The Balancing Act: Lessons from the Other Side | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

Real estate can chew you up and spit you out, if you let it – it’s a cutthroat business.

Bobbi Howe, Keller Williams Kansas City North, knows this all too well. A second-generation REALTOR®, she learned the business by watching her top-producing REALTOR® mother excel in their community. Then, she got the call that changed the trajectory of her career – her mother had taken her life.

We must know how to deal with the stress that comes from being in this industry. At our Lessons from Real Estate Masterminds event in May, Bobbi bravely shared her story, and the lessons she’s learned about balancing your demanding career with your personal life.

Lesson 1: Work-life balance is a misnomer.

Let’s just lay it out there: there are very few times in your life that you actually have work-life balance. “There are going to be times when your life will be extremely work heavy – and it’s going to suck,” Bobbi said. “The sooner you can accept that reality, the easier it is to deal with it. But you still have to take time for other side of your life.”

Bobbi calls this the red time out button. Most people will respect and understand when you need to press pause – and those who don’t, don’t deserve to be in your life. This is important, because the purpose of business is to fund a perfect life. Bobbi’s perfect life is creating incredible life experiences with her six-year-old and her husband. Knowing that fuels her work, but it also gives her space to hit the pause button.

Lesson 2: You teach others how to treat you.

The day of her mother’s funeral, Bobbi had a client who wanted to see a house immediately. Bobbi communicated why she was unavailable and found a colleague who could accompany the client. “But Bobbi, you’re not going to be at the funeral all day.” In that moment, Bobbi realized that if she bent to their will, she would be at their beck and call forever. So, she taught them how to treat her – and they chose not to have a relationship at all.

Set those expectations. Have the conversation: if you’re looking for a 24/7 REALTOR®, I may not be for you. And then reinforce those boundaries. If you answer a text at 11:02 PM, you’ve given that person permission to text you then. Reinforce the boundary by waiting until the morning to respond. This is important – it gives you the space you need to have a life outside of real estate and permission to work with people who respect you.

Lesson 3: Your perception creates your reality.

Think about what the words you say mean. “I am” statements create your reality and your destiny. Whatever you choose to state – I’m fine, I’m tired, I’m sad, I’m happy – that’s the energy you are putting out into the world. Your brain is a powerful organ, and it can do amazing things. Let your mindset work for you.

This also applies to your business – do you have an abundance mentality, or a scarcity mentality? If you have a bad client, don’t stick with them just because you want their referrals after the transaction, or you feel like you are owed something from all the stress they’ve put you through. Everyone is the sum of the five people closest to them – do you really want referrals from someone who is terrible to you? Cut them loose, which will free you up to find people who actually want to buy and sell houses.

Lesson 4: You are a business owner. Act like one.

Are you a lead generator – and if not, how do you stay in business? The number of leads you are generating is directly proportional to whether your business is growing, steady or dying. Bobbi loves the book Cash Flow Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom, by Robert Kiyosaki. She encourages you to stop looking at yourself as a self-employed REALTOR® and start considering yourself a business.  If you want to build true wealth, it’s worth a read and will help get you started.

Lesson 5: Face your fears.

“Fear can stand for one of two things: Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Ride,” Bobbi said. What do you choose to do when fear comes at you? Bobbi reminds herself that worry is interest paid on a debt that may never become due. We are all guilty of stressing ourselves out over things that never come to bear. When we run into ceilings and life gets hard, we need to push through the pain and discover the greatness on the other side.

Lesson 6: Don’t judge your insides by other people’s outsides.

People on Facebook have one of two lives: everything is perfect, or everything is drama. The iceberg illusion is real: too often, we forget all the failure, sacrifice, disappointment, good habits and hard work that leads to success. Don’t be fooled…

Lesson 7: The struggle is real.

It’s not just a hashtag! When Bobbi’s mother died, her husband of several years didn’t even know she was on depression medication. Some of her friends called the FBI accusing him of murder, because they didn’t know the struggles she was having. Her mother never showed vulnerability and loved to pretend everything was perfect. “The sooner we accept that every single one of us has some struggle and the sooner we become transparent and vulnerable, the easier it is for all of us to heal each other,” Bobbi said.

Lesson 8: It takes a village.

It takes a village to raise a human being. We all need to know that people have our backs. But it’s hard to remember that – so don’t be afraid to ask for support if you need it. Similarly, let the people in your life know you support them, too – “because, dammit, we all need a village, whether we want to admit it or not.”

Lesson 9: Take time for those who matter most.

Bobbi is a self-admitted nerd. One of her favorite things to do is organize her paper calendar before the start of a new year. The very first things that go in there are her family vacations and one-on-one time with her son. Next, she inputs her trips with her friends – because moms need a break, too. Third, she inputs her education and schedules out her classes. The rest fills in from there, but she doesn’t let anything get in the way of those three things that matter most to her.

Lesson 10: If you can fix a problem with money, it’s not really a problem.

This is key. Some of the greatest stressors in our lives revolve around money – we have to change our mindset about it. There are a lot of problems that can’t be fixed with money, but those that can are only temporary issues. You can always go make more – especially in real estate!

Lesson 11: Travel expands you.

Bobbi says the greatest times of your life will come when you put yourself outside your comfort zone. Her mother never took trips – she just worked, and she missed out on a lot. Travel can forever change you – let it.

Lesson 12: Your health is your most valuable asset.

If you don’t have your health, none of the rest matters! It’s not only about the body – you also have to take care of your brain. Start by finding a mechanism to overcome the negative thoughts that you have about yourself.

Lesson 13: Never stop growing.

When a plant stops growing, it starts dying. It’s the same with people. Bobbi puts together a growth plan, and every month she lists three things she wants to accomplish. Usually, she runs a race and tries to read a book. Then she fills in something else – learn to knit, take a class or anything else that pushes her to continue growing. Put together your list, and see what you can accomplish.

Lesson 14: It’s not all about you.

Do you come from a place of cooperation or competition? Bobbi’s mom always approached from a place of competition. Bobbi could have put a million dollars under contract, and her mom would respond with, “Well, I put 1.5 million under.” One upping each other doesn’t help anyone. Come from a place of cooperation and giving back to one another.

Lesson 15: Never take anyone or anything for granted.

You never know what the last moment with someone will be. You never know the last words you’ll say to someone, or your last interaction. Make sure it’s a positive one.

DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: Watch Bobbi’s presentation from our spring Member Outreach below and purchase her recommended book: Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki