By Gino Blefari

In an earlier blog post about the NAHREP 10 that I wrote for my regular column, “Thursday Thoughts on Leadership,” I said this about being in the top 10%:

The real estate business is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart. It’s for those of us who get sick to our stomach if we’re not in the top 10% of any competitive activity.

What do I mean by that? Well, it’s simple. At the core, real estate is an inherently competitive business. If you’re a true real estate agent, you won’t just want to be good at what you do; you’ll want to be the very best. You’ll want to disrupt current practices, dislodge your competitors and deliver results that put you on top of the pack. And really, that’s how it should be. Jim Rohn, best-selling author and famed speaker once said that you should never join an easy crowd where the expectations are low because the problem with that is you won’t grow.

Being at the top is also a matter of fulfillment. Everyone wants to lead a fulfilling life but if you think about how many hours each day and days each week we spend at work, a lot of life happens on the job. This means that in order to live a fulfilling life, you must find fulfillment in the work you do. Being at the top of your profession certainly goes a long way toward achieving that goal.

As competitive professionals in real estate, we should always want to be among the toughest, brightest and strongest in our industry. When we’re in the top 10% among those who don’t take the job seriously—maybe they’re in real estate part time or just don’t care enough to grow—that doesn’t prove much but when we’re at the top among the finest in our field, the accomplishment has a whole new meaning. Competition drives growth because it forces us to constantly re-evaluate our practices in order to maintain our competitive edge.

Legendary entrepreneur and life coach Tony Robbins also echoed this sentiment. He said, “Your income right now is a result of your standards, it is not the industry, it is not the economy.” Set high standards for yourself and results will follow. If your goal is to be in the top 10% among the best of the best, then every action you take after that goal is set will be driven by your desire to achieve it, no matter what obstacles—financial, logistical or otherwise—are put in your way.

One way to get a jump-start on accomplishing that goal right now is to read books and study the business of real estate. As an example, when I was a brand-new agent I read and re-read then read again the U.S. Master Tax Guide, which allowed me to know more about real estate taxes than most of the CPAs or accountants I worked with. In fact, early in my career, I was able to sell three houses to a client solely because I knew about a little-known loophole regarding what to do when a property was taken by eminent domain and the rollover time got extended.

So, what’s the message? Learn as much as about this business as you can. Help clients buy and sell as many houses as you can. Do as much as you can all the time to keep your business fresh and innovative. Because even if you’re on top today, there’s no guarantee you’ll still be there tomorrow.