BY ARI LAHDEKORPI
My uncle Tuure was a bit of a jack‑of‑all‑trades. He was a backyard mechanic and a lumberjack, to name just two of his many talents. Once when I was viewing his array of tools in his garage, I asked him what was his most important tool. I thought he might hold up his trusty Husquvarna chainsaw….but instead he pulled out a chainsaw file. Noting my puzzled look, he said that without his file, his chainsaws would be useless.
Another time he was working under one of his favourite Chryslers and I asked him what was the most important part of a motor. He pointed to the gas can and said, “Nothing runs without da gas.”
As salespeople, we also have an important tool that might seem unlikely. It is the tool that sharpens all of our other tools of the trade. It is also the ingredient that provides us with the fuel to move forward in our work. That tool is optimism!
The root of the English word “optimism” comes from the ancient Greek word, “opthalmos”.
From the same root come the following words: opt, to make a choice; optic, pertaining to vision; optimal, most favourable or desired; optimize, to use most effectively; and option, the act of choosing.
Optimism itself is defined by Webster as “a disposition to expect the best possible outcome or to emphasize the positive aspects of a situation.”
The best and most effective salespeople take advantage of their “option” and use “optics” to establish a personal vision. They “opt” to make the choices based on their vision. Then they develop an “optimal” plan to realize their vision. None of these actions would occur without the initial optimism that gives the energy, encouragement, and creativity to forge ahead.
Optimism offers a great many benefits to the salesperson. It results in greater confidence. It will motivate. It can increase one's personal impact on the world around them. It improves focus. And having a healthy optimism has even been proven to improve a person's health.
The question is, if optimism is so beneficial and so important to sales success, why are there so many pessimistic Realtors ? That is an answer that must be found in each individual.
However, here are some possible causes for a chronic case of pessimism:
1) Belief that a pessimistic view is a “realistic” view. Consider this quote from Fredrick Langbridge: “Two men look out through the same bars….one sees the mud, the other sees the stars.” While the reality of the two prisoners is identical, which one has the most likelihood of making the most of the situation, and indeed improving his situation? The answer is clear. Pessimism has the ability to suppress creative thought and motivation.
2) Sometimes a tendency to be negative stems from the “scripting” of childhood. Habits of thought can form through childhood and continue on into adult life. The encouraging thing about “scripting” is that once it is seen for what it is, it can be changed.
3) The influence of the attitudes of the media, or those around us can help feed pessimism. When we associate with a “coffee club” that spends most of its time complaining, it doesn't take long for that attitude to rub off. We are a tribal people, and having common ground is very important for the development of friends and a sense of belonging. However, when that commonality revolves around common dislikes or negative attitudes, it can infect the otherwise positive-minded person. Racism is just one of the examples of this type of influence.
4) The term “catastrophizing” is used in describing another form of chronic pessimism. When one sees the troubles before them as bigger than they are, or imagines only the worst events occurring, all optimism is suppressed. Superstitions like “bad things come in threes” are an example of the “catastrophizing” mindset. Troubles will not overwhelm you when they are taken in perspective. Don't make mountains out of molehills.
5) Pessimism feeds on itself. Some look to using it as a tool for gaining attention and pity — “Aunt Martha is enjoying bad health these days.”
So then how do we develop an optimistic attitude? Here are some tips:
1) Count your blessings. We as Canadians are all blessed beyond what we can understand. Sometimes we need to step back and appreciate what we have. Thinking of those less fortunate can help put things into perspective. One of my favourite quotes comes from Helen Keller. Here was a woman who was both deaf and blind, and yet she received a college degree and wrote several books — all at a time when women couldn't even vote! She said: “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” Wow.
2) Develop “big picture” thinking. Perspective in all situations is needed. When sales are down, remember that things run in cycles and the rebound will come as long as you work in a constructive manner. Focusing on the negative only serves to sap your energy and keep
you down longer.
3) Spend time with positive influences. Read books about positive subjects. Watch inspiring films and documentaries.
4) Recount your own successes in life. It's easy to forget the fact that you've been to the top of the mountain when you are stuck in the valley. But keeping that memory in your vision will help you to continue your climb.
5) Exercise and treat yourself. The physical condition can affect the psychological, and vice versa. Make sure you take care of “the machinery” so you can continue with a positive outlook.
6) When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
7) Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. Sometimes the boat you miss is the Titanic!
The most important tool for any professional, including Realtors, is the one that sharpens and propels all the other machinery. In sales, that tool is optimism!
Ari Lahdekorpi is Broker of Real TV Realty Inc. in Thunder Bay, Ont. Email: [email protected]‑tv.com