My good friend Brandon Turner wrote a post on this blog not too long ago entitled The One Character Trait You Need to Succeed (and How to Start Developing it Today). This is a wonderful read indeed, as is everything that comes off of Brandon’s screen. However, in my view Brandon missed the mark on this one by suggesting that being teachable is the most important requisite for success. If it were, there’d be a whole lot more successful people. After all – a lot of people are intelligent and learned, but very few are successful…
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My Friend – the Psychiatrist
I have a friend who happens to be a psychiatrist. His profession fascinates me from one stand-point – it seems that once people step foot into a therapist’s office, they never leave. People just keep coming back for more, more, and more – good for the therapist’s bottom line, but perhaps not so good for the patient… The following is a loose outline of a conversation I’ve had with my friend on several occasions:
Me: People come to you because they are confused and unable to find answers. Your job is to open the door for them to walk into the light, which you do. But, most never seem to walk through the opening. Why?
Him: You seem to know a lot about this. How come?
Me: There was a time when Patrisha and I struggled communicating and we saw a counselor for a while. I learned a lot…
Him: And what did you learn?
Me: I learned that it’s impossible to have all of the answers, and that you have to start walking in the face of the unknown. I learned that the game is not about having all of the answers, but about knowing enough with which to take action…
Him: And did you?
Me: I am very happily married!
Him: There’s your answer. Most people don’t ever walk through the opening because they don’t have a complete 360 degree view of what lies ahead. People assume that it’s my job to push them through. No – my job is to help them find an opening; it is their job to muster up the guts to walk though. Most never do – they just keep studying and learning in hopes that additional knowledge will somehow cause action…it never does.
Life is not about being able and willing to learn more – it is about taking action in spite of not knowing everything!
Here is the deal
It’s convenient to think that ability to learn is the driver of success. Why is it convenient? Because it’s comfortable and does not scare you. You are an intelligent person after all, and as such learning new things does not scare you; it’s right up your alley. And if that’s all it takes to achieve success – buddy, you are right there…
However, you may soon discover that having information inside your brain is akin to having gas in your car – it can enable you to run but only if you first throw the thing in gear and hit the gas pedal. And guess what – throwing your knowledge into gear and hitting the gas pedal is a little more difficult than learning; it requires purposeful action. Purposeful Action is indeed the driver of success, not the amount of gas in the tank!
My understanding is that traffic on biggerpockets is about 500,000/month +. This means that people come to learn stuff on BP 6 million times every year. Why is it, do you think, that there are only a bit over 100,000 members on the site? Why is it that only 100,000 out of millions upon millions who benefit from infinite information dished out here for FREE chose to come out of the shadows and be accountable by becoming members?
Take this one step further – how many of the people who visit the site ever do anything with the information; how many do 1 solitary deal? Is it .1%? Is it even less than that?
Learning and having the right information is certainly a necessary component of success. But, as I concluded above, knowledge doesn’t drive success – action does. So – if we were to break this down a bit further, we’d realize that there are 2 main reasons why people don’t take action in real estate:
First Reason for Inaction
People want to know all of the answers upfront, and in this way these people, who are the majority of BP’s traffic, are not dissimilar from folks on the couch in my friend’s counseling practice. His job, and BP’s is to teach people how to think, not to teach them every piece of useful information known to man…think about this! At some point you have to throw caution to the wind – will you, or are you just going to continue coming here to make yourself feel better that you are learning…?
Second Reason for Inaction
This is a big one – a really big one indeed, and it is practical. This transcends real estate and applies to all entrepreneurial activities and goes something like this:
The truth of being an entrepreneur is that you won’t have a steady pay check…
How does that make you feel? Most of you have not been without a W2 paycheck – ever. Saying no to the paycheck is truly one of the most difficult tasks ahead of you, and yet in order to commit yourself to success as an entrepreneur you will have to quit being in someone else’s employee eventually. Do you have it in you? Can you burn the ships as Cortez did in order to eliminate the means of escape – that’s what we are talking about here.
Brandon is correct to point out that unless one is able and willing to absorb information, success is impossible – you have to have gas in the tank if the thing is going to move an inch. However, just putting the gas in the tank won’t move the car, and while teach-ability and knowledge are desirable, action is necessary. I quote Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in this world can take place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Action is the chief requisite for success. Lack of continued persistent action is the chief reason for failure, even for those who know everything…
What are your thoughts? Would you agree with Brandon that teach-ability is the most important trait for success, or would you side with me?
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