A couple of weeks ago, I published one of my Power Tools videos called Writing for Success, which can be viewed here. One of the shortcomings of that quick-hit video format is that I can’t go into depth on the subject and provide specific examples. Because I really think that this is a powerful subject, I wanted to do a Part Deux.

The gist of the original post revolved around a weekly assignment I have “had” to do for a class I am taking in my MBA program called Creativity and Innovation in Entrepreneurship. It’s the first time in my life where I genuinely enjoyed doing homework. The assignment is called a Socratic Skill Builder.

The Socratic Method of teaching involves asking thought-provoking questions to create a dialogue on a subject. It’s not really so much about reciting or regurgitating rote fact. It’s much more about using your intuition to defend a position. In our assignment, we were asked a series of questions related to the topic of the week and asked to write our thoughts on the subject. There were usually 7 questions and we were supposed to write at least 100 words per question. We were encouraged to start, stop, think, and start again, returning to the assignment multiple times throughout the week.

I think that, on average, I was writing somewhere around 3000 words a week. Honestly, once I got started, I just couldn’t stop (this might not surprise some of you who have read this blog for a while).

So, what kinds of questions, you ask? Here are some samples to consider:

  • What is Entrepreneurship? Provide, in your own words, a definition of entrepreneurship.
  • In your own words, describe how empathy applies to entrepreneurship. What does empathy have to do with entrepreneurship?  Is it an important factor to successful entrepreneurship?
  • What are the TOP TEN biggest challenges facing an entrepreneur starting a new business (and explain why, for each issue)?
  • Explain why you believe it is (or is not) important that business plans, business models, and pitches be succinct (short in duration). Why do so many experts request one-page business plans? Do you agree that a one-page plan should be preferred, and why?

You get the drift. Discussion-based, critical thinking questions asked specifically to get opinion and the defense of that opinion were the name of the game in these assignments.

As I wrote, though, I got so much clarity. I have pages of notes, outside of what I was typing, of things to consider for the future or tweak in the present in my brokerage and in life. It was truly an enlightening experience.

It was also a stark reminder that I do not take the time to sit down and reflect enough. I don’t take time to really think without there being an immediate need right in front of me. It was an important realization that has resulted in me changing two things moving forward. I am going to go over those two things and give you your very own Socratic Skill Builder in the next few paragraphs.

Scheduling Time to Think

I loved doing these so much that I have scheduled time, every single month, to ask and answer my own questions. Some will be static every month and some will change. Some will be review and some will be targeted to the future. I’ll share some of those questions in a minute. You’re probably likely to see some of my responses show up as posts here.

These aren’t going to be sessions during the work day. There are just too many distractions. These will be late-night, glass of wine or whiskey, in my office after the family goes to bed, thought sessions. They will be filed and referred back to over time. They will be living and breathing evolutionary thought exercises.

The 30,000 View

I have mentioned this multiple times on this blog, but I think it is worth bringing back up as an introduction to this paragraph. In our role as Realtor, it is very easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of the job. This needs to be done, that needs to be sent to title, and so on. The reality is that it is important, vitally important, for us to have a plan and reflect on that plan periodically.

The view from the driver’s seat of a car and the view from the airplane window of the same road are very different things. In the former, you can see just what’s in front of you. In the latter, you can see everything that might affect your ability to reach your destination. It is that view that gets looked over in favor of what is right in front of us because, well, it’s what is right in front of us.

I would argue that the 30,000 view is more important for your long-term success than the thing that needs to be scanned and emailed right this second. My encouragement to you is that you would regularly, once a week, revisit your strategic plan, or your goal, or your vision board, or whatever it is that you use to guide your business. Just taking a few minutes to back up, look at the big picture, and then dive back in will give you encouragement to deal with the crazy and a sense of direction.

My goal, moving forward, is to start my Monday mornings, before I even pick up my phone, by referring back to the big picture, my strategic plan.

Your Socratic Skill Builder

OK, so here is your assignment, should you choose to accept it. Answer the following questions, with a minimum of 100 words per question, using your experience, knowledge, and intuition. This is not a research project. It is an opinion journal. Take your time. It is ok to come back to it over and over again.

  1. What are the three biggest threats to your business? Why? What can you do to minimize these threats?
  2. What process or system is missing in your business that would make you better? Why would it make you better? By having that in place, what more would you be able to do?
  3. What would you do with your time if you had ten extra hours each week? Would it be something in your business or personal life? What could you change to get ten extra hours?
  4. What are the three biggest opportunities in your business? What excuse is keeping you from going after those? What can you do to eliminate that excuse?
  5. If you could go back to the beginning of your career and tell yourself one thing, what would it be? Why? What would your advice be to yourself?
  6. What do you want your business to look like in 5 years? Money goals? Team goals? Production goals? What will that allow you to do in your personal life?
  7. How important is it for Realtors to be involved in their communities, and why? The Realtor community, your immediate community, local organizations, etc.

There you go. Your very own Socratic Skill Builder. If you want to share them with me, please do. I’d love to see them. If not, that’s ok too. The thought that you sat down to write and think about your business is more than enough satisfaction for me. The better you are, the better we all are.

I would encourage you to come up with a list of questions to ask yourself from time to time. You might be surprised what you find out when you write to yourself. Don’t talk to yourself, though. People will think you’re crazy.

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