The evil of envy

I never would have considered envy to be such a potent emotion. Prior to my experiences in real estate I never gave envy a second thought. This is not to say that other occupations are free from serious doses of envy, but I had never experienced the toxic swirl of emotion envy can cause in any of my prior careers. As a managing broker and real estate agent, I have had a front row seat to the cage match among both the envied and the envious.

In my opinion, the word envy seems so benign as compared to hate, anger, or fear, but in reality it can be a stiff cocktail of many powerful emotions, making it underestimated. The negative impact of envy is compounded because it's harmful to both the envied and the envious. These hateful emotions stifle all ability to build. Here are some observations I have made regarding envy in the context of the real estate industry:

Envy among real estate agents is not limited to one agent's resentment toward another's success. I have seen and admittedly participated in resentful conversations directed at entire companies (the successful ones of course). In reality, the offending agents have very little actual knowledge of the envied agents' success. Many times the success is misunderstood and overestimated. I have personally watched agents who were close friends become sworn enemies as the career of one skyrocketed and the other just scraped by.

In thinking about top producers (I realize I'm making wide generalizations), these agents have fought long and hard for their success, creating opportunities for many of their colleagues along the way. Not one top producer got to where they are without long days, long weekends, and an incredible amount of stress. It's very easy to assume these top producing agents are laughing all the way to the bank, but in reality the profit margins are small and the mistakes are costly.

I'm not saying some of these agents don't make a great living, but when you consider the long term costs and risks such as liability, overhead, taxes, fluctuating market conditions, and so on, it is not an easy road. For example, if a top producer has two or three assistants, a couple buyer's agents, listing specialists, and a big fat marketing bill every month, and suddenly the market turns, it can all be gone very quickly.

My message is this: For every top producer, don't listen to the critics, ignore the animosity, and keep doing what you do. Keep creating jobs for assistants, agents, and printing and web companies. Keep taking listings that keep the office phones ringing for the next generation of top producers. Stay positive, share your insights, and show the rest of the real estate community that top producers are great people.

To any agent who is envious, you can never find your own path if your eyes are on someone else's business. As the Buddhists say, "Take joy in the good fortune of another."

Nathan Froelich is the CEO and co-founder of BreakthroughBroker.com. Send your feedback to Nathan at nathan@breakthroughbroker.com.