Someone once said that the level of success we achieve in life has much more to do with our tenacity than our talent. It's true. There are a lot of extremely talented people out there today working as loan originators who are doing so-so, even struggling to survive. While they have the essential skills it takes to do well in mortgage lending — knowledge, experience, professionalism, etc. — they lack the fire, drive, tenacity and "heart" to succeed. 

I talk with sales managers and mortgage company broker/owners all the time who face this dilemma with some of their originators. "I just don't understand it," I hear them say. "That guy has all the right stuff to be successful. He has the personality, the brainpower and the contacts. We trained him well and provided him with the resources to thrive in this business. And yet he is failing. Why?" 

Three decades spent in this industry has shown me there are certain common characteristics of successful mortgage loan originators.  While many come from different walks of life and conduct their business in various ways, most all possess a universal trait: ego-drive. Ego-drive is a personal need for achievement in every endeavor: sports, education, career, life. Those individuals with a strong ego-drive are always trying to better themselves. They are motivated by challenges, opportunities, and the high standards they themselves create. Donald Trump has a strong ego-drive, as does Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Hillary Clinton and Calvin Klein. Ego-drive is a positive, propelling force in their lives and the center point of their success.

Now back to you. How is your ego-drive right now? Read the following five statements. Consider your personal ego-drive right now and respond with an honest true or false.

1. I am an extremely competitive person.

2. I push myself hard to do more and try harder.

3. I care how I stack up against my colleagues and peers.

4. I have challenging personal goals set for my business this year.

5. I see myself advancing to a production level far beyond where I am at right now.

Your assessment reveals the attitude you own to push yourself through your job day by day, and eventually to where you want to be. A handful of true answers mean your ego-drive is strong, positive, and propelling you forward. You are driven by an internal energy and initiative to achieve. For you, failure is not an option and success is absolutely inevitable. 

On the other hand, what if you have too many false answers to the assessment? Maybe you're less than pleased with what you just learned about your ego-drive. Want to change things? 

Begin by taking a greater ownership for your current results and your potential future. You have to want success for your own gratification (ego-drive perfectly defined) and realize that no one can motivate you, challenge you, and appreciate what you do more than you. Your current standing as a loan originator — production volume, income, ranking within your company — is not forced on you by external circumstances such as mortgage interest rates or the economy. It is created solely by you, by how you think and by what you are willing to do (or not do) every single day. 

The arch enemy of ego-drive is complacency, defined as not being all that happy with what you have, just not unhappy enough to do something about it. Is that you? Have you conformed to mediocrity or accepted the status-quo as your destiny? Perhaps ego-drive is something foreign to you, or maybe you lost it somewhere along the way. Just remember that it is virtually impossible to do well in this business (let alone survive) without a strong desire or passion to push yourself beyond your present reality, if not for any other reason, because you "want it bad." 

Yes, ego-drive is perhaps the most powerful force in your career.  It can make you or break you. Your ego-drive says, above all else, that you believe in yourself and your chances for success, and that alone says a lot about you.