The notion that our work can have an influence that spans generations should be cause for pause.

By Ari Lahdekorpi

Epigenetics is the study of the material that surrounds and encases our genes. (“Epi” is from the ancient Greek word that means ‘above’ or ‘over’, hence the term epigenetics). In recent years there have been some interesting findings regarding this material. It had been thought by scientists and researchers that our DNA was the sole orchestrator of what we are physically. Well, it turns out that our epigenetic structure has a lot to do with controlling the tendencies within our bodies. These tendencies can have a physical impact over just a generation.

A recent study has demonstrated that a trauma in the life of our grandparents can create a ‘genetic memory’ in our systems that can shorten our life span or create a physical reaction in our bodies given certain environmental conditions. This in turn can affect the DNA as it adjusts to the epigenetic reaction. Researchers postulate that this explains how giraffes developed long necks in a relatively short evolutionary timeframe. The physical adaptation was due to environmental trauma, and positive physical reinforcement via the genetic memory.

Memory and communication are fascinating subjects to ponder. They are two sides to the same coin in some respects. Communication is our attempt to reach outside of our own reality to impact on the external world. Memory is the reverse, implanting the experience of what exists outside into our internal world. To consider that our physical bodies have a memory that can affect and impact beyond our own lives is truly remarkable. What happens to you will reverberate in your children, and their children regardless of the faded photographs or old stories. Our experiences speak through our DNA long after our tongues are silent.

So what does this have to do with our roles as sales representatives and agents? Consider that the ability to communicate effectively is the hallmark of a truly great agent. The effect of successful communication is the internalization of information into our clients. It becomes a call to action. In fact, we help them satisfy one of their basic needs for survival, protection from the elements.

The search for warmth and shelter is a primal need, one of the base motivations in the hierarchy of needs, as outlined in the research of Abraham Maslow. This basic motivation revolves around a physical requirement for survival. As such, it can be a powerful implanter of genetic memory, either in a positive or negative way. So in a real sense, the function of a real estate agent hits to an epigenetic level via some of our most basic and fundamental needs and motivations.

ari 2009The notion that our work can have an influence that spans generations should be cause for pause. Not to suggest that anyone in the office has ever taken the importance of our job as Realtors lightly, but our duty of care might be more impacting than any of us truly understands or realizes.

Ari Lahdekorpi is managing broker at Re/Max Select Properties in Vancouver.

Posted: 2010-03-04 07:23:31

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