James Taylor has a great song titled, the Secret O’ Life. The main lyric is: The secret of life is enjoying the passing of time. In my opinion, not a truer phrase has been spoken. Why does it seem to take us reaching our 40′s to figure that out? Another media reference is from the movie Along Came Polly, with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston. Funny movie. At the end of the movie Rubin’s (Ben Stiller) father, who rarely talks, but finally speaks some rather profound words. He says, and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s not about what you did in the past, or what you THINK you may do in the future, it’s about the ride for goodness sake. It’s not worth going through all this, if you’re not going to enjoy the ride!”
Our Fathers Day Fishing Trip
In our business and our personal lives, it is so important to enjoy the ride. It is a habit that if learned, can yield great results in both our personal and business lives. In the end, aren’t they really the same anyways?
Let me tell you about this past weekend. Friday, my 13 year old son and I took off for Brooklyn, NY to go deep sea fishing out of Sheepshead Bay. It was his 13th birthday present. It just so happened that it was also Fathers Day weekend. The plan was to leave on Friday at 1:30PM, make the 7:00PM boat. I thought that 5-1/2 hours should be MORE than enough time for a 3 hour trip. We planned to stay in a hotel after fishing and come back the next day. I decided early on that no matter how the weekend played out, I was going to enjoy the ride. Well, what a ride it was. We took off from the Albany area at 1:30 PM, GPS said it would take 3 hours. Our boat left at 7PM. Plenty of time, right?
Have you ever experienced rush hour traffic in Manhattan? Wow, what a mood killer! I rely so much on GPS, that I did not take into consideration we were traveling right into the heart of the beast at rush hour. Well, we were in bumper to bumper traffic for several hours with no place to go. I told my son that we were going fishing no matter what it took. I said I have no idea what day or boat it will be on, but I WILL make it happen. Of course, we missed our boat that evening, so we decided to make the best of it. I called the captain and explained we were rookies and severely misjudged NYC traffic on a Friday night. He laughed at me, as any good New Yorker would :-), and said he would move us to the boat the following night.
We decided to have a great trip and add on to our adventure. Since it was apparent that the big city had gobbled us up and we were going to be stuck in Manhattan anyways, we decided to punt. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, ate diner in a great little restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. We rode several blocks in one of those carts pulled around by a guy peddling. We finally left Manhattan and made it to our hotel in Brooklyn. In the morning, we got up, had breakfast at a Russian restaurant, (who knew they served Ice Cream with their pancakes), then walked to the NY Aquarium. From there we spent several hours at world famous Coney Island, enjoying the sights, sounds, ocean, beach, and local food. Then back to have some true NYC pizza, and finally to the boat. I drove home after the trip, and was able to spend the first several hours of Fathers day with my firstborn son. It was a great trip and one that we will never forget. Even if he is starting to be too cool to walk next to me!
Was The Day All Roses?
Not a chance. Here is the other side of the trip. Imagine the potential stress level in the car as we sat in traffic, realizing that no matter what we did, we were NOT going to make our boat. I knew my son was disappointed and was afraid we would not go fishing. Have you ever heard the language, car horns, and hand gestures as NY’ers fight in grid lock traffic? Wow, it is enough to cause heart disease! I think I even learned some new words! My back is severely out, and I think I have a slipped or bulging disk, so almost every move is agony. It was badly irritated when the buggy guy ran over a pothole. We were hungry and tired. The lines and crowds at the Empire State Building, even at 10PM are insane. At a price of $76 for the two of us to go up, that can be stressful in and of itself! Parking two different times only cost me about $70 for the night, what a deal! We are in the wrong business!!! The next day, the hotel was pushing us out at 11:00 even though we had no place to go. We tried to get a cab, but ended up walking the 3 miles to Coney Island. Lines were long at restaurants, as it was very hot at the beach. The Aquarium was only half opened because Hurricane Sandy really destroyed much of it last year. I heard a bunch of people complaining about that. The driver of the cab could not change a $100 bill, so I had to go around looking for change as he waited.
On the boat, by accident my hand hit the exact spot to delete my email voucher proving I had paid for the trip! The fish were scarce, and we only caught one small very odd looking fish. The boat stayed out about an hour later than it was scheduled to, trying to find fish to catch. We did not get back to port until after 1:00 AM. We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us to get home for Fathers Day. That puts me home at 4:30 AM. We had to go back through NYC, and I was shocked as I was in bumper to bumper traffic at 1:50AM!! Are you freaking kidding me?? The city was alive like it was 8:00 on a Friday night. I was amazed. Now I understand why it is coined, The City That Never Sleeps. I drank a Red Bull to stay awake, had some chocolate, and set the cruise control at 78. At 4:15 AM, I am within 5 miles of my home and get pulled over for speeding. Despite my best effort of smooth talking and name dropping, I still get a ticket. It was greatly reduced, but a ticket none the less.
Why did I tell you all of this? Because what we choose to focus on will determine our happiness in life. I had to literally sit back and make an effort to THINK about all of the negative things that happened. I was not programmed to see them while they were happening. I was determined this trip to focus on enjoying the ride, whatever it was going to be. If I did start to think negatively, I quickly told myself: “Enjoy the ride Glenn. You can’t control it, and if you try to you’ll be stressed and miserable, so sit back and enjoy it brother.” The first paragraph is exactly how I experienced the trip. It was really amazing, bad back and all. I know I have limited time with my kids being young and I think this was one of those trips we will talk about forever.
Imagine If we Graphed Our Success and Struggles
If we were to make a timeline and charted every up and down on the trip as they happened, it would be one of the most violent roller coasters you would ever see. If we allow them to, our emotions will go up with each success and down with each challenge, thus making it very difficult to truly, Enjoy The Ride. Remember what we choose to focus on will determine how we see the world and our situation.
How Does This Apply To Our Businesses?
I have done hundreds of negotiations both buying, selling and renting. Every single deal seems to have something that displeases somebody. Think of all of the people involved in any transaction. Problems can be a simple as a lack of communication from agents, appraisers, lawyers, inspectors, mortgage brokers, banks, code enforcement, contractors, and more. I really do not want to list all of the negative things that can happen in almost every deal. Each one of us can fill in the blanks for all of the trouble we have had with our deals. If we do that, we would probably crash the server! The issues start from day one and really don’t end until we are out of the deal, and even then the problems can continue. In the end though, don’t most of our deals end with a positive outcome? Did all of our worrying change the outcome one bit? Actually, it probably made it worse! We should all remember that this is all part of the ride of being a Professional Real Estate Investor.
It would be best if we always focused on the prize. Focus on the goal you wish to achieve. It doesn’t matter if you wholesale, flip, buy and hold, buy and sell notes, etc. Decide what your end goal is and stay focused on it. You will have issues, and the more deals you do, the more issues you will have. How you decide to handle those issues will determine your success in this business and in your life. If you choose to enjoy the ride and not sweat the small stuff, you can be a much happier investor!
As far as we know, we’ve only got one trip around this crazy life, so let’s make sure we are all enjoying the ride. As I read back through this article, I realize it may seem as though I have this mindset mastered. Let me say for the record, I do not, but I am working on it! It is a process that I work on day in and day out. Hopefully I am a little better at it today than I was yesterday. I hope this article helped some of you gain some perspective today and that you all have a great week ahead. Focus on all of the great things happening to you every day and more will come. If you have not yet started investing, stop thinking about it, jump in and Enjoy the Ride.