In my previous article titled, You Better Have a Post Covid-19 Game Plan. I mentioned three things:
- We need to develop a game plan. As Dwight Eisenhower, the Allied Supreme Commander for Europe during World War II once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” By that he meant planning serves a useful purpose: It defines our goal, which is critical to our eventual success.
- Much of what is going on at the moment is completely out of our control. But we do have control over one very critical aspect of our lives: our minds. We can choose to focus on a healthy mindset. For example, we can focus on the crisis or we can focus on the heroes who are putting their lives at risk helping us.
- Our plan should begin by protecting and feeding our minds. We should protect our minds from listening too much negative news about the harmful effects of COVID-19. And instead we should feed our minds on content that encourages and inspires us to action.
Those of us who work in real estate sales or some related field, such as finance, title and escrow, legal, etc, have been and will continue to be particularly hard hit by the dramatic slowdown in the economy. But there are five time-proven principles that you should consider adding to your post COVID-19 game plan.
1. Go Back to the Basics
For those of us in any kind of sales profession, we learned the critical importance of marketing ourselves when we got started. It wasn’t easy, but we learned to make those telephone calls or attended those networking meetings where we met potential customers for our business. We learned the hard way that our ultimate success was dependent almost solely on how many marketing contacts we made each week.
But when times are good, which they have been for many years, we slowly drift away from the discipline of making those marketing contacts, instead relying on satisfied clients to refer business back to us.
Now the phone has stopped ringing. What do we do? We go back and do what made us successful in the first place. In a slow economy like this, marketing ourselves becomes more critical than ever.
2. Stay Absolutely Focused
At the beginning of every year my wife and I go to the beach for a weekend to plan for the year. We prepare questions about our personal and professional lives that we ask ourselves, reflect on, and discuss with each other. It’s like developing our personal game plan for the year.
Ask yourself, “What one thing do I need to do this year that will best help me survive this economic slowdown? Identify it, and forget all the other things that are begging for your time and effort but which are simply distractions to the bigger picture.
3. Be 100% Committed to Your Career
I had a friend, years ago, when I was first starting out as a commercial mortgage broker. We both were struggling to pay the bills and at that point in our careers we were wondering if we were going to make it or not.
I remember him saying that if this did not work out he had another lucrative opportunity with a newly established dot-com company. He asked me what my plans were if I didn’t succeed at being a commercial mortgage broker. I told him I had no other plans.
My choice was to succeed as a commercial mortgage broker or fail miserably and utterly. There was no other alternative. Because I knew the consequences of failure I eventually succeeded. It was a difficult struggle and took years to be successful but giving up was not an option for me. On the other hand, my friend was out of the business within a year and the opportunity with the dot-com company never materialized.
The lesson to be learned is this: It is very difficult to succeed in any profession or any endeavor if you are not 100% committed to it. In today’s economy that principle is truer than ever. Some may view having another job waiting in the wings as a prudent safety net should their current job not pan out. In reality, it’s a recipe for failure.
4. If Necessary, Redefine Yourself
Sometimes after you go through the self-assessment process you realize you’re not the problem, the market is. No matter how good you may be at differentiating yourself from your competition, there may not be enough remaining market share left to make a living, no matter how good you are at your profession. If that is true for you, redefine yourself by finding a new market niche within your profession.
With every change in the economy there are winners and losers. Find those clients who are in the most financial pain resulting from the poor economy. They are the ones in need of assistance and they are motivated to make changes in their current situations. Then find a market niche that helps those who are in financial distress. Follow the pain!
5. Don’t Give Up
In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins refers to the Stockdale Paradox, named after Vice Admiral James Stockdale. Stockdale is one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the United States Navy. In 1965, he led aerial attacks from the carrier USS Ticonderoga. His plane was shot down over enemy territory, he was captured, and he spent years in a North Vietnamese prison. While in prison he encouraged his men to retain their absolute faith that they would prevail in the end regardless of their difficulties AND at the same time to confront the most brutal facts of their current reality.
Do the same thing:
- Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties you face.
- At the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
In his classic book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino spoke eloquently about the importance of persisting through adversity. His book tells the story of Hafid, a poor camel boy who longs to learn the secrets of salesmanship. One of the ten secret scrolls reveals to him that to succeed in life requires the character quality of perseverance. The scroll states,
“I was not delivered into this world in defeat, nor does failure course through my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be led to the slaughter. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep.”
When all else fails, that attitude can carry us through many, many difficult times. Don’t give up, no matter what.
Let’s work hard so as not to become the economy’s next victim
In summary, there is an old African proverb that may say it best:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.
We need to have the same attitude as the lion and the gazelle – let’s run as hard as we can so as not to become the economy’s next victim. To do so will likely require adopting a game plan that is different than doing “business as usual” which will likely not work in the post COVID-19 economy. Improve your chances of still being around when the economy rebounds by adopting the business principle that’s most appropriate to your specific situation.
I am confident that weathering this economic perfect storm will prove us to be more resilient than we could have ever hoped or imagined.