Stop right now, you may be a ‘flat-earth thinker’ and not even know it.
In times like these in mid 2015, new NDP Government in Alberta, lower oil prices across the world, a Federal Election around the corner – change seems to be a real constant. However, many investors don’t adapt their thinking or their strategies as markets and trends change which leaves them wondering “Why is life more of a struggle today than it used to be?”
It is human nature, and quite financially dangerous to be blind to your own blinders… or as some would call it “Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid.”
One of the key strategies I have adopted in building my real estate portfolio as well as my businesses, is to continually challenge my ‘beliefs.’ By doing so, I can uncover any holes in my plan, I gain new perspective, I absorb new information that makes me better and most importantly of all I never end up in a ‘blind alley’ driven there because I closed my eyes and ears to reality.
Challenge – Absorb – Adjust. Those are my watchwords that have allowed me to keep on track for so many years.
As my good friend and fellow investor puts it: “Challenge Your Belief System – Adhere to the Evidence.”
In his latest book 80 Lessons Learned On the Road
from $80,000 to $80,000,000 he details, in Lesson #32 how you can adopt this practice to mitigate risk, increase results and live a more engaged life. He has allowed me to post Lesson #32 below for you to read and share with those in your life. (BTW, I suggest picking up a copy of his book. All 80 lessons spark new though processes). Here is Lesson #32:
Special Guest Column from veteran investor and author Thomas Beyer.
Am I married to the right person? Am I actually happy in my life? Am I on the right path financially? Am I spiritually aligned? Was Jesus Christ a lunatic or was it true what is written? Was it smart to buy these four rental properties? Is the climate really warming, and if so, what percentage is man-made? Is this current career really where I want to spend the next 20 years ? Am I healthy enough? Do my kids like me? Am I an engaged parent? Why did I gain 15 pounds? Is there a real estate bubble? Is gold a good investment?
There are many such questions that we can and must ask ourselves regularly in order to grow as human beings, partners and businesspeople. But how many people really ask themselves these kinds of questions regularly? How many people examine their own beliefs in detail?
Are You Mistaking Beliefs as Facts?
The common practice around beliefs is to accept as fact whatever we are handed. Many, if not most, people will never question what they’ve received. Diet patterns, sleep patterns, behavior patterns, parenting patterns, relationship patterns, religious patterns, financial patterns, and every other kind of pattern is potentially rife with false beliefs.
When we have false beliefs, we cannot move forward. You’ve heard the expression “the truth will set you free.” It’s the truest truth in the whole history of truths. Without truth and the right knowledge that comes from truth, we cannot effectively act in the world.
Conversely, without action, we cannot know the truth. We must act, evaluate, change where necessary and then act again. We must apply the process of kaizen to our inner belief system, throwing out the bad and moving ever closer to the good.
Can we ever arrive fully at our destination of complete perfection? Probably not in our lifetime, but we can strive to become continually better. The greatest people of all time are continually trying to improve their lives, both the outer and the inner.
However, I would contend that the inner is more important, and there is simply no way to improve the inner game without paying special attention to our beliefs. What we believe will be our basis for the next action, therefore the better our beliefs are, and the closer they are to truth, the better our next action will be.
Just because we believe something does not mean that it’s true. There was a time when the commonly received wisdom said that the earth was flat. This belief is simple logic. You look out across the earth and you see that generally speaking, the earth is flat. Sure, there are some big bumps and some small bumps, but it always flattens out on the other side of the bumps. Hence, based on this observation, the earth must be flat.
What Do You Mean The Earth Isn’t Flat?!?
However, believing that the earth was flat did not make it true, and eventually explorers sailed around the earth, proving that the earth was round. At the time of this great discovery, only about 600 years ago, there were many dissenters, people who did not believe the great new findings, many of them in authority positions such as ministers or popes.
No matter, the evidence continued to grow, and finally one day, man flew into space and took a photograph of a perfectly round and beautiful blue planet. Today, you’d be considered a nutcase to believe that the earth is flat. There is simply too much evidence to the contrary.
What “Flat Earths” Exist in Your Life?
What are the “flat earths” in your life? What do you believe that might actually be false?
I think entrepreneurs and investors have a special advantage in this because adjusting our actions based on correct beliefs is precisely the skill that will allow us to thrive or cause us to perish.
Imagine if I thought a certain neighborhood in a certain city was poised to be the next best thing in real estate. Imagine that I raised millions of dollars to purchase buildings in that town or city, and then imagine that the city’s economy simultaneously tanked. Imagine that 20 percent of the jobs left town and 20 percent of the people left with the jobs. Now I’ve purchased a whole bunch of property, and I’m stuck with an asset that has suddenly halved in value. My vacancy rates skyrocket, and the rental income is not enough to pay for the expenses of running the building.
My false beliefs would be what caused this unmitigated investment disaster. The problem with investing is that you never know the exact future of any town or city, so having perfect beliefs isn’t possible. However, we can make prudent assumptions based on the history of a region and the history of industry in any region, we can look at migration patterns, we can look at taxation levels, we can look at transportation improvements, we can look at the growth or decline of certain industries, etc. Having evidence-based beliefs will give us the best chance possible to get it right.
Prestigious Properties® has mostly gotten it right, but some of our most troubled buildings, and the few disasters that we did have, have all been the result of false beliefs, coupled with sloppy research.
We falsely believed that the baby boomer demographic would push our Powell River investment value up. We falsely believed that $13,000 per door was a good deal in Detroit. We falsely believed that we were getting into a good mortgage in Dallas.
We didn’t have the evidence to prove that we were right, at the time of decision making, primarily because we did not do enough primary and secondary research.
Don’t worry, I don’t beat myself up about it. I know that sometimes you have to act, and only after you act can you get the whole picture. After you take action, then you can adjust your beliefs to the evidence.
Today at Prestigious Properties® we run a tighter ship. We are more fundamentally sound in our investments. We seek markets with stronger indicators, and we take more prudent steps toward finding out what we don’t know and fixing it.
We’ve improved our beliefs, we do more due diligence and we will continue to improve based on the evidence that has arisen.
If you’re walking around with beliefs not proven by evidence, then you’re a disaster waiting to happen. If you take action and don’t adjust based on what the evidence tells you, then you’re in for an arduous life. However, if you can learn to graciously and quickly integrate the evidence into your beliefs and adjust accordingly, then you’re in for a long, prosperous and happy life.
“So, What Do You Believe?”
One of the key questions I ask prospective employees is, “What do you believe?” and the answer is always astounding. I should write another book about this… but I digress.
Challenge your beliefs and find out what your “flat earths” are. There’s a great chance you’ve been carrying them since birth. Identify them and eliminate them for your best life.
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This is only one of the 80 Insights Thomas has included in his latest book 80 Lessons Learned On the Road
from $80,000 to $80,000,000
A great read for anyone investing in real estate or is thinking about it. He’s been on this real estate journey a long time and can point out the danger spots as well as the safety zones. The link above will lead you right to the Amazon site for his book.