Residential Magazine

‘I Did My Best’ Isn’t Enough

High-performing originators avoid excuses and take concrete steps to achieve success

By Carl White

Two different mindsets often separate top-performing mortgage originators from those who struggle to find success: “I did my best” versus “I’m doing what it takes.” These two approaches have often been the difference between the originators who are struggling — or have left the business — and those who are having their best year ever.

Reflect on your own mindset and habits. Ask yourself, am I merely doing my best, or am I doing what it takes to succeed in this business?

Comfortable complacency

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “I did my best,” countless times throughout your career. Although this mindset may seem innocuous on the surface, it often becomes a limiting belief that holds back many originators from reaching their true potential.

“I did my best” is the opening line for athletes who’ve lost the game and every concession speech by a candidate for public office. They’re the words of someone who has lost.

“The ‘I did my best’ mindset can be particularly harmful for originators who constantly search for a secret weapon, a magic bean or the next shiny object instead of simply becoming brilliant at the basics.”

The issue with the “I did my best” mindset is that it can serve as a comfortable excuse for not achieving the desired outcome. By convincing yourself that you’ve done everything you can, you avoid taking responsibility for your shortcomings and limit your growth. This mindset encourages complacency and stifles innovation, as you don’t feel compelled to find new ways to overcome challenges and achieve your goals.

Let’s consider a real-world example. Suppose an originator struggles to close enough loans each month to meet their income goals. They diligently send emails and attend networking events, but their efforts aren’t translating into the desired results. Instead of critically evaluating their approach and seeking new strategies, such as making simple (and free) phone calls to prospects, they tell themselves, “I did my best,” then continue with the same ineffective routine.

The “I did my best” mindset can be particularly harmful for originators who constantly search for a secret weapon, a magic bean or the next shiny object instead of simply becoming brilliant at the basics. Mortgage originators who aren’t willing to adapt and make sales calls will quickly find themselves left behind.

Unwavering determination

Those are the pitfalls of the “I did my best” mindset. Now let’s turn our attention to the alternative — doing what it takes. This mindset is characterized by unwavering determination, resourcefulness and a burning desire to achieve goals, regardless of the obstacles encountered.

Unlike the “I did my best” mindset, which seeks comfort in the belief that you’ve given 100%, “doing what it takes” involves taking complete ownership of your results and relentlessly looking for improvement. This mindset incorporates the belief that there is always a solution, even if it requires venturing outside your comfort zone.

In practice, the “doing what it takes” mindset often involves identifying and overcoming self-imposed limitations. Recognize the mental barriers that hold you back, whether they’re fears, doubts or limiting beliefs. Challenge these thoughts and replace them with empowering beliefs that support your success, income and happiness.

Embrace continuous learning. Stay informed about industry trends and regulatory changes, and work on overcoming reluctance to use the phone. Invest in your lending business through training, coaching and networking with other successful originators. Be resourceful. When faced with challenges or obstacles, don’t give up or accept defeat. Instead, adapt your strategies and seek alternative solutions that other highly successful originators have proven to work in today’s market.

Build a strong support system. Surround yourself with mentors, colleagues and team members who share your commitment to success. They can provide valuable guidance and encouragement. Develop resilience and perseverance. Understand that setbacks and failures are going to happen in any career, especially in sales positions such as mortgage origination. Learn from these experiences, and use them as opportunities to grow and strengthen your mindset to “get it done.”

Prioritize work-life balance. To maintain the energy and focus needed to do what it takes, make time for personal needs, family and rest. Working long hours and weekends only adds to problems rather than solving them. Get a healthy amount of sleep, prioritize your relationships to prevent burnout and maintain a well-rounded life.

Measurable goals

Now let’s explore some practical strategies to help you adopt this empowering approach toward your career. Set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals.

Clearly define your desired outcomes and establish a plan to achieve them. This will help you stay focused on what matters most and ensure you’re making consistent progress toward your goals. Always remember that hope is not a strategy — taking action is.

Develop a structured daily routine that supports your goals and helps you stay on track. This should include dedicated time for outbound prospecting, following up with leads, professional development and fun time.

Regularly track your performance and compare it to your goals. Identify areas where you’re winning and where you need to improve. Adjust your strategies as needed to get more wins.

Seek feedback from happy, high-producing originators and other mentors. Have honest conversations with others in your field who can provide valuable insights and advice. Be receptive to constructive criticism, and use it as an opportunity to grow and improve, instead of defending current processes that are not working.

Build strong, long-lasting relationships with your clients by staying in touch even after their loans have closed. One recommendation is to call clients four times per year and email them once a month. Offer valuable, relevant content and advice, and be available to answer questions and address concerns.

This will help you maintain a strong referral network and ensure a steady stream of referral business. This has always been one of the main sources of income for the most successful mortgage originators.


The difference between “I did my best” and “doing what it takes” can be the decisive factor in your success as an originator. By adopting a winning mindset and implementing these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to overcoming challenges, achieving your goals and building a thriving mortgage business.

Remember, the mortgage industry is ever evolving, so your mindset must evolve with it. Keep pushing yourself to grow, adapt and innovate, and never be satisfied with merely doing your best. Instead, commit to doing whatever it takes to have your best year, regardless of what the market is doing. Your future self will thank you for it. ●


  • Carl White

    Carl White is founder and CEO of Mortgage Marketing Animals, a successful mortgage marketing training program. White is also a branch manager at one of the top mortgage branches in America and the host of the No. 1 podcast for loan officers, Mortgage Marketing Animals teaches the strategies that originators in White’s own branch use today to close more loans in less time. Learn more by visiting

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