Triggers and Reactions

It’s no secret that the real estate and mortgage business are filled with problems. It can be frustrating because the majority of problems you face are outside your control, i.e. low appraisals, repair issues, buyers who get cold feet. These are what I refer to as “triggers.” A trigger is an event or thing that causes an emotional disturbance within you – fear, envy, scarcity, anger, frustration, etc. Triggers may also cause joyful reactions but most people don’t need help dealing with the good stuff.

Respond vs React

Triggers that cause negative emotions tend to cause us to react, usually in a negative way. This can come in the form of distraction, anger, projection or anything else that doesn’t serve us long term. What we need to learn is to identify our triggers upfront and then have a plan or an approach in place so that we choose to respond rather than react. Reacting is allowing the emotion to guide your actions or behavior. You might yell, shut down, or send a nasty email. Responding, on the other hand, is waiting until you have assessed the situation and calmed down before you take any action.

A Plan for Response

In all cases, except those that actually threaten our lives or the lives of others, we want to be responding not reacting. A person who gives considered responses rather than flying off the handle when something goes awry is a person who is well-respected, easy to work with, and easy to refer. When something triggers you, use this four step process for calming your reaction and giving yourself space to respond.

Step 1 – Become aware you are triggered.

Acknowledge that you are emotionally disturbed, i.e. you are angry, you are frustrated, you are sad, you are depressed, you feel hopeless, and have a choice to either react or respond. Keep the emotion from becoming a long-term feeling. Getting aware that you are not your thoughts, you are not your emotions, will help you remain detached from what your body has been patterned to do based on your past experiences. Having space between your emotional reactions and how you handle them will allow you to be more in control.

Step 2 – Identify what preference is not being net.

Triggers only occur when your preferences aren’t being met. Most preferences are created by our ego and really aren’t as important as they seem. It is an ongoing journey to manage our preferences and triggers. The fewer preferences we have based on other people’s actions or behaviors, the more joy we’ll have in life and our business. That’s not to say we can’t have standards and boundaries. They simply need to be clear and agreed to by the people we do business with. Then everyone knows what to expect.

Step 3 – Recognize your hallucination.

If you figure out what your hallucination is when your trigger isn’t met, you will understand why it is bothering you so much. Your hallucination is the worst-case scenario that you are worried about. The goal again is to have a plan that enables you to respond, not react and to admit you are hallucinating. Figuring it out helps make it more predictable. So many of us immediately go to the worst-case scenario as soon as something doesn’t go as planned. We start thinking we’re going to lose the client forever, or worse yet, we’re going to be a total failure and not be able to provide for our family, even when the situation had nothing to do with us and was totally outside of our control. What I encourage you to do when a trigger causes you to hallucinate about all the bad things that are going to happen is to state the trigger out loud. Say, “My trigger is X because my preference of Y isn’t being met, so I’m hallucinating that Z is going to happen.” Just the act of saying it out loud is often enough to see the ridiculousness of what your trigger is causing you to feel.

Step 4 – Avoid or grow.

The last step, and certainly the most important, is to decide to grow through the trigger or strive to avoid it. Let’s take for example a preference for not getting stuck in traffic. When it happens you could choose to grow through it. You could use the time to raise your energy and do a mini meditation, you could be more grateful, be more present, listen to a podcast, or do something else that allows you to grow and become more patient. You could even make calls to prospects and referral partners.

Or you could avoid it. You could say I’m just not going to drive at this time of day, or I’m just not going to take this route because you don’t think there’s any way that you could grow through it. That’s okay. My hope would be that you would always try to grow through it first. But we all need to give ourselves permission to draw the line when we simply can’t.

Importance of Trigger Management

It’s important to manage triggers because triggers are what derail people every day. Triggers cause individuals to become ineffective and produce negative energy. No one likes to work with or be around someone who has negative energy. It causes a domino effect. Maybe you get a couple of triggers strung together. Now you’ve had a bad day. Then you bring it home and you’re not present with your family because you’re still dwelling on those triggers and negative feelings. You don’t exercise and you don’t take care of yourself. Without the ability to manage your triggers you end up creating a whirlwind of chaos.

The goal is to bring joyful energy into every situation. I love this quote by Brendon Burchard from The Power of Personal Responsibility:

“The power plant doesn’t have energy, it generates energy. Similarly, we don’t have an attitude, we generate one.”

Our energy and attitudes have to be generated every single day. Allowing our triggers to drain our positive energy and replace it with negativity and self-doubt does not serve us.

Business Systems

A system can be defined as a procedure, process, or method, or course of action. Systems are put in place to achieve a specific result. They are the critical building blocks of your business. When effective, they work together to provide results that are consistent, measurable, benefit your client, and validate and enhance your value proposition.

For your business to be successful you need to have a processing flow that is documented from start to finish. You can create massive opportunity but if you don’t have a solid plan to handle it you will not convert well or create the experience needed to ensure your clients come back and refer you to other people.

Regardless of whether you are in mortgage or real estate, your business system should be made up of three parts: opportunity – which is how you prospect and nurture leads, pipeline management – which is how you handle deals in progress, and database management – which is how you keep in contact with your past clients and mine them for referrals. Within each of these sections you have what I call blueprints or recipes. These are the written step-by-step formulas that you use to accomplish the things you do.

Unless you work for a really unique company, it is unlikely that these written systems will exist in your company. I’m constantly amazed that our industry lacks this level of professionalism and the technology required to succeed. In most cases it will be up to you to determine how you like to work and what is effective. If you aren’t by nature a person who has a lot of discipline and structure in your business, writing out these blueprints or recipes – how do I handle leads referred, how and when do I communicate during the process, and how do I stay in touch with my database after closing – will give you a consistent method of performing these tasks.

Once you have documented systems in place then if you have a support team, you must communicate with them exactly how they supposed to work. Then if things don’t work as planned you’ll know if the system needs to be tweaked or if clearer communication and teaching of what is expected is required. The beauty of a blueprint is that you can modify or change it.



An important aspect of prospecting is creating an experience and process flow for how you handle any lead or referral. Whether on the phone or in person you should decide ahead of time what discussion flow and tools you’re going to use. You will also share this with anyone that refers business to you so they know what to expect as well. This business system is all about how you handle new leads. It is a blueprint or recipe that contains everything about what to do when you receive a lead. It should ensure that every time you are presented with an opportunity you go through the same ritual. This should include an incubation plan based on where the prospect is in the buying cycle. If your CRM or customer relationship manager, doesn’t have call, email or text campaigns built you should invest in one that does or create your own.



You need to create a process flow and communication system that you can use once a deal enters pipeline. You know exactly what it is you are supposed to be doing every step of the way. You know what your role and responsibilities are as well as the roles and responsibilities of others. You know the deadlines you need to stick with based on contingency removal dates and close of escrow dates. Managing your pipeline with consistency is the key to ensuring your database will come back to you for future loan or real estate needs and refer clients to you. All communication should be layered with your Referral Efficiency Script (request for 2 referrals per year) and allow them to provide feedback.



How you manage your database long-term will determine how successful you are in creating a sustainable business. If you receive 2 referrals from every person you do business with and convert 50%  into closed sales, you will already have built a predictable flow of business that will stay consistent. Building a system that you commit to upfront will ensure that in any market you follow through on obtaining as much business as possible.

An effective and efficient way to manage your database is to choose the right Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) that does the follow-up and tracking for you. It takes into consideration your marketing plan and holds you accountable. Having a CRM that sends emails, tracks interest rates, market values and includes direct mail will make it easier to stay in touch. It should also tell you when clients have birthdays and transaction anniversaries so you have an opportunity to call them.

If you don’t commit to having business systems, your business will run you and you will not have replicable results. Customers want to work with people who are methodical and yet relational. You need to build a business where you offer both!

I AM Statements

One of the things that works for me in maintaining a positive and successful mindset is to focus on a series of I AM statements every morning. These are statements that describe who I need to be in order to run a sustainable business and cultivate the energy I need to keep me disciplined and undistracted. For example, I AM patient, I AM clear, I AM smart, I AM grateful, and I AM courageous.


Our Brains are Not Hardwired

Scientists used to believe that our brains were hard-wired. That once we reached adulthood we were stuck with what we had. But then, after many more studies and testing, they discovered that the brain is more “soft-wired.” It is possible for it to evolve and change as the information and sensory data we feed to it changes.

The most remarkable thing is that it will evolve and relearn even when we are giving it information that may not yet be reality. It seems the brain can’t actually distinguish between an actual event and an imagined one. That’s why our dreams often seem so real. So by learning to control our thoughts we can deliberately rewire our brains to make ourselves more successful and fulfilled. We can learn to have success mindsets. Simply seeing ourselves as successful is the first step to eventually making success a reality. That’s also why so many athletes use visualization to help them perform at a much higher level.


The Power of I AM

The brain’s ability to learn and respond to imagery is exactly what makes I AM statements so powerful. Start by taking a hard look at your mindset. What areas do you need to change or improve in order to have a mindset that is geared for sustainable success? These are the areas that you want to build “I AM” statements around.

For example, if you have a mindset that says I can’t be successful because there is always too much to do, I’m constantly overwhelmed, then you may need I AM statements like these: I AM organized. I AM prioritizing my business daily. I AM not distracted easily. Or if you have a scarcity mindset, you may want I AM statements like: I AM prospering. I AM confident. I AM surrounded by abundance.

I encourage you to spend a few moments reviewing your I AM statements every day so that you internalize them. This is the quickest way of reprogramming your brain to build, and believe in, a mindset that has you focused on becoming the person you want to become. Then include daily non-negotiable activities in your business plan. They should remind you of the new you and what this new person can do, not what the old you with the old mindset would done.

To help get you started, here’s a series of I AM statements geared toward business:

I am ready for this day. I am equipped and empowered. I am not going to let anyone steal my joy. I am focused on things that are in alignment with my goals or mission. I am focused and clear on what I need to accomplish today. I will not allow triggers to disrupt my plan.