Be the Hero in Your Market

Finding solutions to the housing crisis and improving your markets starts with knowing yourself and what you bring to the table.

April 1, 2011

I recently saw the new movie “I Am” from — of all people — Tom Shadyac, the director of “Ace Ventura,” “Liar, Liar,” and “Bruce Almighty.” But this movie wasn’t a slapstick comedy. It was a totally new work for him, a documentary. Shadyac had a spiritual awakening of sorts, and wanted to share the story. The movie was compelling — so much so, in fact, that a group of us went back to my place after it ended at 9 p.m. and spent the next two and a half hours talking about how we could make a difference in the world too.

One of the conversations we had was how we were supposed to find time in our busy lives to do something for the global population. My argument was that we didn’t have to work globally at all. If, as the movie suggested and many spiritual practices claim, we are all one, then it should be sufficient for us to do what we can to work with the people around us. And, if we make a difference here, it ripples out into the world. So how can we have a positive impact on our communities?

When I proposed this article, I wanted it to be similar to the one I wrote last year on how to create a whole new market for yourself with fix and flips, but looking not at what to do with the foreclosures after they happened but how to help people keep their homes. It was my solution to the housing crisis that I laid out in my blog, and I was going to show you how to implement it. But since I proposed the article, the market has changed and foreclosures aren’t as prominent as they were last year. And I’ve changed. I no longer want to tell you what to do to be the hero in your market. I want to inspire you to figure that out for yourself.

Start With You

The great thing about our world is that it is so diverse. Each of us is unique in our own way. You are unique. You have gifts that you bring to the table that no one else can bring in exactly the same combination. The key is figuring out what are those exact qualities are, and how you can integrate them into your business model and the vision you are working on for your community.

You can find clues to your gifts through introspection. What are you doing now that you could do for the rest of your life, whether you were paid for it or not? Your gifts are at the core essence of who you are. They permeate everything you do.

Take a history of your life. Write down all of the things you are most proud of, all of the ways in which you regularly look at and interact with the world, and all the services that you provide to everyone around you — whether they are paying you or not. These are all clues to your underlying gifts.

Raising Your Consciousness

The first step is to figuring out your gifts is through elevating your consciousness. You can start by raising your awareness of your marketplace. Make it your business to know everything that’s going on. Read all the papers. Talk to the city workers. Talk to the people in the school system. Find out what the issues are and look deep for the root causes. If you need help in learning how to look that deeply, I’d suggest picking up a copy of The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. It will show you how to take a systems approach to your research.

This may seem like a lot to do, but it isn’t. You’re already going to the town hall. You’re already taking your kids to school. You’re already attending networking meetings. Just ask questions. Ask people to tell you what they think about the issues the community faces. And then (and this is the hard part), reserve your judgment until you have gathered all the information you can. Give yourself a couple of months to do your research. It doesn’t have to be book research. It can be simply having conversations with the right people.

Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.” This will be true for you too. You’ll have to let go of the assumptions you’re making about what can and can’t be done. You’ll have to think in new lines to create a new paradigm to solve your problem. So really stretch your thought patterns and throw away the box you’ve been thinking in.

Raising Others’ Consciousness

Once you know what the problem is and you think you have a solution, then — and this is the important part — start to engage your community in conversation. It isn’t enough for you to be aware of the issues: You have to make others aware. Organize a meeting to discuss where residents want their community to go in the next few years. It doesn’t matter how big your city is; there are people in it who care and will take action.

Once you’ve engaged them, give them time to let your ideas sink in. No matter how open-minded we are, we all need time to process a perspective shift. When you turn someone’s perspective on its head, it takes time for them to reorient themselves and find their feet again. Have patience, but keep raising the issue because reorientation can give way to sticking our heads in the sand if we’re not constantly reinforced into the new paradigm.

Additionally, I’ve discovered one curious thing recently. People who are using their gifts towards a passionate goal become eloquent. They don’t have to try. Somehow, no matter how many vocabulary words they know or how they speak, their words become compelling and moving, and they inspire people. If you’ve always wanted to be eloquent, this is the way to get there. If you have passion and direction, eloquence is often waiting in the wings.

Getting There

I hope that many of the people who read this article will be inspired by it. You’ll even check out the resources and take all the steps I suggest. But even then, you might find yourself getting stuck at some point. You’ll want to drive change, but you’ll get overwhelmed and you won’t know how to do it.

If you find that, I want to invite you to contact me. If you have done the research and identified a problem but are stuck on a solution, please e-mail me at I will help you — free of charge — figure out a way to take your research and your gifts and apply them to your market. This is my unique gift, and if I can use it to bring about change, I want to do that.

Tom Shadyac is on his mission to get us to really look at how ourselves. I am on mine to bring a more feminine form of business into the world (I’m on my consciousness-raising phase). What’s your mission? How will you use it to bring about change in your market and, by association, the planet?

Kelle Sparta is the author ofThe Consultative Real Estate Agent: Building Relationships that Create Loyal Clients, Get More Referrals, and Increase Your Sales(AMACOM, 2005). She is also the founder of Sparta Success Systems , a real estate training company.