Stress or Success? Outlook makes all the difference

Consider these two descriptions of real estate professionals in management: One relishes the responsibility of brokering deals with millions of dollars at stake. She untangles each snag in the process like a puzzle waiting to be solved. She’s sacrificed and worked hard for years to earn a position of trust, and she arrives at the office each morning ready to take on the challenges that brings. The other executive, meanwhile, has a tense meeting on the calendar with higher-ups who might disagree with her approach. She’s facing some tough calls that will affect real people she knows personally. Every day she’s aware that the risks involved in her decisions could derail not only a big deal, but the reputation she’s worked toward for years. As she watches the sun go down from her office window, she realizes she’s spent the last eight Saturdays at work.

It’s easy to consider the work experience of the first executive as the definition of success. Likewise, the second person comes off as struggling with a stress-filled position taking its toll. But really, these examples could describe the exact same person. In any career, and particularly in real estate, stress and success are two sides of the same coin.

Perspective counts a great deal in the development of a career and in how it affects your life. Leaders know that anything worth doing comes with a degree of uncertainty, setbacks and struggle. Becoming successful in the long run involves all of these things. The most satisfied professionals, though, use them as a source of motivation. Even when a given situation looks bad, it’s important to consider the circumstances in the broader context of your years-long effort to achieve career goals. It’s tough to remain confident all the time, but consciously managing pressure in the workplace has a significant impact on personal and professional growth.

Everyone does this differently, whether by surrounding themselves with people they trust, escaping into a hobby after hours, or volunteering to help people facing greater challenges. Regardless, successful professionals usually develop a healthy relationship with the demands of a high-stakes job and, above all, refuse to give up, even when the outlook is daunting. Most people in our industry have experienced this first hand in the last five years. As the market collapsed, staying in the game required commitment, faith in the industry, hard work and the right attitude over the long term. In my practice, for example, the challenges of this period led me to branch out into a new approach to executive recruitment as the demand for traditional headhunting dipped. With real estate finally in recovery, we’re now reaping the gains of that positive outlook and perseverance. And I’ve realized that one of the best ways to move forward is crossing the line mentally between feeling pressured at work and feeling successful when diving into the challenges at hand.

For more than two decades, Christopher Frederick has helped place leaders with some of the largest companies in real estate. To learn more about how we can enhance your next executive search, contact Chris Hingle at Or visit our website at where you can also find exclusive job listings for real estate executives.