Make Your Own Luck: How to Succeed Using Results-Based Thinking

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Since back in 1976 I’ve been mentored by pros, all of whom provided lessons in real estate investing and general wisdom for which I’ll never be able to fully repay.

There were those who were local. They mentored me at their convenience, beckoning me at random times at equally random places, though over half the time it was at their favorite place, the 19th hole. All of ’em, whenever I didn’t get something by the second time or did something wrong after being told not to, sounded like the old guy down the street yellin’ at kids to “Get off my lawn!” 🙂

Seriously, every now and again they’d scare me a little. There was a fierceness in their eyes conveying just how much they really cared. The ONLY thing they all cared about was things being done right, which was necessary to achieve superior results. Everything else was secondary.

But they also taught me something that’s proven to be fundamentally priceless.

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Assuming Integrity and Character, Investment Results Are 99¢ of Every Dollar

Many, including me as a young man, railed against this unrelenting and “unfair” truth of life. One day all but one of my mentors, including Dad, were around the table. Almost in unison they exploded at my consistent refusal to acknowledge life’s ultimate measuring stick — the production of empirically measurable results. In fact, they taught me it’s nothing short of human nature to insist on knowing the results of pretty much everything able to be measured in life.

One of them asked me about my Little League days. Wondered if anyone had seen me in my uniform after a game. What was the first question they asked? It was, “Did you guys win today?” They wanted to know the results. I can remember so many times when dads in the neighborhood asked that very question as I walked past their yards after a game.

Results — can’t live with ’em sometimes, but can’t live without ’em for very long.

Their point was to teach me that improving my results wouldn’t happen — COULD NOT happen — in a theoretical world. It happens from understanding current results and searching for how they can be improved, IF improvement is desired. Human nature often allows us to blind ourselves to this truth, though seeing others benefit from superior results tends to put the kibosh on that nonsense, at least if we’re honest with ourselves.

Success Is Not a Journey — It’s a RESULT

Those who believe it’s a journey don’t like to answer questions about bottom-line results much, do they? I know I didn’t, that’s for sure.

Pick a goal, any goal. Let’s use losing weight. You wanted to lose 10 pounds in the couple months before your high school reunion. You showed up having lost three pounds. Go ahead and tell me about your wonderfully successful journey.

Between the reliance on the theoretical and worshipping at the altar of “tryin’ really, really hard,” the lack of results produced means you’ll never get that time back. The only potential value was in learning why the desired results never materialized.

Becoming Results-Oriented Changes Lives

Once those mean ol’ men beat the reality of results into me, life changed.

They could tell when it dawned on me. They began to smile, as if I’d just been voted into some private club. They also cautioned me about judging myself too harshly when I failed to obtain a goal. I was to learn from the failure, the only valuable part of failing, and move on. No whining or pouting allowed.

Nobody, especially that crew, gave a — fill in the blank — about how hard I “tried” to produce a given result. In fact, here’s an example of how brutal they could be as my “caring” mentors.

One year in December I was so proud of myself. It was in the worst part of the recession of the early ’80s, and I was proud of my year’s production and how I’d benefitted my clients. They knew what my goals had been and that I’d barely gotten past halfway in any of them. Their derision was vicious, at least from my side of the table.

Related: Predictions are Futile: Why You Should Invest in Real Estate Based on the Numbers ALONE!

In mockingly pitiful voices they’d say, “Oh, little Jeffy tried so very hard and yet fell on his face so dramatically. It’s so blankety-blank unfair. I feel so sorry for you, poor boy.”

That version candy coats it beyond description, believe me. I was barely over 30, and you’d think I’d just wet my pants the way they were cracking themselves up. I was not a happy camper. As I shot my chair back in anger, one of them commanded me to sit back down and begin facing reality as a man and not as a little kid. (Oh, ok, that makes me feel way better.)

Then I looked over at Dad, and he merely took the cigar out of his mouth, blowing smoke towards the ceiling. Gulp.

We All Either Know What Needs To Be Done, or Know Somebody Who Can Show Us

There are those who do and those who almost always fail “valiantly” while trying ever so hard.

Most of the time we’re only trying hard to avoid what we know will get the job done. Why? Because we simply don’t want to do what produces the desired results.

Want to have a killer body for the girls? Here’s how. Work out like a dog for a year, five days a week. Most guys discover they really didn’t want to look all that good. But you know, they tried their “very, very best.” We’d rather fail via “epic” fruitless effort, than succeed by doing what will, you know, produce actual real life results.

Who knows why? I don’t. What I did learn from those bullies that dark day was that they truly cared about me and genuinely wanted me to succeed. If getting me to understand had to be painful, so be it. I’m so grateful for their patience and brutal honesty, I can’t begin to express it.

They taught me that virtually any desired result can be obtained if only we do two things.

1. Know exactly what actions need to be consistently taken.

2. Consistently take those actions.

Sound mind numbingly simple? It is.

Wanna dig a ditch 4 feet wide by 6 feet long and 6 feet deep? Think that’s doable? Think you know exactly what actions need to be taken to produce that result? If you don’t, are you willing to find out, regardless of how much effort it takes? Are you willing to take those actions ’til the dang ditch has been dug? Or are you going to get out a small, handheld gardening “shovel,” fail miserably, show everyone your new blisters, then insist on how hard you tried? How is constantly failing despite trying our best in any way something to enjoy? Revel in that journey, did ya?

Investing for Retirement Income is No Different Than Diggin’ that Ditch

Theories, even when put into practice, either produce the desired results or they don’t. Even when they’re merely different approaches, not theoretical, what results did they produce compared to other approaches to “diggin’ the same ditch?”

Did your way allow you to dig 10 ditches in the same time it took the other guy to dig a couple? Or did they out produce you 5-1? Assuming integrity, nobody cares a whit about how anyone made anything a reality ’til they find out IF they produced the desired result(s) in the first place.

I used to defend my professional and client-related results to those heartless group of mentors. Their response was to ask if somebody was producing far better results than me in the same time. Were they digging more ditches than I? Were they better ditches?

Related: Most Investors Wanna Talk About Everything Except . . . RESULTS!

Finding out what works best, then taking the actions required to produce those superior results isn’t rocket science. They’d then name local real estate investment brokers I should contact, then beg them to show me. I did, over and over. I literally stopped caring about why I was wrong and began to care only about applying the new actions it took to generate the superior results. Take ego completely out of the way, and it’s almost shocking what can be accomplished.

Conclusion

Precious few things in life are immune from the law of results. We don’t dig ditches the same way Grandpa did. In fact, we dig ’em more precisely and dozens more per day. Being a successful investor isn’t brain surgery, though many would like us to believe so. It’s about taking the body of knowledge out there and applying it to the max. In over 40 years I’ve seen very few new things. I have seen new ways to combine multiple approaches to the same end.

We can invest using one particular school of thought and create a pretty retirement “ditch.” Or we can discover all the different schools of thought, combine them, and retire with a field of ditches.

In the end, it’s about nothing more complicated than results.

How do you track results in your real estate investment business? What’s the most valuable thing a mentor has taught you?

Join in the discussion below!

About Author

Jeff Brown

Licensed since 1969, broker/owner since 1977. Extensively trained and experienced in tax deferred exchanges, and long term retirement planning.

9 Comments

  1. Chad Carson

    Jeff,
    Insightful post as always. Thanks!

    I noticed your explicit emphasis here is on results. But I also get the sense that the core principle is to take “consistent and correct action”. To me, the 2nd is a more important lesson than the 1st.

    Although they are connected, I think results and consistent action are different things. Results are just a byproduct. The consistent action is all we can really control, therefore it should be our focus. Sure we should measure results, because we need a score board and a compass to keep us going in the right direction. But my experience has been that if I master the consistent and correct action, I will have no problem with the results. The horse comes before the cart.

    Thanks again for the old-school wisdom! I love it.

  2. stephanie willoughby on

    Thanks, Jeff, for reminding us that no one exempt from the “I tried” syndrome of failure. The simplicity of the two components you outlined gives me renewed hope for taming my loosy goosy approach to landlording. Great article.

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