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Changing Your Business is Scary—Here’s How to Handle It

mindset Feb 03, 2024

This week, I’ve got something a little different for you: I want to show you what happens behind the scenes of this blog.

Every week, I do an interview with Madison Fitzpatrick. She’s the writer who helped create all my books, starting with The Full Fee Agent, and who continues to channel my voice for the blog, the website, and more. 

It’s like magic—I give her a 30-minute brain dump, and she spins it into the emails you read every week. After three years of working together, I hardly have to explain myself at all anymore. She knows my philosophy and my teachings as well as anyone.

This week, we both sat down with Mary Premtaj, an agent who has been in this business for over 20 years and who started coaching with me about 9 months ago. She’s going through the same struggle I see so many agents dealing with: what she’s learning at Performance Coaching resonates with her deeply, but it has also shaken the foundations of her business, and that feels scary and overwhelming. 

Here’s what she shared about what it feels like to go through that process and how she copes with it. (The conversation has been edited for length and clarity. You can also watch the 5-minute highlight reel or see the full interview.)

Madison: Mary, tell us about how you got to this point in your career and why you reached out to Steve in the first place.

Mary: I got into real estate 22 years ago, after working on Wall Street for 10 years. I worked very hard, and I got pretty good results. Eventually I was able to hire an assistant to run my office. My transactions were on an upward trajectory—25, 32, 37, 42…all the way up to 66. But by that point, I was so tired. I thought, I can’t possibly do this.

I started looking for a coach, but no one was resonating with me. It just felt like they were all trying to get me to work harder, or redo the listing presentation that I had already nailed.

Then I saw Steve at the Compass retreat in Atlanta last year. Everything he said made so much sense to me, so I started coaching with him one-on-one. That’s where things started getting shaky—I had to reevaluate everything that had become second nature to me. I realized that my business really was in chaos, and even though I thought I was good at handling that, I really wasn’t. 

I had to go back and rebuild from the beginning. Throughout this process, I had to keep asking myself whether I was coachable. I thought I was, but there was resistance because it was scary to give up my old habits that were “proven.” 

Madison: Do you feel that since you started coaching, you’ve made some progress in addressing the resistance and fear?

Mary: I have made amazing progress with the tangible things like creating processes and working on my CRM. Those are tasks, and even if it feels hard, I can wrap my head around that. I’m a worker bee, and I know how to get tasks done.

The part I didn’t expect is the mental and emotional stuff. I can learn the Tactical Empathy dialogues and write them down and practice them out loud, but when I get in the conversation with a client, I feel so scared. It’s a constant struggle to let go of fear and trusting the process.

Madison: Steve, what’s your take on this?

Steve: This is what happens when you wake up 20 years into it and realize working harder is not the answer. It’s not feeding your soul, it’s not consistent with who you are…you’re on this treadmill to nowhere, but it’s even scarier to get off. Even though these new ideas might resonate with you, the old way is second nature. It takes real guts and determination to let go of what you’ve done and open up to a new way of looking at the world. 

Mary is looking 10 years down the road and realizing the path she’s on isn’t going to work. If she’s tired now, how is she gonna feel in 10 years? Does she want to end her career exhausted, with her last deal being her last paycheck?

This is what I want people to hear because they’re fed this bag of nonsense that selling more will magically make everything okay. It’s not. Mary is articulating the feeling of virtually every agent who is at this moment in their career. She’s coming to grips with what she needs to do to make the next 10 years really count.

Mary: This is just like any big change I’ve had to go through in life. Change is not in our nature as humans. I have to be so uncomfortable with the way it is that the only option is to change. During the change process, I feel untethered, and it’s so scary, but it’s scarier to go back. That’s where I keep going back to mindset and realize I have to trust in what I’ve identified to be the right path. I am uncomfortable all day every day, and I hate it, but I can’t go back.

Madison: Do you trust that if you continue to sit in this discomfort, it will become okay?

Mary: I have to just breathe through it. If I hold on to the fear—which I sometimes do—I lose my emotional stability, and the change process starts to overwhelm me. That’s when I have to remember what Steve told us last week: like Arthur Ashe said, start where you are. Sometimes I feel like I wasted the last 22 years, and that’s painful, but I have to set that thought aside and start where I am.

Steve: This soul-searching is absolutely necessary, or nothing will ever change. Now, Mary is in the perfect position to receive coaching. The natural tendency is to try to tackle all this at once, but you’re not going to master the six building blocks overnight. The coaching guides her through it step by step so she can make these last 10 years of her career count.

Mary: It’s a lot to tackle, and I like to get everything done yesterday, but I have to have patience.

Steve: That comes from the “work harder” strategy that served her so well for so long, but that strategy has a limit. Mary is going through what all top agents have to go through to move away from that paradigm and into a new one that’s sustainable and scalable. 

As Chris Voss always says, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. It’s the classic definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That’s where everyone is, whether they admit it or not. At least Mary has the courage to say, I’ve got to do something different. And yes, it’s going to feel overwhelming—until it doesn’t. That’s what the coaching is all about.

Madison: Mary, what would you say to someone who is coming into the Performance Coaching community and feeling overwhelmed by what they’re learning?

Mary: First of all, I would ask why they’re here. You have to really want to change and believe in what Steve is teaching, or you’ll find a thousand excuses not to do any of it, and it will be a waste of time. 

And second, just be aware that this is not for the faint of heart. You have to be mentally prepared for lots of discomfort. Be ready for it.

Madison: As you say, there’s lots of discomfort, but do you also have moments of feeling validated or successful, even in a small way?

Mary: There are little wins that keep me going, especially with process. It feels great, like getting a big glass of water when you’re really thirsty. But I also know that even without that, I have the conviction that I’m on the right path.

Steve: I think Mary has found the truth, and when that happens, you don’t have a choice. She’s all in, and now she’s just figuring out how to execute it.

Mary: What’s so paramount for me is the resources—the support from Steve and the other people at Performance Coaching. I would imagine that this is what it must feel like for someone who is addicted to something. Breaking old habits is like breaking an addiction. You can’t detox alone. You need other people to help you through the process.  That’s the advice I would give to anyone going through this process: line up your resources so you know that when you start feeling shaky, someone will be there to help you out.

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