Life-work Balance Equals Success

Your sales professionals need balance in their lives—and you can help them achieve it.

May 1, 2002

For many of your sales associates, the pursuit of success often leads them on an exhilarating ride as they develop clients and close tough deals. But that ride can come screeching to a halt if it leads to burnout (see “Get a life,” page 42).

Is there a role for brokers and managers in helping their sales associates maintain a healthy balance between work and home life? Yes, says J. Lennox Scott, president of John L. Scott Real Estate, Seattle, Wash. In the following excerpt from his new book, Next Generation Real Estate (Dageforde Publishing Inc., 2002), Scott shares a plan brokers can use to help associates keep their lives in balance.


In any profession, it’s easy for individuals to become so consumed by their career that perspective is lost, causing life to become unbalanced. Unfortunately, this is all too common in the real estate profession and often results in practitioners becoming burned out.

To be successful in next-generation real estate, it’s vitally important for a practitioner to have a business plan, but even more important, the practitioner needs to develop a life plan.

Real estate companies must do their part to support their brokers and sales associates in this process by partnering with them in the development of life plans.

A life plan refers to a person’s entire life, of which the professional aspect is only one component. Not to be confused with a business plan, a life plan addresses the different elements of an individual’s personal life, such as

  • Spiritual growth
  • Personal growth
  • Physical health
  • Personal relationships
  • Parenting
  • Powerful work experience
  • Passion in life
  • Personal finances
  • Philanthropy
  • Responsibility to future generations
  • Community contributions
  • Environmental protection

What’s important to think about when developing a life plan is where the work life should fit in. Work life should be considered the economic engine for a life plan. When work life is fulfilled, the individual is able to make money and build personal confidence, which transfers to the other areas of life. It works in the other direction, too; as one gains confidence in other areas of life, the work life will benefit. Because there are so many different aspects to any one person’s life, it is important to organize those areas according to priority, so as to have a healthy balance. By doing so, the individual is better able to gain perspective and create an underlying purpose that provides life with an overall direction.

A life plan encourages people to set goals and develop affirmation. It communicates a sense of purpose and fosters positive thoughts and perspectives.

The motivation comes from looking deeply within to the underlying purpose in life, as opposed to looking to outside factors for motivation. When individuals take the time to organize the vital areas of their life, their focus is clearer and their outlook more positive. People with positive attitudes gravitate toward other people with positive attitudes. Furthermore, it takes less energy to achieve goals and move through life with a positive focus.

So how does this relate to real estate? Having a life plan allows real estate professionals to accomplish more in life, including their work life. It also has the potential to enhance relationships, both personal and professional. Having a life plan creates excitement that is reflected in interactions with business associates and clients. A life plan ultimately provides the tools to accomplish success in next generation real estate and in all areas of life.

Before developing a successful life plan there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, every person needs to ask, “What would I like to accomplish in life?” All your associates should have some idea of what they want to accomplish in life, whether it’s personally, professionally, or both. The answer to this question will provide the direction needed to develop the objectives in a life plan.

In beginning the life plan process, the following questions should be considered.

  • What do I want?
  • What do I want to see?
  • What do I want to be?
  • What kind of person do I want to become?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • What do I want to have?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What would I like to share?
  • What is working in my life and what isn’t?
  • What gets in my way?

Another way to go about this is to develop a want list made up of the eight highest priorities in your life. Making such a list will help uncover the answers to the previous questions.

Life is full of change. Therefore, a life plan should reflect change. The life plan developed at age 25 will probably be different by 40. The fundamental elements stay the same, but priorities shift depending on which stage in the life cycle has been reached. A life plan is best developed when one is young, because it provides strategic planning for the rest of that individual’s life.

It’s worthwhile to reexamine the life plan every year to keep sight of one’s goals. The life plan will evolve a great deal over the years, but it’s important to have constant direction and a plan from which to continually work.

Having a life plan is something I believe so strongly in that at John L. Scott Real Estate we are offering seminars to our brokers and sales associates to help them develop their life plans. Unfortunately, very few of us were taught about life plans in school, so it’s important for managers and other real estate leaders to teach practitioners about their importance. I am in partnership for success with the professionals in my company; therefore, I make it a priority to provide them with the resources they need to achieve their goals. Developing and sustaining a life plan is a very important element of success and something that all sales associates and their brokers should aspire to achieve together.

Help your associates get there

There are a number of ways you can help your associates develop a life plan to help them achieve a satisfying career and home life and avoid burnout. The approach taken by John L. Scott Real Estate, Seattle, Wash., is built around a daylong seminar offered to its associates. The company contracts with a trainer, Claudia Wicks, to host the seminars at locations around the company’s Pacific Northwest operating area.

The first half of the seminar is a personal planning component. The trainer and participants discuss the importance of developing life plans and what the plans should include. Wicks guides participants through the process using a workbook, “Strategic Planning for the Soul.” The workbook provides, among other things, guidance on creating “life accounts” for their goals, a personal mission statement, and an implementation plan.

The second half of the seminar concentrates on business-plan development. Wicks guides associates through the process that helps them identify their strengths and build a bottom-line oriented plan around those strengths.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the seminars,” says Shelley Rossi, director of public relations for John L. Scott Real Estate. “It’s making a great deal of difference for many of our associates.”

J. Lennox Scott is president of John L. Scott Real Estate in Seattle, Wash. The company has 2,800 sales associates in 108 offices in the Northwest United States. Scott can be reached at 206/230-7600.

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