Walk the hard road to easy street

Private Property South Africa
Real Estate Investment Magazine

Once upon a time I sat in a room with some 4 000 people at a “success” seminar. The energy and excitement were palpable as we waited for yet another guru to dispense enlightenment that would surely make us all millionaires.

Then I had an epiphany.

I used to think that if I just attended enough seminars, swam with the sharks, became the apprentice, fire-walked over hot coals and repeated affirmations in the mirror day after day, I would eventually manifest “The Secret”. But that was before I uncovered the real problem.

The real problem

No guru will ever tell you the truth. Because no-one wants to hear the truth. No one wants to hear about the hours of preparation, study, sacrifice and hard work it takes to accomplish the extraordinary. No one wants to hear that you have to push yourself beyond what most people consider to be sane.

I have a shocking confession to make: I am not a real estate investor. I’m not even South African. I’m a Canadian who managed to establish and become CEO of a $100-million financial brokerage firm. So, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about investing – particularly investing psychology. I can tell you from experience that, whether it’s stocks or real estate, the game is the same. I used to be a mailman. Then I became a rainmaker.

The truth

Let me tell you what no guru will admit: statistically speaking, you’ll never make it as an investor unless you overcome a few common weaknesses – like these:

  • You over-analyse every single detail.

  • You hesitate when you should act.

  • You make lousy decisions because you don’t think critically.

  • When you decide, it’s usually based on fear.

  • You want things to be effortless and easy.

  • You’ve got a great story for why you haven’t succeeded yet.

I can tell you why most people don’t succeed when investing. And there is no nice way to say this: they’re weak. There is no such thing as a weak, successful person. The people you admire, those who have achieved massive success, have one thing in common: they are tough as nails, with incredible drive, determination and will.

Don’t get me wrong. You can be a nice person, and a person of great humility: that does not imply you are weak. Weak is when you don’t have the strength, the hardiness, the steely drive, determination and will to go way beyond what most people think of as “hard work” in order to succeed.

My very successful real estate investor friend, Stefan Aarnio, says: “Respect the grind”. He’s right. The path of least resistance is for losers. It’s the hard road that leads to easy street.

My rainmaker’s recipe for investing:

  • Cultivate a mindset of mental toughness and critical thinking.

  • If you are going to make assumptions, assume that everything will go wrong.

  • Learn how to be an opportunist. Look for or create opportunities and act quickly.

  • Master the art of bargaining and negotiation. The gold lies not in rising market values, it comes from negotiating costs.

  • Stop dabbling and fully immerse yourself in mastering your process.

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