“I’m going to say two words to you and I want you to listen to them very carefully…Stop It!” This was a direct quote from Colleen, my broker-in-charge as I sat across from her, a snot-swollen tissue knotted in my hand. Her routine query of “How are things this week?” sent me into a spiral of self pity and despair.
A contract on a house I had been entrusted to sell for a repeat client had fallen through the day of closing because the buyers couldn’t obtain financing; a contract that had been dragging out for three months. I hadn’t eaten, slept, (this is embarrassing to admit) bathed really for days leading up to that devastating day. When I got the email from the lender that there was nothing that could be done, it was broken and there was nothing we could do to fix it, I fell in the floor, praying that it was a dream. Calling my client to tell them the news was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I wanted to be their hero, as I had been before, and it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was fired, in spite of my efforts, and I felt like I was trapped in a room with no oxygen. I had failed my client. I hadn’t tried hard enough. If I had just pushed more, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. I was a failure, a stupid, sorry failure.
So there I was, Overcash, pity party of one. A bawling, puffy mess across the paper-strewn desk of my composed yet empathetic broker-in-charge. There was silence as I hiccuped and ran my fingers under my eyes and balled them into the tissue which had by now been reduced to pulp. Colleen stared at me and breathed in deeply. “I’m going to say two words to you and I want you to listen to them very carefully…STOP IT!”
“Stop it?” I blubbered.
“Did you work hard?” Colleen asked.
“Ye-yes…” I replied, not knowing where she was going with this.
“Did you do everything that you could to make sure that your client was taken care of?”
“Did you, even when you had nothing new, no changes, nothing…did you still pick up the phone, listen to their concerns, and do what they told you to do.”
“Yes, but maybe if I-”
“No!” Colleen’s voice was strong and finite. “Stop it! Stop it now!”
So I did. I shut up. And I listened to the words that changed my outlook on my career.
“You remind me of myself when I was your age, Morgan,” Colleen said, smiling. “I remember a time when I mucked up a deal a very long time ago. I went to my broker at the time, and she laughed at me. ‘You know what I like best about you, Colleen?’ she said. ‘I don’t have to chew you out. You do it to yourself for me.'” Colleen chuckled, and I felt a small smile tingling across my tear-tightened face.
“One of the best things about you is that you DO care about your clients,” Colleen continued. “You care a great deal about them, and that’s why your clients love you, because they know that you would throw yourself in front of a passing train if it meant that it would make them happy.” I nodded. The whole reason why I began my career was because I watched my mother take care of buyers and sellers as I grew up. I saw the way that she helped them move forward in their lives, and I wanted to do that. “The problem is, you take it on yourself when things don’t go right,” Colleen said. “Was it your fault that the financing fell through?”
I sighed. “No.”
“So stop beating yourself up about it! You did everything you could. And the deal still died. Because sometimes…” she shrugged. “Horrible shit happens to good people. It’s not right or fair, but it’s the reality.”
I don’t have to delve too much further on this, because it is obvious. How many of us go each day carrying a certain failure with us? Maybe it was a failed transaction, a failed interaction, or the worst, a failed relationship. It begins as a small nagging voice in recesses of our thoughts. You failed, it hisses. It is in our anatomy to problem solve and when that calamity envelopes our subconscious, it grows into an obsession until it begins to define and mold us into the people we are in this moment. It begins to guide our actions, our goals, and our interactions with others, ultimately sabotaging us because we are so terrified of recreating that failure again. And before we know it, it becomes an endless cycle, transforming us into what we feared the most.
STOP! STOP IT! STOP IT NOW!
Let this be your mantra. Followed closely by NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY MY HAPPINESS.
Sometimes crazy happens. Stop obsessing over the failures, learn from them, and keep rolling!