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What Winston Churchill Told Us About Success

By Jim Gillespie | October 26, 2011

When I opened an E-mail recently there was a quote inside of it sent to me by my friend Michael Russer. It was a quote from Winston Churchill on success, and here it is:

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

When you think about it for a moment, even though that’s not the most exciting definition of success, there’s a lot we can learn from this definition during these tough economic times. So many brokers are measuring their level of success today against how they were doing back in 2006 and 2007, and this often isn’t very easy for brokers to come to terms with.

When you look at the people who have achieved great success, oftentimes they’ve overcome great difficulty along the way to make it happen, and Winston Churchill was definitely no exception. What the British had to endure with the constant bombing from the Germans, before finally winning the War, is something that we as Americans have never had to endure here ourselves.

The great Thomas Edison actually failed more than 1,000 times before he successfully invented the electric light bulb. All we normally hear around this is how he succeeded at inventing the electric light bulb, but how many others would have quit after just 5, 25, or maybe even 50 attempts at it? In addition, Edison did something quite amazing to ensure that he’d finally come up with the correct solution. He announced to the world that he was very close to successfully inventing the world’s first electric light bulb, even though he was nowhere even close to finding the solution. He knew that by putting that much pressure on himself in front of the entire world, it would force him to finally find the correct solution.

Now there’s a guy with guts!

But what does all of this mean for us today? It means that no matter what our circumstances are, we must be willing to go "from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." Our responses from our prospecting calls may not be what they used to be, but we need to pick up the phone and call the next person anyway…with unbridled enthusiasm.

One CCIM broker I’ve known for more than 25 years said to me, "I’m working twice as hard now to make half as much money." This is a broker who’s averaged more than $40 million in transaction volume every year for more than 35 years. In addition, in today’s market he’s now prospecting more than 20 hours a week every single week. It’s rare to find any broker with even 2, 5, or 10 years of experience in our business who’s willing to prospect that much today, but this man is a 35-plus year veteran in our business, and he’s decided that he must be willing to do it. His prospects are telling him "No" much more frequently today when he’s making his prospecting calls, but he’s committed to "going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."

So how is your state of mind within your brokerage business these days? Do you have the same enthusiasm you once had for making your prospecting calls, or have you lost some of that enthusiasm? If a 35-plus year veteran in our industry who’s averaged more than $40 million a year in production, is now prospecting more than 20 hours a week in his own brokerage business, how many hours should you be prospecting now every single week within your brokerage business?

Winston Churchill definitely knew what it took to succeed, and he understood that the people who eventually become the greatest successes in life, are the ones who have failed the greatest number of times. Yes, you’re going to get rejected much more nowadays in this market when you’re making your prospecting calls. But when you make these calls anyway, on schedule, without losing your enthusiasm, you’ll make much more money when you compare this with resisting making these calls, and making far fewer of them. 


If you’re interested in one-on-one coaching to take your commercial real estate brokerage business to the next level, click here to contact me.

"I have had so many responses to the marketing letter I’ve mailed out that you wrote for me. Sellers have called in on properties they would like to sell, and the total dollar value of these properties so far is $56,000,000.00. I am blown away by the success of this program. One seller has an $8,000,000.00 property that we may already have a buyer for. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Lisa Godley-Gilstrap
Lee & Associates

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