enough Is.

Don’t worry about making the sign perfect. You can print it out on your computer, draw a picture, scribble it on cardboard, or decorate it with stickers—but do it NOW. Don’t wait to be inspired.

#2: Leave well enough alone. This probably should say “Leave other people alone.” Resist the temptation to reset the dining room table after your kids have put the forks in the wrong place. Don’t offer to critique a co-worker’s report because you know you could have done a better job. Let your client get her home staged for the open house and don’t come along behind her and start moving the furniture or rearranging the flowers.

#3: Expect the unexpected. Disasters will strike, so it’s always a good idea to have a Plan B, just in case. Since you know things sometimes fall apart at the last minute, anticipate it and be prepared. Have an extra set of documents ready for closing, in case someone forgets theirs. If you’re nervous about a listing conference with a cantankerous client, wear the power tie that makes you feel like the Chairman of the Board. You won’t be perfect in these situations, but you will definitely be “good enough.”

#4: Judge not. The truth is, you are being judged all the time, and usually by the ultimate critic—yourself. You set impossibly high standards and then get to beat yourself up when you fail to meet them. Do you know that most people don’t set goals because they are afraid of not accomplishing them? So if you set a goal to increase your sales by 10% and you only increase them by 7%, have you failed? Absolutely not! You’re 7% ahead of where you were last year. If you set a goal to lose 25 pounds and you only lose 15, have you failed? Of course not—you’re 15 pounds lighter than you used to be. You’re not perfect, but you’re good enough.

Accepting “good enough” doesn’t mean settling for mediocrity. There is always room for improvement, even after a project is launched or a negotiation has begun. There’s always a chance to learn something so you can do it better next time. Accepting “good enough” simply means that you refuse to let perfectionism get in the way of your accomplishment—or worse, stop you from doing anything at all.

When someone asked famed cellist Pablo Cassals why he continued to practice at the age of 90, he smiled and said, “Because I think I’m improving.” Cassals knew that good enough was good enough, as long as he kept trying to do better. You should too.

How to Make the Most of Holiday Downtime

 How to Make the Most of Holiday Downtime

It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you’re not taking some planned time off, chances are you’re spending time in the office. Maybe you’re on desk duty or maybe you’re just feeling guilty about that steadily growing stack of paper on your desk.

Well, guess what? You can make this normally dead week into a major period of productivity. Here’s how:

  • Start a thank you list
  • Get in touch
  • Volunteer to help someone
  • Review your social media
  • Conduct a performance review

Now, put away the Angry Birds, shut down Facebook, turn off your email, and let’s see what we can accomplish in your business during this dead week.

  1. Start a thank you list. Make a list of everyone you can think of who has helped you in any way during the past year. Maybe you’ve already said a verbal thank you or sent an email. Be different this time—send a handwritten note, mailed with a real postage stamp. Maybe even get a supply of Happy New Year cards and write your notes on those. The end result? You’ll make at least two people feel good—yourself and the person who gets your note. You can never over-thank someone for a favor. 
  2. Get in touch. Yes, this means picking up the phone, not sending emails. Touch base with colleagues you haven’t seen, former clients, vendors, and others in your network. If you think there might be an unresolved issue with any of these, acknowledge it, do what you can to make amends, and start the year with a clean slate. You can even include family and friends in this effort—the niece whose birthday you forgot, the high school chum you haven’t talked to in months. You’ll feel lighter when this project is complete. 
  3. Volunteer to help someone. Perhaps your colleague down the hall has a showing or an open house scheduled but her granddaughter is dancing in The Nutcracker at the very same time. Take over for her. She’ll never forget your kindness, believe me. We all have those times when we are torn between family and work responsibilities. The stress isn’t good for your health. Doing a favor for someone else is. 
  4. Review your social media. How you use social media has a big impact on your personal brand. Google your own name. Find out what’s being said about you online. Maybe it’s nothing, but if it’s something that needs your attention, do it. Delete or cancel accounts you’re not using. Make a list of Tweets, Facebook posts, and blog topics you can start using as soon that ball drops on New Year’s Eve. You might even write a few ahead, so you don’t let this important part of your strategy drop in the post-holiday rush. 
  5. Conduct a performance review—of yourself! What were your goals at the beginning of this year? How many of them did your reach? What derailed you or got in your way? What do you need to recreate for the coming year? The purpose of this is not to beat yourself up or feel bad for what didn’t get done. Congratulate yourself for what you did accomplish. Celebrate your successes, large and small. Then use what you’ve learned to design a plan for 2015.

Yes, this does bring us to the age-old topic of goal setting. According to research conducted by Harvard University and others, fewer than 10% of business people have goals at all and only 3% write them down. So if you write down even one or two, you are way ahead of the game.

In order to be effective, goals must be SMART. This is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-sensitive. Some examples:

  • Specific: increase my sales by 10% over 2014. Not specific: Improve my listing strategy.
  • Measurable: If your goal is Specific, it will also be measurable. You’ll know if you’re on track for a 10% sales increase.
  • Attainable: Exercise 30 minutes a day, three days a week. Not attainable: Run the Boston Marathon (unless, of course, you are already a marathon runner).
  • Realistic: This means you feel both willing and able to work on the goal. In your mind, you may want to be president of your firm. But are you willing to do what it takes to get there? Do you even know the steps you’ll have to take?
  • Timely: This simply means you can attach a “by when” to your goal. Will it take you three months, five years, or somewhere in between? Open-ended goals are seldom achieved.

There you have it. You took what could have been a wasted week of fooling around and kicking back and turned it into a road map for your future. Good for you. And Happy New Year!

Trust Me! Building Or Losing Trust In Client Relationships

Trust me how to build or lose trust with your clients

Trust Me! Two Words That Cut Both Ways in Client Relationships

We actually know Realtors who have this two-word motto printed on their business cards or displayed on a plaque in their office. But do they live it? How do these two little words impact their relationships with clients and colleagues?

It’s a double-edged sword: either you are building trust or you’re losing trust. You are hardly ever running in neutral.

Here are four ways to build trust and four ways you can lose trust. Some take time, some can happen in an instant.

How do you rate on these important factors?

Building Trust

  1. Say what you do, do what you say. Among other things, this means keeping your word. If you promise to deliver a client’s counter-offer in person at 8 o’clock at night in a driving rainstorm, you do it. (You don’t foolishly place yourself in danger, of course, but there are ways you can accomplish the goal or make alternative arrangements.) You always tell the truth, no matter how tough it might be. If you blew the counter-offer by not showing up, admit it and do what you can to make amends.
  2. Honor your intuition. Instinctively, you know the right thing to do in almost every situation. Do it, regardless of how uncomfortable or personally risky it might be. People will respect you when they know you’re consistently committed to doing the right thing. Mutual respect builds trust.
  3. Operate on shared goals. When you’re working with a client, make it a point to know their goals for the transaction up front. You have your goals (making the sale, closing the deal) but your ultimate goal should be a happy client. Essentially, that’s what your client wants too—a happy new home, or a happy bank account from a profitable sale. See yourself as part of the client’s team. Real team players trust each other.
  4. Follow through. In other words, see the transaction through to completion. Don’t drop the ball halfway through and expect a colleague or team member to pick up the pieces because you didn’t complete the paperwork or file the appropriate documents. One of the big problems we all have is over commitment. Before you promise to do something or show up somewhere, think about what you are saying and make sure you can deliver.

Destroying Trust

  1. Be inconsistent. If you’re Little Mary Sunshine one day and Cruella Deville the next, your clients will find it hard to communicate with you, let alone trust you. If you say one thing and do another, if you promise one thing today and something else tomorrow, trust
    will disappear like snowflakes in July.
  2. Control information. Control over information gives people a feeling of power. Sharing information about the transaction in process—the good, the bad, and the ugly—may be momentarily uncomfortable but your client will respect your openness, and together you can develop a strategy to solve whatever problems may arise.
  3. Tell the whole truth. Withholding bad news may work in the short term, but ultimately it will come back to haunt you. Lay all the cards on the table. Of course as a Realtor, you are obligated to disclose things like material defects of a property. But there may be other “gray area” factors that could negatively affect the transaction. Be up front about it, because ultimately the client will find out anyway.
  4. Tell tales. Oh, we all love to tell stories, don’t we? It’s easy to brag about the deal of the century you just closed, or the terrible client you just dumped, but these tales have a way of showing up again in the most embarrassing way. Talking behind someone’s back is a relationship-killer. Even if you have had a bad experience, it’s best to keep it to yourself. Nothing positive can come from sharing this type of information.

So where do you fit on the trust factor scale?

Thinking back over your most recent transactions and client relationships, would you say you are building trust or destroying trust? If there are specific instances where you know you’ve destroyed trust with a client, develop a plan now to make it right. If there are actions you can take to build trust, start today.