Give the Cape a Break, Focus on Your Business


REALTORS® are natural helpers. It’s in your DNA to be a problem solver. Whether you are a broker, manager, or broker/owner, you spend much of your time seeking out solutions to others’ concerns and issues.

It’s an admirable trait, and invaluable to those that you help. It can also simultaneously become a hindrance to your productivity.

Have you heard of “Cape Theory”? It’s the concept that our natural instinct is to spend as much time as we can doing the things that make us feel like a superhero. Saving others from problems they can’t solve themselves is as good as it gets. It gives the brain an oxytocin rush, becoming an addictive and self-reinforcing behavior.

It can also disincentivize you from focusing on the more mundane, difficult, necessary tasks of daily business building. Being available at every moment to everyone feels like a great service mindset, but it’s often unnecessary and even problematic in the precedent that it sets.

Sales people need time set aside every day to work ON their business, not just IN their business. If your goal is to make five sphere calls, write five postcards and comment on five potential clients’ social media updates every day, it might not happen without structured planning in order to be undistracted from that prospecting every morning. 

That client who has an urgent transaction question will leave a voicemail or text. You’ll get back to them in an appropriate timeframe. The client that calls six times a day to bounce the emotion of the moment off their broker can probably wait for a single follow-up call later in the day.

It is the same story for managers. We love our brokers and will support them to no end when they have urgent and important questions. It’s a long running joke, though, that “Got a minute?” comprises 90 percent of many managers’ days. Time has to be set aside to improve and grow the business. It can’t all be maintenance.

You’ve undoubtedly seen the studies that show how multi-tasking rarely results in doing many things well at the same time. You usually end up doing many things poorly and inefficiently in disjointed stints. When you’re always available to anyone at any time, your business becomes a multitasking mess.

You are a REALTOR®, though. You love to wear the cape, and it’s admirable. You volunteer with your association, help out other brokers in the office, answer to your clients’ every whim, not to mention catering to the attention of your friends and family. 

You can wear the cape. You have to schedule time to take it off, though. 

Picture all of the questions, calls, emails, and messages you get every day as a thousand little hot, glowing embers of coal. Do they all need to be extinguished the minute you see them, or will some of them just burn out on their own? If they’re not really a fire, don’t let them override everything else you’re doing by treating them like a fire.

Time block. Use your door lock. Forgive yourself for being selfish. You deserve it, and so does your career.

Start every day with an undivided focus on building your business. You’ll feel and be more productive by committing to this self-investment. Then, you can spend the rest of your time playing Superman for your clients, your company, and your association. You can’t do it all without having a solid growth-building system for your core business. 

Even Clark Kent had a day job. 

Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth and was the 2017 President of Seattle King County REALTORS®. You can find his team at and


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