5 Traits to Ditch Right Now to Become a Successful Investor

by | BiggerPockets.com

Everyone has their own unique experiences in real estate investing and building a portfolio of properties. Some of us develop a thriving local (or not so local) real estate empire while other investors fail to complete their first real estate investment. Many times we sabotage our own businesses. Ultimately, you are in charge of your successes and your failures.

As I write this, I understand that I do not speak for the entire human race or even other investors. However, I have most definitely changed as a human being (and real estate investor) over the past 15 years. Below are five traits that I have attempted to cut from my life. I use the word “attempted” because this is an ongoing process, and sometimes I still make mistakes.

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5 Human Traits I Needed To Dump To Become A Consistently Successful Investor

1. Defensiveness

It took until my mid-20s to notice defensiveness within myself, and quickly I became disgusted with my own behavior. At the time, I viewed other people’s forgetfulness or mild selfishness as personal attacks. This significantly impeded my judgment and ability to form lasting relationships with customers I wanted to work with. This defensiveness was deeper than my subconscious; it was a natural reaction to confusion, small slights, or rejection.

Related: 7 Habits You Didn’t Know Were Derailing Your Finances Every Month

Action taken to correct: When I was ultimately fed up with being too defensive and judgmental, I began giving others the benefit of the doubt. In the past, when I felt offended or rejected, I may have instantly felt attacked. This feeling usually led to me unnecessarily cutting people out of my life, or being rude in return, simply over a misunderstanding. To correct this, every time I felt negativity creep up due to a perceived slight, I would quickly remind myself again and again: “This person has no ill will toward me and it’s likely I’m simply not seeing things from his/her point of view.”

Pro tip: Keep in mind that if a buyer, seller, investor, or handyman is being purposefully hurtful, than they should be dealt with in a different manner.

2. Being Too Cynical

Similar to defensiveness, being too cynical can destroy your real estate investing business before it ever gets started—or keep you from growing as quickly as possible. Being “too cynical” does not refer to proper and prudent due diligence before purchasing properties or working with other investors, buyers, and sellers. When I talk about being too cynical, I am referring to being negative and self-deprecating to yourself, your business, and your loved ones. This cynicism often stems from fear, lack of clarity, and/or confusion. Cynicism is a poison that should be cut out of your life (and mindset) immediately.

Action taken to correct: Luckily for me, I grew up in a family where cynicism and sarcasm were laid on pretty thick. I say this because it was easy to hear soul-weighing negativity in my thoughts and inner-talk every day. This habit unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, took years to finally break. Reading self-help books helped. However, it took me investing in dozens of mobile homes and helping countless buyers and sellers to truly understand my self-worth and my ability to help others. Today I am my own best cheerleader. You should be your own top cheerleader, too.

 3. Making Excuses

Excuses come in many forms. We may make excuses for doing certain things, and also for not doing those same certain things. I didn’t notice it earlier in life, but whenever I made excuses, I was giving up my power. I was unknowingly saying to myself, “I don’t have the control, power, or knowledge to deal with the situation at hand.” Without knowing it, I was mentally self-sabotaging my confidence and business growth.

Action taken to correct: I needed to truly understand that ultimately, I am responsible for my own actions and my journey—success and failures. The ability to learn a brand new skill and stretch ourselves outside our comfort zones is nobody’s responsibility but our own. After truly internalizing this mental attitude, I found a freedom in knowing that I truly have few limitations to starting new things and getting all my questions answered. Where there is an unstoppable will, there is a way to get things done.

Related: 5 Habits That Help Average Americans Make Millions

Pro tip: It may be common to blame yourself once you internalize that your past successes and failures are yours to bear. However, remember that your past is behind you. You have learned from your mistakes and are now moving forward to be an even more experienced real estate investor.

4. Being a Coward

You were not born knowing everything you will ever need to know in regards to working with real estate, managing properties, and dealing with human beings on a regular basis. Sometimes, when confronted with a fearful situation, we tend to take the easy way out. This may result in a cursory effort. When we deal with real estate or human beings, we should be confident, clear, reliable, mature, and professional adults in our businesses.

Action taken to correct: When I say “being a coward,” I am referring to passiveness when it comes to delivering tough, unpleasant, or bad news. I once hated giving anyone bad news, being rejected, or having to tell someone No. However, this weakness and timidness was not conducive to being the successful real estate investor I needed to be.

I knew that I wanted to continue my investing career, and in order to do so, I needed to learn new people skills and overcome my fears. This took a number of self-help books and the real-world practice of standing up for my wants and business needs. By learning how to say No, and tactfully confronting others, I started becoming the investor and person I envisioned in my own mind.

5. Ceasing to Learn New Things

Because you are reading this article, I assume you are likely not a lazy or unintelligent individual. You know that real estate investing education is available in the form of books, blogs, Biggerpockets forums, podcasts, CDs, courses, local clubs, mentors, and so on. However, we are not born with this knowledge. Additionally, we have to push ourselves to take action to digest this education and implement it into our daily routines.

Action taken to correct: Over the past decade, I’ve devoted some time most days to educating myself. Whether this is reading a blog post, book chapter, watching video education, or doing something else, I never want to go to sleep without learning something new. Having the courage to admit your shortcomings, plus making the time to better yourself may make or break your real estate investing success.

Pro Tip: It is difficult to teach ambition. Learn something new and/or ask a pressing real estate question daily.

What personal traits have you dumped to become a better investor? What new traits have you implemented to better yourself?

Share them in the comments below!

About Author

John Fedro

John Fedro has been investing in manufactured housing since 2002. John now spends his time continuing to build his cash-flow business in multiple states while helping others enjoy the same freedom he has achieved. Find John here.


  1. Great article. These are very difficult traits for people to learn regardless of age or generation. “You can’t change what’s going on around you until you start changing what’s going on within you.” Failure is inevitable without self-reflection and self-evaluation.

  2. Mike McKinzie

    One of the better blogs on Bigger Pockets lately. If I were to add one more item and point a finger at the mirror, it would be WORRY. Worry makes one cynical, makes one defensive and makes one create excuses. Unfortunately, one of my parents was a master worrier. They had a five figure monthly rental income and whenever one went vacant, she would verbally say “We will be in the soup line soon!” And I was lucky enough to inherit that tendency. Therefore, I battle it!

  3. george huber

    I’m new to the real estate investor world, so I’m basically just learning at this point. However, for the first time in I’ll say “ever”, I realistically think that I might be able to obtain real wealth and hopefully live a more fulfilling life where I can help others.

    I also don’t feel the need to buy any more lotto tickets!

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