How much time do you spend improving your skills daily or even weekly? The skills of selling real estate include our listing presentation, follow-up systems, prospecting, negotiating, and qualifying, to name a few. It’s your mind, what you say, how you say it. How much time do we actually spend practicing these skills? Do we truly need to practice these skills?

I ran across a quote once that stopped me in my tracks. Abe Lincoln said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” He would spend two thirds of his time improving the tools that make him effective at his work. What would your business look like if you spent time sharpening your axe? Your skills in selling real estate are your axe. What if we were to spend even just 30 minutes daily working to become better at selling homes, serving our clients, and running our business? What would the end result be? We would be investing 2.5 hours per week in personal and professional improvement, or 10 hours per month, for a total of 125 hours in a year. That’s three weeks a year of straight work on your skills in selling real estate. Imagine the difference in income for you and the increase of service to your clients with that approach. You won’t miss the 30 minutes at a time that you are investing.

Most of us, when we get to work, do the same thing daily -- we start right in trying to chop down the tree. We don’t evaluate how best to chop down the tree; we just start chopping, and hope that eventually the tree will fall. We keep swinging the axe until the sweat is pouring down, without stopping to consider whether this is the best approach. We expect progress just because we are working so hard, and it is true that by working hard we make good time. But we are often making good time in the opposite direction from our desires in life. The problem is that we don’t know where we are going. Many of us have not clearly defined what we want. We would get much better results from our efforts if we spent the time to sharpen our skills and to think about what we are doing.

Many speakers talk about being efficient. When your efficiency increases, they say, you have won the game. It is true that there is value in increasing your efficiency. Efficiency is great, as long as we are effective as well. But being highly effective is more important than being highly efficient. Let me give you an example. Being efficient is having the skills to drive at 70 mph versus being able to control a car only up to 55 mph. Being effective is taking the most direct route to drive from Denver to Chicago. If you are not focused on effectiveness, you may drive from Denver to Dallas to get to Chicago. The goal is Chicago; even if you can drive at 70 mph the whole way, going to Dallas first wipes out all of your efficiency gains. Take the time to ensure that you are heading directly in the direction you desire; that you are not taking the wrong turn; that you are not stuck on the turnpike of life with no exit for hundreds of miles.

You must spend time to focus on being effective, to “sharpen the axe.” What is your axe in the real estate business? Which tools do you need to spend time sharpening in order to be more effective? Most of us have quite a few things that we need to sharpen in our business. Select one thing that really needs your attention today. Don’t wait until tomorrow -- do it now. Then work, focus, and improve that one area, even if only for 30 minutes a day, to sharpen your axe. You will be amazed at the ease with which you can fell the big trees of life.

Author's Bio: 

Dirk Zeller is an Agent, an Investor, and the President & CEO of Real Estate Champions. His company trains more than 350,000 Agents worldwide each year through live events, online training, self-study programs, and newsletters. He's the widely published author of Your First Year in Real Estate, Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies®, The Champion Real Estate Agent, Telephone Sales for Dummies®, and over 300 articles in print.

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