By Debbie Hanlon

Two people looked through prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars.

That little rhyme and its meaning was brought home to me last week and took me back to something that happened when I first got into this wonderful world of real estate. Now, it didn’t take me back to big hair or leggings if that’s what you’re wondering. It took me back to something someone once told me that made me realize the power of perception. On a Wednesday after lunch at a local restaurant I ran into Brian, a good friend of Kelly, an agent I used to coach a few years back. (Not their real names.)

He told me about the recent successful sale of his house. Kelly must be happy, I told him, assuming he had used his good friend who was still active the business. He said he had actually used another agent and I asked him why.

Well, he explained, he had run into Kelly at a party when he was first considering selling and had asked her how things were going. She gave him a litany of complaints – the market was no good, houses weren’t selling, no one was buying, the banks weren’t giving mortgages and on and on she went. By the time she had finished selling him on what a terrible time it was in real estate, Brian had made his mind up that she wasn’t the person he wanted selling his house.



The exchange between Brian and me triggered my own memory of Kelly from many years before that made me wonder why she was still even in the business. Early in my career after I’d made it to No. 1 in Canada in my national franchise, I started coaching other agents. Kelly was one of my first students and even back then she was as negative as a battery missing one post. Nothing was good with Kelly and no matter how I tried to convince her, she never bought into the fact that most of the time the problems we encounter have more to do with our perception than the reality of the situation. How we choose to see things helps determine what those things become.

Brian explained how he had met another agent, (let’s call him Bill) just days after his encounter with Kelly. When he asked Bill the same question he’d asked Kelly you’d have thought the guy was selling houses in another part of the world. Things were great, business was unbelievable, the market was active, he was busy moving inventory, there are always buyers and there are always sellers and my job is to introduce the two, he exclaimed. By the time he was halfway through selling what a brilliant time it was in real estate, Brian had made his mind up that this was the person he wanted selling his house.

Now Kelly and Bill were talking about the same thing, the same market, the same buyers and sellers but you’d never know that if you listen to them both talk. The difference was their perception of the reality they were dealing with and their perception became their reality. Kelly thought things were bad and didn’t even get a chance to do a presentation let alone list the property, thereby proving to herself that she was right. Bill thought things were great and he got the listing, which proved to him that things were just the way he perceived them.

That happens more often than you might think in our everyday lives. If you wake up thinking the day is going to be a certain way, chances are that’s the way it’ll be.

Normally this doesn’t cost us financially but it can cause headaches, annoyance and an all round crappy day, but when you’re in the business of selling it can cost you a whole lot more. It can cost you clients.

You sell yourself every time you talk to people. You sell them on the idea of selling. You sell a reality they want to hear. You sell them a comfortable feeling that you’re the best agent for the job. Anything less and all you do is sell yourself short.

Kelly is making living from real estate but not a life. Each deal is a struggle, each day a battle. All she sees is the mud around her simply because she won’t look up and see the stars.

Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.

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