For those of you who listen to the BiggerPockets Podcast, you’ve heard me ask it dozens of time before:
“What do you think sets apart the successful investors from those who never really gain traction?”
This is my favorite question to ask guests, which is why it’s asked each week as part of the “Famous Four!” (Admit it… you just sang that in your high-pitched voice!) I believe one of the best ways to learn how to succeed is by listening to others who have done it give their answer as to what it takes, hence the question.
So being the co-host, no one ever asks me so I figured I would just share my opinion here, now. I don’t claim to have “made it” or found incredible success yet, but I also believe success is not a destination but a journey. (Tweet This!) (I think Zig Ziglar said that.)
Or another way to phrase it:
Success isn’t a peak that, once reached, awards you an ugly trophy with your name embossed in gold.(Or Tweet That!) (I think I said that. Not quite as poetic.)
Now we could really get into a long conversation about what defines success, and in what capacity, but I want to keep this post a bit shorter than my usual (you’re welcome!)
So for the sake of this post, I’ll define success as living the life you want to live. Whether that’s success in marriage, success in bowling, success in shopping, or success in real estate investing, I think it’s all about the connection between your vision for your life and your present state. Don’t think too hard about that – I’m not a poet. I’m just referring to being happy and content. To me, that is success.
Now, back to success in real estate. The only thing I claim is to have been on the journey longer than some, thus I can share some insight on what the path behind me has looked like. I can see the trail behind me fairly clearly, so I feel I can offer some guidance on what the path was like and how I got here. And thanks to the giants who have come before me, I can see a bit of where the path goes on ahead. It’s from this position that I write this post.
Alright, enough existentialism. Let’s get to the meat.
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The One Character Trait You Need to Succeed
I believe the one trait you need to succeed, in any endeavor, is …
to be teachable.
Let me explain. I believe success comes from learning. Yes, some have achieved success through luck or providence, but we all hate that guy anyways so let’s ignore him.
I’m talking about those who have climbed, fought, sweated, and wept their way to success – and it’s all because they learned. They learned from what other’s have shared, and lessons from the mistakes that they have made. They learned from books, they learned from mentors, they learned from their own previous successes and previous failures.
However, without the ability to learn, success is nearly impossible. This is why I believe the #1 trait needed to succeed is the willingness to be teachable.
Without “teachability” – growth is halted.
We all know people in our lives who refuse to be taught. They want to do things their own way, ignoring what others have said or done. It drives me absolutely insane. I even see it over in the BiggerPockets Forums all the time. People jump in and want to start investing in real estate and ask for advice. I generally tell people the same thing: get active!
Engage in conversation, ask questions, offer advice, send colleague requests, and just become a familiar face in this community. I don’t say this for the benefit of the website, I say this because I truly believe this is the way success is found. Out of the hundreds of times I’ve seen this situation play out in the forums, I can count on one hand the number of success stories I have seen.
But when they do… oh, it’s a beautiful thing!
How to Become More Teachable
The following are three ways to become more teachable. There are probably a lot more, but again, my goal is to be succinct with this post (but at 661 words already, I’m failing!)
1.) Admit That You Are An Idiot
Okay, not an idiot in all walks of your life, but in the field you want to succeed in. In other words: lower your pride. The first step in being teachable is to recognize that the disparity between what you know and what you don’t know. Trust me – you don’t know a whole lot more than what you do know. For some reason, this seems to work in reverse as you age. The older you get, the more you realize you don’t know. I remember thinking, as a high schooler, that I knew pretty much everything there was to know in the world.
was am an idiot.
2.) Cling to the Old Guys
I’m not just talking about age, though it usually goes together. Cling to those who have success and are where you want to be. I’m not talking about the gurus, unless your goal is to be a master marketing genius. Make friends with those who are in the industry, where you want to be in 20 years.
Hint: The BiggerPockets Forum is a great way to do this, without even needing to leave your couch.
3.) Start Reading
I don’t need to belabor this point, so I’ll just leave you with two resources. The first a quote, the second a link:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
I don’t have any proof that “teachability” is what’s going to make you successful. (I’m not even sure “teachability” is a word!) However, I CAN testify that in my own life, I believe it’s been the driving force behind the successes I’ve had thus far.
I’ve learned from some incredible people who are further along the journey then me, and hopefully I can pass on some of that wisdom to people who are walking in my trail.
This is the beauty of BiggerPockets and why I obsess so much about jumping into the community. If you aren’t an active member of the forums – I highly encourage you to do so. You don’t need to be a Pro to engage, to learn, and to network.
All it takes is an attitude of teachability.
Photo: paojus alquiza