Staying In My Lane?

Real Estate Agent with Real Living | At Home DC / MD / VA

Harvard Health Blog Mental Health

Sometime in the fall of 2017, I came across a story on how to keep mentally fit.  Similar to physical fitness, I'd have to believe it's better to keep myself sharp as of now, rather than try to rebuild mental facilities a few decades from now. Trying to retrieve when/where/device/journal I got this nugget from isn't bearing fruit. [* note to self, maybe I've started losing some of the sharpness to my blade already].  Most of the suggestions number from half to less than a dozen, to include:

  • no smoking and moderation of alcohol
  • maintain good physical health
  • consider taking up a new skill, eg knitting or a new language
  • maintain reasonable stress levels
  • teach & work with people

To review, let's see where I stood:

  • stopped both when I turned 30 (yes, that was a tough year)
  • let's discuss this in 2019 after my 2018 resolutions have been fulfilled
  • likely I should focus on getting much better with le francais because I clearly have 2 left hands if you've ever seen my handwriting which likely means I should not try knitting
  • I'm a Realtor, which means "reasonable stress levels" are a challenging goal
  • okay....lets do this one, let's teach the world things

For the past 3-4 years, I've been with Toastmasters, which I believe I continue to pursue precisely because it forces me to not think about Real Estate for 90 minutes per week.  It's also inspirational to see how quickly people grow and learn their inner strength & find confidence.  A number of the veterans have become friends, but since this is a Capitol Hill group, there is a continual merry go round of people who are in/out within less than a year as their jobs bring them here and them send them away.  Working with all these newbies is a pleasure and keeps me sharp as I continue to teach people.  While this is good, this only satisfies one of the bullet points in most strategies to stay mentally agile.

These thoughts were percolating when I received an invitation to become a real estate instructor.  This Toastmasters gig made it so that I didn't immediately laugh and hang up the phone.  Rather, I asked them to check back in with me in a day or two when I wasn't in the middle of competing thoughts and driving, such that I could interview them a bit more.

Now, two months later, I am still in process.  My college transcripts were provided electronically the very same morning I requested them (not quite as quick as I recall they did these 30+ years ago when they would be snail mailed to me).  Maryland's letters of good standing arrived within days.  DC's letters of good standing were ordered by a written letter in early December (per their request) and I've been told they have been mailed to me now, which means I'll have them within 5 weeks if they come in this week, though there were holidays and to be fair, this is DC.  I'd be teaching in Virginia and they already have my standing, this complete the set of required documents.

My reason for writing this is I'd like to hear other people's experiences here. With hours being a finite resource, is the benefit to my mental razor sharpness worth a few hours a week.  Are there benefits, or consequences which I've not considered?

Do I jump over and start teaching, do I lay aside a few hours a week.  Maybe even at the cost of missing one or two Nationals baseball games this summer.  Does slightly altering what I do in this profession help me be better at the profession?

At the moment, my expectations are that I'll jump in and do it.  If I enjoy it, I do it again. And again.  If not, then I don't repeat.  Being razor sharpness does allow me to make smart decisions and not repeat foolish mistakes.  If only to clearly know which way this will roll.

(photo from Harvard Health Blog, 2012 11 05)

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Claude Labbe, Realty for Your Busy Life

Real Living | At Home
11 Dupont Circle #650
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 518-8781 bus / (703) 868-7774 mobile



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Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

Claude,  I think it's good that you realize that you might have a problem.  Once the mental fog gets too bad you get on a downward sprial that is hard to come out of.  So I think that there is still hope for you.

My priorities would be to look at your diet.  It all starts there.  You are what you eat.  I like the "primal" philosophy.  A good site is 

You need to give your body the proper nutrients in order to function optimally.    Think about it. Would it be a good idea to teach classes if you were always half drunk?  Refraining from alcohol is the same as refraining from foods that put your body and mind in a less than optimal condition.

The other thing that many just blow off is getting enough good sleep.  That along with proper nutrition is going to give you a good foundation.  It sounds like it would be easy to improve sleep but there are things you can do to make it easier.  Good luck.  I wish you the best.

Jan 08, 2018 08:30 AM #4
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Well I think Tim Maitski  gave you great advice. I especially like the part about teaching drunk. LOL

Ultimately I think you should take this on if you want to and not just as a means to stay mentally fit. I think your plan of trying it and not repeating if you don't like it is a good one.

Jan 08, 2018 08:55 AM #5
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Great POST Claude Labbe  I too gave up smoking and now have been walking - Today I went outside with good intentions except it is still just a little to bitter . No more drinking I am high on life . By the way Today I will do a follow up

Jan 08, 2018 10:39 AM #6
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Claude

Taking good care of our minds and bodies is pretty important. We only get one chance. I gave up smoking many years

Sounds to me as if the teaching is a good thing for you to try. You won’t know if this is right for you or not, and whether you enjoy it, without trying. If it’s something you truly enjoy, you can likely make the time if it’s a priority.


Jan 08, 2018 10:45 AM #7
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Claude- You'll never know unless you try. You might be interested in The Nun Study and it speaks to many of the items you mentioned. And if you still can't what I do..ask yourself what's the worse thing that could happen if you tried. Usually, it's not that bad!!

Jan 08, 2018 11:06 AM #8
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Always wise to invest in the self and raise our personal stock thank you

Jan 08, 2018 11:24 AM #9
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I think you are still very sharp and will certainly do well with these resolutions, get after it my friend!

Jan 08, 2018 11:51 AM #10
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

I like your wisdom at the end, do it, if you like it keep doing it and if you don't stop. Consider what you are really getting out of it. Maybe it is not only mental acuity, I think that is the right word, but also deeper knowledge of what you are teaching and being a mentor to your students as well. It is not easy being a "good" teacher who is entertaining but also keeps your attention over a long period of time. I wish you much luck, having given up smoking and drinking I know you can do this.

Jan 08, 2018 12:42 PM #11
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

They must have asked you to be an instructor for a reason, right? Clearly they saw something and now that you've decided to move forward, it's your time to prove them right.

Regarding mental acuity - have you ever tried to learn bridge? One never, ever, stops learning how to play that game!

Jan 08, 2018 01:01 PM #12
Mary Jo Quay
Remax Results - Edina, MN
I Move You Home

It's just my opinion, but I think that most agents have to be ADD to juggle transactions in the air all at once.  I had typhoid and hepatitus together, so my liver told me not to even think about drinking.  Ever.

Unfortunately, I have two older cousins who had Alzeheimer's.  It's a concern. But, I've run across several doctors who recommend similar to the Paleo diet, and moderate exercise.  The interesting part is that the brain runs on fat. Sugar and refinded carbs are the enemy.  Bulletproof coffee anyone?

Jan 08, 2018 02:14 PM #13
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good evening Claude Labbe ,

Sounds like you are a natural for instructing so keep us updated on how you like it!

Jan 08, 2018 03:35 PM #14
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great tips on keeping the mind in the right lane.

Activity, health and using the mind are critical for good mental health and function.

Teaching will indeed keep you sharp.

Thanks and best wishes

Jan 09, 2018 09:10 AM #15
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

I've been considering dipping my toes back into the coaching waters, Claude Labbe.  Loved the kids ... loved the workout physically and mentally.  It was gratifying.  Unsure whether it will be basketball again ... or if I'll really stretch out and get involved in First Tee with golf.  Either way, I gain immensely and hopefully help a few kids along the way.  Your post has motivated me to quit talking about it and get off my tush ...


Jan 09, 2018 12:23 PM #16
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I was chuckling at the line 'not to think about real estate for 90 minutes'.  When I come home at the end of a tough day, and myhusband is asking me about it, so often I want to talk about anything else!  He's just being a sweetie though and acting interested. If you have the desire to coach...go ahead and do it!

Jan 09, 2018 01:31 PM #17
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

Developing teaching skills is a valuable asset. I have been a training instructor in various subjects for 30 years. I was a computer design engineer and took the Dale Carnegie course years ago. We did short speeches each class that helped develop my speaking skills and confidence.

Fear of public speaking is one the biggest fears that people have. But if you prepare and know the course material, then it is easy. I try to communicate and engage the audience with some interaction, not just give a lecture.

I think to be a good teacher, you should also be a good student. I am always reading and learning more. I encourage my students to look up the answer if someone asks them a new question. Then you will know the answer the next time.

You might also read about creating online courses. Online education is a giant market. If you have a popular course, you can create an online course and the website does the teaching for you. Like a vending machine. An automated business.

For bloggers, you can buy a plug-in for WordPress that can be used to create an online course. Instead of writing a blog post, you write a course lesson. You can also include student registration, payment, quizzes, and a course completion certificate.

Jan 10, 2018 04:12 PM #18
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Hello fellow instructor. It is so fulfilling to know we are helping educate the right way and making this a better place. Congrats on the feature.

Jan 12, 2018 04:18 PM #19
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Claude, not sure how I missed your post, and it is a good one!   It is a good idea to step out of real estate for periods of time every day!  

Jan 14, 2018 06:26 AM #20
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Clalude 5 years ago I realized that my personal opinion of CE classes was they were 75% crap that didn't help agents AT ALL.  I decided to do something about it.  Here I sit with more than 100 instructor hours under my belt 5 years later.  Today I drafted the outline for submission to the real estate commission for yet another class I have written.  I am determined that when an agent walks out of MY CE class they will be a better agent. Today's draft was on the legal aspects and the reason behind buyers brokerage agreements.

I have enjoyed the heck out it.  I hope you will enjoy the "teaching" aspect as well.

Jan 15, 2018 02:40 PM #21
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I stepped away from mentoring (my version of teaching) and think it did negatively impact me.  I have stepped back into it as of last fall and it keeps me on top of my game.  We experienced agents tend to get to a level of auto-pilot that doesn't challenge the mind.  Helping new agents helps me keep sharp.

Jan 29, 2018 09:57 AM #22
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

That's really true. I believe so many people who are great in the business are here.

Jan 31, 2018 07:10 PM #23
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