I titled this piece “Pursuing Excellence” because I believe in it so passionately. For you, for me, and for our industry. And I don’t think I am alone in that belief. After all, what is the number one topic for book sellers? Motivation, average to exceptional, 100 ways to excellence, the power within, the power without, the power to change, how to excel, how to succeed, how to whatever … you get it, everyone is looking to achieve their best, and we in the mortgage business are no exception.
Let’s face it; we’ve had a few challenges lately. The past 12 months (the past 36 months, actually) have been anything but pleasant. The days of quick approvals, sufficient values and paychecks with lots of lovely zeros have been replaced by Dodd-Frank, appraisals that resemble some hybrid offspring of the Titanic and Hindenburg, and loan conditions on a slam-dunk file that make Tolstoy’s War and Peace look like a sticky note reminding you to buy milk at the grocery store.
In short, the success we enjoyed and the excellence we achieved seems a little out of reach these days … or is it?
The new world in which we live has resulted in a much-needed cleansing of the industry, sending nefarious senior loan officers to throw in the towel and slither on to their next opportunity. In the meantime, we’ve seen interest rates fall to levels not seen since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. With this in mind, I believe this is a year worth getting excited about and where we can unabashedly pursue excellence to the fullest. That said, it is my opinion, we first need to jettison the idea that “three or four loans a month” is acceptable. Let’s be completely honest, despite contractual obligation to XYZ Mortgage Company Inc. stating three loans in monthly production keeps you employed and allows you to still make a reasonable living, is that really the standard we pursue?
Why has the bar been set so low? The “standards” today are lower than they were 30 years ago. Let’s just call it what it is, shall we … excuses. We justify, delay, become lazy, blame the market, blame the economy, become complacent and settle for mediocrity. With the current market conditions, there are countless loan officers still very successful who don’t use the excuses to hamper their success.
Does it not speak to the essence of what plagued our industry for the past four years? Why do we, as humans, have a tendency to justify scraping our derrières as we Fosbury Flop (look that one up) over this bar of mediocrity?
The setter of standards is not the boss’ boss’ boss who sits at a desk in an office building nine states away. Cliché as it may be, the setter of standards is that lonely soul that stares back at you in the mirror. Not just in the mortgage game, but in life, your relationship with your spouse, your children, your personal finances, your health and the list goes on.
The age old questions remains: How many people truly pursue the excellence that puts them on a road to success and goal achievement? The answer is … very few. But you can be counted in this elite group?
Ask yourself: What will it take? What will you commit to this year? Are you willing to abandon your comfort zone? What will you read to aid in your pursuit of success? How will you invest in yourself? Are you going to let your success be predicated on anyone else? Are you ready to succeed? When will you start? Find something, ANYTHING to hold you accountable!
Professionally, partner with a co-worker, become a student of your profession, conduct site visits, find a top producer with whom you can extract ideas and emulate their success, or best practices. Hire a business coach. Personally, hire a life coach, challenge your spouse, your kids, create a personal mission statement. Set goals that motivate you. Find your purpose and establish a path to get you there.
The simple yet unavoidable question is not, what are you doing to pursue excellence, but will you pursue excellence? It’s there if you want it. Answer these two questions to begin your pursuit of excellence:
►What will you do today?
►Who will you tell?
Casey Cunningham is president of XINNIX, a provider of mortgage sales and leadership development programs. She may be reached by phone at (678) 325-3501 or e-mail [email protected]