The mediocrity trap | Gil Davis | RP DataAre you doing as well as you should? It is a confronting question because few of us want to admit we are under-performing, and certainly it is not something to be telling the boss. But nonetheless it is an important question that everyone needs to ask themselves, and the answer may surprise.

Of course some people know they are putting in a sub-par performance. For whatever reason, they are not motivated or have other priorities. That is up to them. I am speaking to those of you who think you are doing OK and asking you to interrogate yourselves.

The first task is to set some objective performance measures. These include how many appraisals you go to each week, what proportion you list, how many you sell, and the average time of sale. You could extend this to canvassing activities, average commissions and advertising budgets. The key is to find measures which compare your best performance with others, and crucially with yourself.

The second task is to analyse what you were doing when you did your best, and compare it with your activity at other times.

Having got to this point, the third and final task is to decide what you can do about it. There are many possible answers, but my big five are:

  1. Not making excuses. You may be surprised that I rank this number 1, but in my experience it is clearly the most important factor. It is so easy to blame circumstances allegedly beyond your control – [s]he already knew the vendor; [s]he offered to pay advertising; [s]he over-quoted – than face the fact you lost. Why did you lose? You weren’t good enough. What are you going to do to make sure you never lose again?!!! (Build a trusting relationship at the appraisal; explain to the vendor how [s]he will sell for more with proper advertising; get the vendor involved in setting the price so [s]he isn’t susceptible to over-quoting).
  2. How do approach your activities on a daily, weekly, monthly basis so you are allocating proportionately the right time to the necessary activities. A crucial part of this is avoidance of distraction. It is so easy to mistake activity for productivity.
  3. Nobody knows it all. Even the best in the world need to learn and be challenged by new ideas and new approaches. It is seductively simple to keep on doing things the way you always have. Think of the boiling frog syndrome and don’t catch on too late, especially in the application of technological change.
  4. Setting the bar higher. Most people have a level they are subconsciously happy with. It never ceased to frustrate me when I ran my agency how a terrific salesperson could reach a certain level of sales in a quarter and visibly stop trying to do more. In their minds, they had done as well as they could. You have to be continually setting your bar for personal achievement at a higher level. Don’t stop when you’re ahead. Forge on and amaze yourself. Lift your personal expectations.
  5. What keeps you doing this job? Money of course, but I hope it is especially passion to help people and the thrill of winning.

The only thing standing in the way of greater success is you. Don’t be mediocre at anything. Be the best ‘you’ that you possibly can and make the most of your life.

Dr Gil Davis is now a university lecturer, but for twenty-five years he was one of Australia’s most successful real estate agents. He wrote the top-selling book Sell for More, packed full of useful tips for agents, which you can purchase on-line through Harper Collins.