Thoughts on Leadership: Leveraging Change

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me traveling to Dallas on Monday to participate in a HomeServices leadership meeting, then flying home Tuesday evening to attend meetings for the rest of the week. And of course, earlier this morning, I sat down to write this post to you.

Today I want to talk about change. When HomeServices was founded in 1998, it was on a mission to do things differently: to change the brokerage model and to embrace an ongoing commitment to innovation. That mission has led to years of financial success and a legacy that’s unstoppable, and that 1998 mindset is one we must still embrace today.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: Leveraging Change

Twenty-five years ago, the world was much different. To give you an idea, here’s what life in 1998 was like:

  • Top movie: Titanic (no reflection on today’s real estate market)
  • Top TV show: ER (no reflection on today’s interest rates)

The top Fortune 500 companies changed a lot, too. In 1998, General Motors, Ford Motors and Exxon ranked in the top 3, respectively. Today, the top 3 Fortune 500 companies include Walmart, Amazon, and Apple. Do you know how many of the top 10 companies from 1998 made the list today? Two. In fact, Google was founded on September 4, 1998! A total of 179 of the current Fortune 500 companies didn’t exist in 1998, and more than half – exactly 291 – of those Fortune 500 companies on the 1998 list are no longer in business today.

In life and in business, there will always be someone who’s better. There will always be another level to achieve your stretch goal. Please understand that your stretch goal is someone else’s baseline … but the truth is, you should have a baseline that’s a standard people can’t even aspire to achieve. You should have goals so big they scare you, goals that the person reading (or writing) these words right now doesn’t even yet have the capacity to achieve.

Every goal you accomplish in your life means that you have become a better version of yourself to achieve it. And that means setting a standard higher than anyone else’s. There will always be another level. There is no “I’ve arrived.” That’s when complacency sets in. Complacency is the most insidious disease in the world. It just sits up on your shoulder and says, “Everything’s fine, I’m doing great. No need to improve.” That’s when we stop learning. That’s when we stop growing.

To prevent complacency, here’s how adopting the mindset of embracing change has defined HomeServices over the last 25 years:

Number 1 – Know that there’s always somebody who is playing at a higher level. There’s somebody who is creating distance from you, and your job is to catch up and pass them. You must create goals that inspire you to become even more than you are right now.

Number 2 – Find mentors. A mentor will take you from where you are today to somewhere entirely new. They’ll move you in ways you can’t move yourself. And a mentor doesn’t have to be a physical person standing in front of you or someone texting you every day. It can be a book, a podcast, an article you read online or a YouTube video. Mentors don’t have to know they’re mentoring you to do it. For me, Earl Nightingale was a mentor with his recording of “The Strangest Secret.” John Wooden was a mentor of mine with his pyramid of success, which became the foundation for the Intero Value Pyramid. Jim Collins became a mentor with his book, “From Good to Great,” which was integral to the original vision of Intero. Jim Rohn became a mentor. Brian Tracy became a mentor. Zig Ziglar, Anthony (Tony) Robbins, Jack Welch, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Warren Buffett, Greg Abel … you must have mentors in your life because you must have leaders in your life who have been where you want to go.

Number 3 – Remember that inspirational discontentment is your friend. You will never make any dramatic change in your life until you become so upset with where you are that you finally do the things you’ve been avoiding doing. When you’re discontented enough, you will do them. You can complete all the busy work in the world, but as Jim Rohn would say: “Never mistake activity for achievement.” Once you become frustrated enough with your life, you’ll make the significant changes necessary to become better and finish the work you’ve been avoiding. Inspirational discontentment is not a setback, it’s a tool for transformation beyond your wildest dreams.

Number 4 – Commit to doing the work. The people who have made it to the top – superstars, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, activists, athletes – they outworked, out sacrificed, outgrew, and out hustled everyone around them.

This is our season of change. To get better for our agents. Our offices. Our teams. Our clients. Our family. Ourselves. Managing change is a myth. Who would want to manage change? That’s like managing fear. We must leverage and harness the power of change. In Jim Rohn’s famous “The Set of the Sail” speech, he talks about how all of us are on a little sailboat and it’s not the blowing of the wind, but the set of the sail that will determine where we go.

The same wind blows on all of us – the winds of disaster, favorable winds, unfavorable winds, political winds, social winds, economic winds … it’s all the same. Where we arrive doesn’t depend on the winds, it depends on the set of our sail. We can set our sail in the same direction, or we can set it in a better direction. It’s entirely up to us. We can correct the errors of the past and develop new disciplines for the future. And anyone can do this. There’s no law or rule that says one person can do this and another can’t. It’s about wanting to make the change, getting so fired up about your current sail that you know in your heart you must go somewhere new. Jim Rohn says, “For things to change you have to change.” It’s why you meet new people. It’s why you’re reading these weekly posts and why I listen to new books and podcasts every day. I try to learn one thing new every day.

Together, we must be committed to changing our thinking in a way that will change our lives. Jim Rohn says, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”

So, what’s the message? The challenges you face today provide you with the wisdom necessary to grow. You can’t fly without gravity, just as you can’t achieve your goals without leveraging the difficulty, the struggle, the complexities, and the knowledge that comes from the ever-present winds of change.

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