Pugnacious Practice

Yesterday evening, I took Homer out for a long walk to Balboa Park.  We made our way to one of his favorite spots, the Redwood Circle.  He loves this little open lawn surrounded by big trees because it is home to dozens of grey squirrels:  his favorite stalking target.  He’d just spotted a plump adult and the two of them were in a frozen stare-down when I saw a couple of guys coming down the hill carrying a gym bag.  They made their way to the center of the Circle and set about wrapping their hands in Ace bandages and then strapping on boxing gloves.  I could tell from the conversation they were speaking Italian.

Next thing you know, they are squaring off, putting the dukes up and flailing away at one another.  I knew this was practice because I’d observed their friendly conversation prior to the fight, but they were really pounding away at one another.  It was as intense and focused as anything I’ve ever seen in the ring.  This heavy sparring went on for about forty minutes with just a couple of breaks:  the first when one fighter split his upper lip and needed a moment to get the bleeding under control;  the second when the other fighter developed a bloody nose.  Each time, when the fists came down, the friendly Italian banter returned.  And each time, after a few minutes to regroup, they returned to more serious fighting.

When they finally finished, I walked over with Homer and learned that they are indeed from Italy, Livorno to be exact, and that they belong to a gym and boxing club there.  They are in America for an extended trip this summer and wanted to keep their boxing skills sharp.  They’d left their hotel a few blocks away and came to what seemed to be the best place to practice:  the park.

I walked home thinking about what I’d seen.  These guys were very serious about their boxing.  I can’t imagine hitting anyone like that unless I was insane with anger; but they weren’t.  They were good friends practicing a violent sport intensely.

Yesterday we were supposed to have a national training session on the Help-U-Sell Buyer Data Sheet and using it to secure working relationships with potential buyers who call the office.  The session was designed to include several role plays and attendees were supposed to leave with the instruction to pick a partner and role play on their own.  I say ‘supposed to’ because about five minutes prior to the start of the session, GoToMeeting crashed;  not just our session, the whole system.  It was thirty minutes before it came back online and by then we’d already put the training off for a week.

Here’s the point:  the way those boxers were going after each other — seriously, intently, nothing held back — that’s the way our guys need to be practicing their phone skills.  Really:  if I could only tell a real estate broker one single thing that would absolutely increase production and improve the bottom line, it would be to work on the Buyer Inquiry and how that call is handled in the office.  Period.  It’s a skill that has to be practiced constantly:  role play after role play after role play.  The best offices I’ve ever seen were ones that orchestrated this kind of practice every week.  It takes constant practice to get over the natural discomfort that comes with exposing your sill level before your peers, but once that hurdle is overcome, the real value of practice comes out.  Practice is serious business with a serious payoff.  You owe it to yourself and your career to commit to it on a weekly if not daily basis.

For a little inspiration, here is a video I shot of these two friends duking it out in the park: