One of the things I love about BiggerPockets is all of the learning that happens here.
Most of us recognize how special this place is. A community that offers an abundance of legitimate guidance, information and education without asking for anything in return is a rare thing indeed. In a world saturated with half-truths and get-rich-quick schemes, I think we can all admit that this kind of resource has been a much-needed breath of fresh air for real estate investors around the world.
That being said – I think most people have a HUGE misconception about what it means to “learn.” Everybody loves to talk about the importance of “getting educated” and acquiring the fundamental knowledge required to succeed (whether it comes from books, forums, videos, classes, mentors, etc). I agree – a lot of this stuff is undeniably important in order to figure out the basics, but what does it really mean to “learn“?
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The Value of Hypothetical Knowledge
When I was in high school, one of my classmates scored a 36 on his ACT exam (a perfect score). This kind of test result was unheard of. In fact it was so rare, he was offered a $250,000 full ride scholarship to a nationally renowned university. Essentially, he had a winning lottery ticket that would pay for his entire college education, anywhere he wanted to go. It was an opportunity that most people could only dream of.
So what did he do?
He dropped out of high school and spent the next 10 years living out of his car.
Now, I’m not making any judgements about his decision to give up on academia (this is completely subjective and not for me to decide), but what I am saying is this:
It’s one thing to have knowledge, and it’s something entirely different to put that knowledge to use.
Think about it… getting a perfect score on a college admissions exam means NOTHING if you aren’t going to college. It doesn’t even deserve a pat on the back! If someone isn’t going to jump into their next adventure with both feet, what’s the point in “testing the waters” in the first place? Every minute spent in this process is a pointless exercise.
What Is Learning Without Doing?
Many aspiring real estate investors are no different than my my high school classmate. Every week I talk to a new person who is on fire about this business. They’ve built up a massive arsenal of investing knowledge, but they haven’t yet invested a single dollar into their first deal. It seems like all of them want to gain financial freedom and rake in gobs of money from real estate, but when it comes down to it – very few people are actually willing to…
- Put in the time.
- Do the research.
- Build the network.
- Take the risks.
- Put up the cash.
- Have the patience.
- Keep going after they hear the word “No.”
It’s just too easy too for people to spend their time reading, talking, thinking and browsing the internet for more information than it is to actually DO something about it. When we spend all of our time “getting educated”, it is very easy to trick ourselves into thinking we’re making progress (when we’re really just treading water).
I still remember how it felt when I was getting started in this business. I wanted to read every book, watch every video and buy every course I could get my hands on. The only problem was – I spent all my time thinking about what investing would be like and none of my time actually doing it. I never felt quite ready to take that first step because there was always a lingering doubt in my mind, reminding me of everything I still didn’t know.
The Reason For Inaction (And How To Fight It)
Looking back on those years, my honest assessment is that my inaction boiled down to fear and laziness.
Taking action is hard. It’s where the rubber meets the road and we start moving into new, unknown territory. Make no mistake about it – this can be a scary thing!
Action requires a change in our behavior and a change in behavior usually involves some risk. While there is always the (relatively small) outside chance that we’ll get hurt as a result of stepping into the unknown, I’ve found that most of the time, this risk is very much worth taking and will ultimately lead to some significant rewards. Unfortunately, many people allow this fear of the unknown to hold them back and stay stuck in “education” phase.
The fact is, anything worth doing is probably going to involve some difficulty and the sooner you realize and accept this (and start applying yourself), the sooner you’ll start seeing the fruits of your labor. Not to mention, you will never find a better education than that which comes from experience.
Jump into the game and stop being afraid of getting your butt kicked! The alternative is to sit around and continue thinking about what could be (rather than living it first hand) while the rest of the world passes you by.
If you choose to continue sitting on the sidelines, just do me a favor and don’t call it “learning.” You haven’t learned anything until you’ve changed your behavior.