When I first became a Realtor fifteen years ago, I was excited about the prospect of helping so many consumers realize the “American Dream”. But, as I actually began to approach prospective clients, a terrible sinking feeling hit the pit of my stomach. I had begun to question everything that had brought me to that point. Was I really trying to help others achieve a lofty ideal, or was I just trying to make a quick buck? Was I good enough? What if a client knows more about the situation than I know? Believe me, there’s nothing quick about making money in real estate, but these questions often enter a new agents mind… veterans too! These are normal anxieties that most people experience at one time or another in their lives. It just means you’re human.
A magician will take the stage, with the intent of dazzling his audience. He makes sure his first effect is a big hit to quickly win his audience over with his demonstration of skill. After a few minutes, even the most hardnosed skeptics stop trying to catch the performer commit an error, and simply sit back and enjoy the show. The magician is delighted to know he has the audience in the palm of his hand. However, delight eventually turns to guilt. “These people actually believe I can perform miracles” the illusionist will think to himself. “My entire show is built on lies, deception and optical illusions. I’m a fraud”! It’s what magicians call the Impostor Syndrome.
The Impostor Syndrome is something often attributed to over achievers, as well as novices. An actress makes a few movies that are well received, and the performer is in high demand. She now has the means to purchase a large home with all the furnishings, as well as that fancy sports car she always wanted. Then when she considers all those other people who are without the extravagant creature comforts, she feels guilty for her success. To alleviate the negativity, she offers to work FOR a worthy charity. This is a wonderful way to channel the energy into a positive. She then receives worldwide acclaim for her good works, and again, feels guilty for receiving the notoriety. She then rationalizes in order to find peace; she needs to lash out AGAINST something… anything. This explains why we have so much social commentary from the Hollywood elite these days.
What the magician’s audience doesn’t see is the countless hours researching, studying, and practicing in front of a mirror to get each and every effect just right. He will also experiment with different methods, and ask for guidance from other professionals. Similarly, a brand new real estate agent devotes themselves to their craft. Consider the hundred hours of formal training one must attend in order to achieve his or her license. Respect the fact most people would not endure sitting through the classes, studying for the test, taking the test (maybe more than once) and subscribe to an code of ethics in order to call themselves; Realtor. Yet, we feel ashamed if a member of the general public states information they found on Zillow or Trulia that they say is contrary to our research and professional opinion. One should never question their own abilities when confronted by those who are not willing to put in the hard work.
The magician is not paid to perform “miracles”, he’s paid to ENTERTAIN, which is what he does. Similarly, an agent is not compensated for “knowing everything”, but rather to research a specific situation to help the clients achieve their goals. Still, there are some things we can do to overcome a fraud complex. First, understand by being committed to your industry, you already know a lot more than you may think. Second, when someone pays you a compliment, accept it. “Thank you” is an appropriate response. Also, fresh knowledge by way of continual training and keeping up with current industry issues is a good way to kill off the “impostor” inside. When it all said and done, you are a professional with a conscience. After all, a true con artist never has an issue with integrity, or the lack thereof. So, remind yourself, you are there to help consumers realize the “American Dream”.