Virtue is a word that seems a bit outdated – it sounds almost Victorian, reminiscent of a time when clothes covered every inch of skin, gentlemen wore bowler hats, horse-drawn buggies cluttered the streets and cultural behavior was radically changed. different than what we live today.
In fact, virtue is just as relevant today as it ever was. In fact, I believe you cannot run a successful real estate business without understanding and practicing the fundamental virtues: prudence, courage, faith, hope, charity, temperance and justice.
Theologian Richard Foster, defining “virtue” more precisely, states: “Put simply, virtue is good habits that we can rely on to make our lives work. (Conversely, vice is a bad habit we can rely on to keep our lives from working.) When the ancient writers spoke of “a virtuous life”, they were referring to a life that works, a life that works well.
We have previously spoken of caution. In this article, we will examine courage.
As a child, the word courage conjured up images of a well-fortified medieval castle with towers, a keep, a drawbridge, vast ramparts, parapets, surrounded by a moat and able to confront and resist any attack. Conceptually, I was close: fortitude can be defined as “the mental and emotional strength to courageously face difficulty, adversity, danger or temptation”.
A double meaning
Foster also has some key thoughts on strength: “Strength actually has a double meaning, or maybe two separate aspects of the same meaning. First, it means courage, bravery, valor, heroism. You know, all those qualities that are kind of old-fashioned these days, but that we really hope the person next to us has when the chips are down.
“The second meaning is endurance, tenacity, perseverance. It is this ability to stay with a task in the midst of all imaginable discouragement and setbacks. Courage and endurance – it is this great combination that is summed up in the virtue of fortitude.
Courage, bravery, valor and heroism are synonymous with the ability to act positively by overcoming fear and reacting positively in the moment. We often think of courage as the absence of fear – it could actually be defined as recklessness.
Instead, it’s about overcoming the fear that would prevent others in the same situation from reacting positively. This can best be illustrated by the actions of 911 firefighters who, as others fled the disaster, embraced the danger, put aside their fears and headed inland. None of these firefighters left the comfort of their beds that September morning with the goal of becoming a hero.
Martin Luther King Jr. said it best when he said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenges and controversy.”
A test of courage
Simply put, if you work in real estate for a while, your mettle will be tested. For many agents, this comes in the form of an ethical dilemma: it could be something a client asks you to do that would be reckless or even unethical, or a situation where doing the right thing could result in lost business. It could be putting a client’s needs ahead of your personal income needs.
I know of a team leader who fired his top performing agent who was known to bend the boundaries of acceptability to “get the job done”. Other agents have found themselves in the midst of natural disasters such as firestorms that devastated Northern California communities, tornadoes in the Midwest, hurricanes such as Katrina, major flooding and more.
Their unpremeditated responses in those crises where they put the needs of others ahead of their own, even while experiencing personal loss, revealed their true character. A crisis does not create a hero, it simply reveals the character that already inhabits it, which, put to the test, emerges on its own.
Navigate the Storm
Endurance, tenacity and perseverance are akin to sailing in the eye of the storm instead of huddled safely in the harbor. Instead of taking the safe path, he pays the necessary cost to hang on to something difficult and hang on until it’s done.
Watching the Winter Olympics, it’s easy to forget that competitors in events that only take a few minutes have spent countless months in intensive preparation.
Former Olympic alpine skier Jim Hunter, the son of a dairy farmer in rural Saskatchewan, Canada, faced unique challenges. Having lived in Saskatchewan myself, I can attest to the fact that it lacks something very important to training a world-class skier: the mountains. Or even hills, for that matter. The Canadian prairies are, for the most part, flat as a pancake.
To hone his racing game, Jim built a rig that he mounted on his dad’s truck and then strapped to it while his dad drove at speeds in excess of 60 mph over varying terrain. His perseverance earned him a bronze medal in alpine skiing at the 1972 World Championships, the first men’s alpine medal in Canadian skiing history. He has also reached the World Cup platform twice in his career.
Anyone who has built a successful career in real estate knows that stamina, tenacity, and perseverance can equal lead generation. Many agents will do anything but devote the time and energy to learn the fundamental skills required to be successful. They will pay tons of money to lead generation platforms like Zillow which usually have very low conversion rates but won’t take the time and effort to build their own database which not only comes at a cost minimal but, in the case of our team, consistently represents more than 50% of our activity year after year.
The practice of scripts comes to mind. Knocking on doors, making cold calls, prospecting in a circle – it all takes time, effort and consistency. You must master the mundane to succeed in the important. Imagine sailing through a storm in a two-masted schooner without ever having taken the time to master the skills needed to mindlessly control sails.
Get up, dust yourself off and start again
Finally, courage can be described as the ability to get back on your feet after failure. Dust yourself off, learn from the mistake and start over. Thomas Edison and the light bulb come to mind. If a famous American hadn’t continually picked himself up after every defeat, our country would be radically different today.
This person, in 1832, lost his job and was defeated for the state legislature; in 1833, failed in business; in 1835, his beloved died; in 1836, he had a nervous breakdown; in 1838, defeated for Speaker of the State House; in 1843 defeated for congressional nomination; in 1848, renomination lost; in 1849, rejected for land officer; in 1854, defeated for the United States Senate; in 1856 defeated for the nomination for vice-president; in 1858, defeated for the United States Senate. But, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Courage: It may be an old-fashioned word, but it’s never been more relevant as we navigate through a pandemic, changing markets and a world full of uncertainty on all fronts.
Carl Medford is the CEO of Team Medford.