Integrity in Real Estate (Lockdown Reflections, Pt. 1)
Wherever we go in life, the people around us shape us. It's human nature. We want to please others, to fit in, to succeed. Yet, integrity is often defined as demonstrating your moral convictions and ethics through your actions. Great leaders are those who are able to do this, and who shape the ethos of their organizations through their actions.
I used to work for a company where the unofficial motto was "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." By and large the people with whom I was fortunate to work acted accordingly, and with great levels of integrity. Since leaving that place, I have worked in a few other organizations and witnessed that in some cases people in higher level positions have attained and/or retained those positions through less honest means: throwing people under the bus, taking credit for others' ideas, showing favoritism and bullying. I accepted this as part of the business dynamic - until I couldn't anymore. I found myself unmotivated to achieve or try to progress in my career because I did not want to surround myself with people like that or, even worse, become someone like that.
This is what led me to the real estate industry. I know, it sounds weird because, let's be honest, real estate agents as a profession don't have the best public perception. In 2018, a Gallup poll published in Chicago Now showed that the public generally perceived real estate agents as less honest than journalists, and just slightly more so than lawyers. But integrity is one of the key requirements for potential clients looking for real estate representation.
Early on, I was very lucky to have an honest and helpful individual - who truly values integrity - to guide me in how I considered my decisions (shoutout: Richard Newcomb). I'm also fortunate now to have a wonderful group of people to work with and a fabulous guide in my brokerage.
My primary goal in my work is to practice with integrity. Sometimes that means not telling my clients what they want to hear. Sometimes that means turning down clients, or referring them to another agent because of conflicts of interest. Right now, that means putting a hold on all business activities, because regardless of whether small businesses are able to reopen in the near future, I will not participate in any activities that can put my family, my clients, or myself at risk unnecessarily. Yes, I may lose out on commissions now, but in the long run, I will show myself to be trustworthy and honest. And I'll be able to remain motivated in this industry as long as I stay true to myself and the ethics that my clients expect from a professional.