We are all dealing with the learning curve in all areas of our lives. The question is where we are on that curve? We have to use the learning curve to our advantage to create a greater return. We also need to be careful that we don’t over expose ourselves to it by trying to engage in the steepest part of the curve too frequently.
There is a rule we all need to understand regarding the learning curve: Everything is hard before it becomes easy.
The amount of effort we must put forth to climb the learning curve is substantial. When my daughter, Annabelle, was thirteen months old she was trying to walk, and the effort she was putting out was large. Her return had been limited to bonks on the head, plops on her rear end, and a few shuffles with her feet by hanging onto anything she could get her hands on to maintain her balance. She was at the steepest part of the learning curve at that time. I could see it in her face; she would get frustrated at times. The lack of success in walking like her four-year-old brother, Wesley, got to her attitude once in a while. She was committed to overcoming this challenge of life. In the few months following she was over the steepest part where the effort dropped and the return was constant and had improved. It just took her time; like for all of us.
There are two mistakes I frequently see as a coach and trainer of people. Both of these mistakes prove to be equally detrimental to an agent’s success. The first is not “sticking it out” and being persistent enough to continue to climb to the top where it becomes easier. We often get frustrated and quit. This often happens when we are close to the summit of the learning curve. The reason we quit is because we are not tracking our progress during the climb. We don’t, for example, see the increase in lead generation because we are only looking at the number of listings or the commission income. Since we are not tracking the baby steps, only the scoreboard of commission, we miss our progress. This makes it difficult to gauge where we actually are on the learning curve. We might be approaching the top, but we don’t know it.
We must keep our tools for success clearly focused and in front of us daily. When we don’t have our objectives in clear focus, the trials that come will sometimes overwhelm us. They will often cause us to stumble and quit before we obtain our objective. Don’t allow yourself to be side tracked by adversity.
Let me share this story with you. Florence Chadwick wanted to be the first woman to swim the English Channel. For years she trained and disciplined herself to keep going long after her body needed rest. When the big day arrived to challenge the channel, things went well until she neared the coast of England, where heavy fog and cold, rough waters impeded her progress. Not realizing she was within a few hundred yards of the shore, she became completely exhausted and quit swimming. Think about it…she quit a few hundred yards from her goal after swimming miles! She was heartbroken when she found out how close she was to accomplishing her goal. She was quoted by reporters saying, “I’m not offering excuses, but I think I would have made it if I would have been able to see my goal.”
She tried again after she developed a mental image of England and the coastline. She memorized every feature of the distant landscape and held it firmly and clearly in her mind. Again she was hindered by fog, frigid water, and high turbulent seas, but this time she accomplished her objective. The reason she was able to accomplish it was because she never lost sight of it. It was in her mind’s eye the whole way across.
Amazing things can and do happen when we keep our objective in sight. Don’t lose sight of yours. Even losing sight for one day could cost many of you thousands of dollars in lost revenue for your business.
When we lose sight of the learning curve, it can cause us to leap prematurely to another one that we feel holds better promise. One of the failures of salespeople is that they don’t do anything long enough to fully understand and test the progress and results of their effort. We leap to what seems like the latest and greatest thing – the “new gimmick” for success, wealth, happiness, and prosperity.
The late night infomercial industry was founded to take advantage of these feelings. A recent study determined that 80% of the infomercials on television could be categorized as get rich quick or weight loss. Both of these types of infomercials are designed and produced to lead us to believe that their results are easy with no effort; that, in effect, they have flattened the learning curve to nothing; so success, results, income, wealth, and quality of life are guaranteed. This is certainly faulty thinking.
The second mistake I see agents make is they have too many leaning curves going at once. We are attacking the steepest part of the curves on 4, 5, 6, or even 10 learning curves at once. This is a clear and distinctive recipe for disaster. To try to wage war on too many battle fronts spreads your troops too thin.
Our ability to focus always precedes our success. Focusing, testing, practicing, and perfecting our systems, skills, attitude, knowledge, and activities will speed our climb to the top of the learning curve. I often meet agents who make the commitment to prospect, but they want to prospect their past clients, sphere of influence, FSBOs, and start a geographic farm. My response is always the same. If you want to fail and be frustrated, proceed forward with your plan. Why not spend the next 90 to 120 days perfecting your relationship, connection, and contact with your past clients and sphere of influence. They hold similarities in how you contact them, raise your connection and intimacy level with them, and add value and serve them. Don’t do anything other than focus on these two. That’s enough of a learning curve for anyone.
Once you hit the back side of the learning curve, and your effort needed starts to drop (and your results are consistent or growing), then you can implement another new revenue stream. You can’t do it all at once. We generally over estimate what we can do in a day or a week or even a quarter. We underestimate what we can accomplish in six months, a year, or even three to five years. You’re going to be in the business anyway; there is no such thing as an overnight sensation or instant success.