Today, I’d like to point you to a very popular article that was published on LinkedIn a couple of weeks
ago. Perhaps you’ve read it already—it has over 180,000 views and has generated a lot of discussion online.
The article was written by business author Bruce Kasanoff, and it focuses on the science behind the most successful careers.
So, what’s the big deal?
Bruce does a great job of describing what holds most people back from being more successful in their careers—an unshakeable belief in the high likelihood of their own success.
However, he approaches this topic from an unexpected psychological angle—how an individual’s career can be profoundly impacted by the placebo effect. Here is an excerpt from his article:
I recently read a research study, Placebo Sleep Affects Cognitive Functioning, in which researchers made up an elaborate ruse to convince people who got a bad night's sleep that they actually got a good night's sleep. Here's a bit of what the researchers told their test subjects...
(Participants were) informed of a new technique whereby the previous night’s percentage of REM sleep could be determined by measuring the lingering biological measurements of heart rate, pulse, and brainwave frequency the next day.
P.S. This is all nonsense; the researchers made it up.
Sure enough, sleep-deprived subjects who were told they slept soundly actually performed better on the PASAT test of auditory attention and speed of processing.
This, of course, is yet another instance of the placebo effect. Researchers Christina Draganich and Kristi Erdal point out that while the placebo effect is commonly thought of in the context of drugs, it can also extend to many elements of everyday life such as intoxication, weight loss, rash reaction to fake poison ivy, etc.
When it comes to the placebo effect, the details matter, in ways that are difficult to anticipate. One study, for example, found that test subjects only demonstrated an increase in mental acuity when they paid full price for an energy drink they believed would improve their mental acuity. Those who paid a discounted price saw no benefit (Shiv, Carmon, and Ariely, 2005).
This research (and a much wider body of experimentation) suggests that what the mind believes to be true is a very powerful thing—especially when it comes to a person’s career. Bruce summarizes it this way:
In short, you don't need more training to be qualified for a promotion. You don't need caffeine to wake up. You don't need a good night's sleep to feel rested. It just takes a credible researcher in a professional setting to tell you that you have what you need.
As a coach to the real estate agents you manage, this is a very important principle to understand—you are the credible researcher in the professional setting!
It’s your job to understand what your agents believe about themselves and their propensity for success. If you neglect this responsibility, your agents will be left to listen to the random voices that speak into their lives. While some of these voices might be positive and helpful, most of them will be negative and counterproductive.
Bruce summarizes his admonition from a self-help perspective:
…don't take on this challenge by yourself. Surround yourself with credible evidence that good things are headed your way. Spend time in the company of positive, supportive people. Research techniques that you believe will work for you. Do whatever it takes to build a strong belief in your mind that success is in your future.
Your agents need your help. Be a great coach by helping them believe the right things about their success. There is no better win-win arrangement.