I learned a hard lesson early in life.
There is only one way to do things.
When I started kindergarden, I could read. I mean, I could read so well that the teachers would have ME read to the class for a "break". I could add, subtract, multiply, divide. I was a little "ahead of my time". I was the first born, my mom stayed at home with me, and spent a lot of time teaching me things. I loved reading, anyway, and definitely enjoyed reading to the class.
As we grew and moved on to bigger and better things (first grade), the learning (for me) began. I was soon told and taught that everything I knew about writing, adding, and subtracting were WRONG. I was BAD for doing it the way I did.
I spent countless hours having to redo my work to count whatever those little dots are on numbers and draw them in, the teacher not satisfied with just the correct answer.
I consistently was sent back to my desk because I didn't carry numbers when I subtracted, even though I still had the right number.
And surprisingly, the thing that makes me the MOST mad now, my artwork was constantly given poor grades because I didn't draw the tree/cat/house/whatever EXACTLY as instructed.
This continued all through school. As you can imagine, it got old pretty quick. I lost interest in school and the basic subjects fairly quickly.
A whole new world was opened up to me when our band instructor told me that my "reflexes" weren't fast enough to play flute on the 6th grade band signup day, and placed a clarinet into my hands and said "here, we need more clarinet players in the band, this is what you will play."
Despite my dreams not quite coming true, my mom and I set out in the search for a clarinet. I got that thing home and I tried DESPERATELY to make some noise. It was not pretty.
"Band week", a week during the summer where they teach us how to blow into whatever instrument we were awkwardly trying to hold in our little 6th grade hands, began and ended semi-poorly. But I wasn't giving up. Every day I sat outside (Oh, our poor neighbors) and I practiced the same three notes over and over and OVER again.
Sixth grade gets a little blurry with the discovery of boys and the realization that they could be nice to look at and may not, in fact, have cooties, but by the end of the year, as my band director put it, I had the range on the clarinet of a senior in high school.
The fun began.
I quickly found myself not challenged enough, and taught myself more instruments. 7th grade brought on the flute, which I took to contest and received a superior rating. Bass clarinet, saxophone, drums... anything that my band director would let me touch came home with me and I learned with a devotion rarely seen in even American Idol contestants. I taught myself the clarinet, and I taught myself all my other instruments. I was "quite a find" and labelled "talented". My move to high school found me in front of the high school director the year before, his mouth open in awe, and the following announcement that I would be immediately placed in the high level band AND the high level choir. I could have cried.
So tenth grade began. This director spent time teaching me, and immediately I was on the road to an All State Audition. They take place in March, but he convinced me that MONTHS of preparation were required. Although a trumpet player, he was an AMAZING teacher. And I quickly learned that there was more than playing fast notes and looking "showy".
All State Auditions are another whole novel in themselves, but I flew through and was one of very few who make it their sophomore year. I spent time at camp that summer, and shortly after camp we moved to Mora.
Quickly I discovered that I was a rarity. All these other clarinetists had private lessons and professional level clarinets. I still played on an old Yamaha plastic clarinet from a pawn shop. (I still play it sometimes, just for fun.) I quickly realized that I was what the kids now call a "poser" - a small time clarinetist PRETENDING to be big time. (At least that's how it seemed to me at the time!)
So Mora High School brought on many new experiences, including a new professional level clarinet. (I love my baby!) The biggest change though was the bi-weekly trips to Duluth from Mora for lessons with Ted Schoen, an AWESOME clarinet professor at the University of Minnesota. This was it, now I was big time!!! Along with all the fame and recitals and the new shiny clarinet, I had acquired a big shiny new ego, too.
I was quickly put in my place again. As I branched off and did more and more "prestegious" things like lessons and camp and workshops, I found myself constantly berated. I was doing EVERYTHING WRONG.
I held my clarinet wrong.
I blew into it wrong.
I tongued my notes wrong.
I used the wrong reeds.
I used the wrong mouthpiece.
I even was told at one point that I didn't have the right "jaw structure", and should just quit now. I would never progress.
I began to change EVERYTHING, which began to set me back instead of help me move forward. I probably would have been better off if someone would have broken all of my fingers and I had to teach myself to play like that while I healed.
So what happened? I continued to exceed, earning a coveted spot in the All State Orchestra (four clarinetists in the whole STATE each year get that spot... it's not easy!), along with many awards, scholarships, and invitations to play in bands nationwide. I began to "do everything right". The most important part - I hated what I was doing!
Music to me was, and still is, about passion, emotion, lyricity, and movement. When I began to be restrained, music wasn't MUSIC anymore... it was a chore. My senior year I decided I had enough and began breaking all the rules again. I did what I wanted, and I was good. I continued to be awarded scholarships and trophies, and I enjoyed it again.
So what does this have to do with real estate????
I've been "in the business" for nearly three years. I've been licensed for nearly two. In that time, I have received a LOT of advice. "Do this, do that, this is the only way, you'll never get any sales THAT way..."
In the last month I've realized that this is what has happened my whole life. I've hit the ground running, doing well, adapted to what I'm "supposed" to do, and soon discovered that I had lost the passion for what I was doing! Marketing became a chore! The good ideas died and fell off along the way.
I became "just another agent", when I should have just continued being Joslyn Panka.
I woke up one day realizing that selling real estate is art! Okay, not art like what you would see in the Walker Art Museum, but it's art! The marketing, the creativity. There is so much that goes into creating a business for yourself that is not textbook, and can't be taught to you. "Stay in the office", "Go GET the business", "You need a website", "You need shiny business cards", or even "You need a big national name to sell ANYTHING"... I was being sent back to my desk with a picture of a tree that I personally thought was AWESOME, and it "wasn't the way things are done".
I'm not suggesting that everyone go out and break all the rules of their brokerage, or completely change the way they have done business. However, I do think that what works for you is awesome, and what works for me is awesome, and what works for Jane Doe and John Smith is awesome, too! Sure, I work floor time. I like it. There are some nice leads that come in. However, I do spend MORE of my time on my internet marketing. I'm the leader in the area for internet marketing, and I plan on keeping it that way - because it works for me! Will it work for my colleagues in my office? I don't know. Will it work for other agents in the area? It might, it might not. (Probably not because I'm determined to keep my "Internet Queen" title.) However, if we all did business the same way, wouldn't that get old? Besides, how would clients pick who they want to work with? How would we as agents ever become individuals without the art required to sell houses? The transactions would lose their beauty. No longer would you tear up on your way home from a closing because that couple got the house of their dreams, or the child in the family was HILARIOUS when picking out "his bedroom" during the second showing. The laughter, the smiles, the tears... that is the beauty of real estate, and the number one reason why I love this career.
I love it for the art.
So fellow agents and real estate professionals - don't forget why you got into the business, and to appreciate and embrace the art in our careers EVERY DAY. It will make you a better agent - and you'll love your life a whole lot more.