Scott’s Thoughts: A Transactional Life

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.”

-Stephen Farris Saint, Ecuadorian-born business entrepreneur, pilot, and author.

Men on smartphones.The nature of real estate is, on the surface, transactional. A seller needs a buyer for their home. A buyer hunts for that special new place. Agents on both sides of the transaction do their best to protect client interests and broker a smooth deal. The closing comes and goes, and then it’s on to the next deal. Agents juggle their transactions and work to “fill the pipeline” with more.

This approach lends itself to a career of bite-sized moments. It may be profitable and it may be long, but if it’s conducted in a transactional nature, it may not add up to much in the end. Unlike artists who build a body of work, or entrepreneurs who invent a world-changing device or empire, where does the legacy of a transactional life live? If looking back, any agent could have “done the deal,” what will you have built?

I bring this up not to cast real estate in a negative light, but to suggest it’s worth keeping a “legacy mindset” in the midst of a real estate career. True, you may want to build wealth for yourself and your clients, but what do you do on a day-to-day basis with the long view in mind? Is your network simply a “circle of influence” for you to sow and reap, or are you genuinely enjoying the diversity of your clients? When you think of those you you’ve helped, have you done anything to invest in the connection beyond the term of the deal?

Be wary of the “hired gun” mentality in real estate. The risk is not that you’ll make less money, or you’ll fail to leave nothing more than money behind, it’s that you run the risk of looking back on your lifelong work with a sense of emptiness. Meaning is not a byproduct of a career, not a side effect of transactions stacked up month-over-month. You must make meaning as you go. Every day is an opportunity to bring human dignity, worth, and friendship to your work. Beware the transactional life.

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