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| 6 minute read

To Be A Better Real Estate Team Leader, Stop Trying So Hard

Dave Crumby Oct 14, 21

Developing charisma through the ancient Chinese principle of wu wei

As a real estate team leader, your success is contingent on your ability to build relationships with people. Your relationship-building skills are how you earn the trust of your clients, inspire your team to do great work, build a referral network with other agents, negotiate wins for your buyers and sellers—your relationships are everything. 

And the most successful real estate team leaders—the ones who have the strongest networks of relationships—they radiate charisma.

Charisma is a valuable asset for a real estate team leader. When a charismatic person speaks, we all listen. We hear their genuine passion, and we trust them. We are inspired by them. We want to be in their inner circle. We want to help them further their mission.

Can charisma be learned? According to a professor at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, charisma is 50% innate and 50% trained.

One way to develop more charisma is to harness the ancient Chinese principle of wu wei.

Wu wei and the art of not trying too hard

Wu wei (pronounced “oooo-way”) is a principle of Taoism, and it is comparable to “flow state” or being “in the zone.” When a person is in wu wei, they can navigate challenging tasks and complex social situations effortlessly. It’s a feeling of proficient calm, where the mind is clear and focused and ideas flow easily.

In her Brain Pickings article about wu wei, Maria Popova shares this quote from professor and author Dr. Edward Slingerland:

”Wu-wei literally translates as “no trying” or “no doing,” but it’s not at all about dull inaction. In fact, it refers to the dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person who is optimally active and effective. People in wu-wei feel as if they are doing nothing, while at the same time they might be creating a brilliant work of art, smoothly negotiating a complex social situation, or even bringing the entire world into harmonious order.”

Wu wei can also be translated as “not forcing.” This principle stems from Taoism, which is all about aligning with nature and going with the flow. Alan Watts, an English theologian who popularized Taoism in the Western world, described wu we as sailing instead of rowing a boat. When you row a boat, he explained, you’re pushing against the water, trying to force your boat to move against the current. When you sail, you work with nature—with the wind—to move forward.

How does wu wei make you more charismatic?

Imagine you’re about to walk into a listing presentation with a potential client. You close your eyes, take a deep breath—and when you open your eyes, your mind is clear and calm and focused.

You step into the room and warmly greet the clients. You are genuinely happy to see them, and they pick up on that right away.

You begin your pitch, but it’s really more of a conversation. You’ve done this a million times, and you know the order in which to present everything, but you’re not following a script. You’re a human, not some sales robot. You’re fully engaged in the moment, and the conversation is full of spontaneous interjections and side-notes. You might even lose your train of thought for a moment, but you won’t panic, because you are deep in wu wei, that paradoxical state of effortless, unforced action. You are in the zone. You are radiating charisma.

And because your presentation is really more of a conversation, and nothing feels forced or phony, your audience can clearly see that your virtue is intrinsic. They can see you for who you truly are—a passionate real estate agent who genuinely wants to help them sell their current home so they can move into their dream home.

And that is how wu wei allows you to be your most charismatic self.

“'One of the signals that a person is in wu-wei,' says Slingerland, 'is that the person has de (pronounced duh), translated as virtue,  power, or charismatic power.' They don’t need to issue threats or offer rewards because others want to follow them. If you have de, people like you, trust you, and relax around you. This is the payoff of wu-wei. When your generosity is sincere, you draw people to you, and are, in effect, charismatic. If you can reach a state of wu-wei, you’ll get de.”
- Whitney Johnson, CEO and founder of boutique consultancy WLJ, from her article Lead Without Trying So Hard

Learn to harness the power of wu wei for real estate success

There are no guaranteed steps to transport you into a state of wu wei, but there are some strategies you can try to help you get there.

  1. Focus on the part of the work you enjoy. And if the work is really just a drag, try to maintain a mindset of acceptance, and focus on the greater purpose it serves. Enjoyment and purpose energize the mind.
  2. Be prepared. If you already possess the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish a task, such as a listing presentation, it will be easier to get into a state of wu wei. Instead of trying to remember all the right things to say, the words will flow naturally, because they’re already embedded deep in your mind. The same thing goes for having business processes set in place—when you already have all of the steps planned out, you won’t be scrambling to figure out what you need to talk to your client about next. When you’re prepared—backed by your skills, knowledge, and process—you can be more present, relaxed, and authentic, no matter the situation.
  3. Be relaxed and alert. Your mind must be calm if you want to enter wu wei. Exercise, deep breathing, and healthy eating can help you attain a calmer mindset.
  4. Take regular breaks to recharge and refresh. Burnout is the enemy of wu wei.

And remember, don't force it. Wu wei is a practice in going with the flow, abandoning rigidity, and embracing spontaneity. Yeah, you have to put forth some effort to get into the zone. Just don't try too hard.

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Click here to download the guide: The Rule of Three

About Dave Crumby

Dave is the Chairman of Firepoint / Realvolve, a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) platform built expressly for real estate agents. Dave began his real estate career as an agent ...

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