Scott’s Thoughts: The Inevitable

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

-W. Edwards Deming, American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant.

No industry is immune to technological and political forces. Though innovation is typically regarded as a boon, it inevitably comes with casualties. Obsolete roles may fall by the wayside while new positions become available. This is the nature of change, especially in 21st century capitalism.

Most anger and anxiety around industry upheaval comes from fear. “Where do I fit in?” “How will I adapt?” Sometimes this fear blossoms into full-blown denial. Denial includes a refusal to accept the changes happening before our eyes, an unwillingness to learn about future possibilities, and self-soothing stories which assure us that all will remain basically the same.

Despite powerful economic and political forces designed to protect vested interests in a given industry, those defenses cannot hold out forever. Just ask travel agencies, taxi companies, and hotel owners.

While the real estate industry has weathered many changes well–even embracing new technology when others have avoided it–innovation is not yet through with the traditional models and roles inherent to buying and selling homes. If you want to continue to practice real estate in the future, you might do well to enhance your perspective and follow emerging ideas and startups.

From a mindset perspective, here are four tips to help you prepare:

1. Look at patterns in other industries. Though there is no “one size fits all” for radical change, there are lessons to be learned from recent history. Understanding big shifts in other industries may help you get a feel for how real estate might change.

2. Recognize when you’re in the echo chamber. Many established industry players will tell you what you want to hear: “Don’t panic, everything’s fine.” It can be alluring to listen to those voices who say “change is overblown” or “we’re in a unique industry, immune to many of the changes.”

3. Seek contrary opinions. Find out who thinks the real estate industry is obsolete. Listen to the arguments they have for revolutionizing the way people buy and sell homes, even if it threatens your livelihood. You may disagree, but you can’t rationally evaluate your options if you keep your head in the sand.

4. Avoid catastrophizing. Catastrophizing ”is an irrational thought a lot of us have in believing that something is far worse than it actually is.” Change takes time. Many predictions are too dire and unrealistic. Don’t let your fears drive your career. Be smart about your feelings.

In this week’s “Great Read Roundup” we’ve included a few articles designed to help you get some perspective on the potential changes facing agents and offices. Introduce yourself to the new frontiers in real estate.

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