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Harnessing Your Ego-drive

Successful LOs are motivated by challenges and opportunities.

Someone once said that the level of success we achieve in life has much more to do with our tenacity than our talent. Here’s a case in point. I went to high school with a guy named Rick. In addition to being a real nice guy, he was a phenomenal basketball player. Playing one-on-one on any outdoor court, Rick could take on all comers with ease. (He used to smile while he played, almost to show that the game was so easy for him it was amusing.) Although he really enjoyed playing basketball, Rick, however, never played organized sports or even tried out for the high school basketball team. While Rick possessed the talent, he lacked the drive and tenacity for after-school practices, the fitness regimen, learning all the plays, and attending weekend games. Rick’s skills could have taken him to popularity, and even through a paid college education. But he simply didn’t have the heart for it.

There are a lot of extremely talented people working as loan originators who are doing so-so or even struggling to survive. While they have the essential skills of what it takes to do well in mortgage lending, they lack the fire, drive, tenacity, and “heart” to succeed. I talk frequently with sales managers and broker/owners who face this dilemma with their new hires. “I just don’t understand it,” they say. “That guy had all the right stuff to succeed. He had the personality, the brainpower, and the contacts. We trained him and spent time working closely with him to teach him the business. And yet, he failed. Why?” Indeed, why do people like this fail or perform only marginally in this business? An equally important question we should ask is: Why do so many “average” people do so well in mortgage lending?

You have no doubt completed a few self-assessment tests before. Honest answers to a good self-assessment can reveal a lot about who you are and what you have the potential of becoming. Before you read on, I’d like you to invest five minutes to take a simple self-assessment test. Read the 10 statements below and then mark the appropriate number next to each statement:

3 = For me, this statement is absolutely true
2 = For me, this statement is somewhat true
1 = For me, this statement is not true

  1. I am an extremely competitive person.
  2. It is important that I am admired and respected by my peers.
  3. I enjoy sales contests and perform even better when participating in a contest.
  4. It is important that I build a reputation for myself in my marketplace.
  5. Each time I reach a new level of success, I strive for the next level.
  6. I like to display trophies, plaques, and other signs of my accomplishments.
  7. It is important to me that I am (or become) one of the top loan originators in my office, my company, or my marketplace.
  8. I push myself hard every day, I expect a lot out of myself.
  9. I enjoy taking on new challenges and risks in my business.
  10. I would enjoy mentoring, coaching, or managing other loan originators to success.

Add up your total and mark it off to the side.

Two decades spent in this business has shown me that there are certain common characteristics of successful mortgage loan originators. While many come from different walks of life and conduct their business in different ways, most all LOs enjoy a universal trait: ego-drive. Ego-drive is a personal need for achievement in every endeavor, including sports, education, and career. Those individuals with strong ego-drive are always trying to better themselves and are motivated by challenges, opportunities, and the high standards they themselves create. Donald Trump has strong ego-drive, as does Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Gates. Ego-drive is a positive, propelling force in their lives and one of the key factors in their success.

How is your ego-drive right now? While the self-assessment you completed is a short one, it will give you some insight into where you now stand.

If your total score was less than 20, you have low ego-drive. In essence, you are saying:

  • I am not very competitive.
  • I don’t like to push myself all that hard.
  • How I stack up in my company or industry doesn’t really mean much to me.
  • Admiration and respect from my peers doesn’t excite me.
  • I avoid a lot of new things and am fearful of taking risks
  • I don’t see myself advancing much beyond where I am now.

You may not like the sound of that, but it’s true. You might have other talents and attributes, but a strong ego-drive for success isn’t one of them. If I were your coach, I would ask you to seriously consider what you are doing in this business. Mortgage loan origination is a fast-paced, pay-for-performance based sales profession that is competitive and challenging and always changing. Your assessment results reveal that the tenacity to push yourself through your career day by day just isn’t there, and perhaps you’ve been wondering whether you are working for anything more than your next paycheck. It is time for a good “come-to-Moses” meeting with yourself and some somber soul-searching about your future. It is extremely rare that you see anyone with low ego-drive make it in competitive, professional selling.

If your total score was 20 to 25, you have moderate ego-drive. While some of the statements in the assessment describe you very well, others only partially define who you are and what you want. You are probably in the same boat with most mortgage originators in business today. You achieve moderate success month after month, but rarely lead the pack on your team or in your company. You are somewhat motivated by competition, contests, and comparisons to other loan officers. You push yourself, but only to a comfortable degree, and may shy away from taking on bigger challenges or taking risks by promoting a new product or trying a new marketing idea. You rely too much on your company, your product line, and your pricing for results. You look for others to move you forward.

Not happy with how that sounds? Want to change things? You need to begin to take a greater ownership for your results, your success, and your future. Don’t feel awkward about your ego-drive, it isn’t a bad thing. It’s not about bragging, beating others, or being self-absorbed. Ego-drive is about pushing yourself to become the great originator you have the capability and desire to be. In a business where you pretty much manage yourself, you have to be a tough manager. You have to want success for your own gratification (ego-drive defined) and realize that no one can push you, challenge you, and appreciate what you do more than you. Motivation comes from within. Passion and heart are also internal forces. Your score says you have the fire inside, now stoke it and watch what can happen. Let your ego-drive out and allow your desire for success take you to places you never before thought possible.

If your total score on my assessment was 25 to 30 (and you were honest in your answers), your ego-drive is in high gear. You are saying:

  • I am highly competitive and want to win.
  • I am out to build a solid reputation for myself in my profession.
  • I am never satisfied with what I have done, only with what I am going to do next.
  • I am willing to push myself to the limit, take on new challenges, evolve, and take risks.
  • I am looking for my next horizon; the next great opportunity.

Now, does that sound like a top performer? You bet it does! Top performers own extremely strong ego-drives. They are the pacesetters, the trendsetters, and the record setters of this industry. They are driven by an internal energy and initiative to succeed. Your score says you are one of them. You are either a high producer or on your way to becoming one of the best in the business. Tap into your high ego-drive. Use its dynamic force to accelerate you forward. There may be smarter loan originators with better products, or lower pricing, or snazzier marketing fliers than you, but they don’t have that magical ingredient you have: ego-drive. This strength will differentiate you and keep you going long after others quit or simply give up. For you, failure is not an option because you will not allow failure to happen. Achieving what you want is too important for you to settle for a life of mediocrity. You are the reason you are a success.

Yes, ego-drive is a powerful force in any sales profession. It can make you or break you. It will keep you strong and it will keep you challenged throughout your entire career. Ego-drive indicates, above all else, that you believe in yourself. And that alone says a lot about you.

By Douglas Smith

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