That Won’t Work

When I was younger, I was frequently dismayed when someone expressed extreme negativity towards some plan or idea I had advanced. “Nobody does it that way,” they would say. Or, “I’ve heard that nobody makes money doing that.”

A few years ago, I experienced this same type of negativity when I expressed an interest in rental real estate. I was quickly barraged with a litany of reasons why doing so is a bad idea. What was particularly interesting was that none of the people who provided this advice had ever invested in real estate. And the people who had invested in real estate gave me very different advice.

It is certainly possible to have accurate information about some activity without actually engaging in it. For example, I have never stuck a sharp stick in my eye, but I am certain that it would hurt. My conclusion is drawn from the knowledge that sticking myself with a sharp object always hurts.

I responded to this negativity by mentioning that, with the proper systems in place, real estate can be far less of a hassle than these individuals believe. They responded with another chorus of negativity–specifically, they attacked my belief that systems can overcome virtually any problem. And that brings me to my point.

In simple terms, a system is a specific way of acting. It is a recognition of cause and effect. If you act a certain way, you get certain results. If we identify the actions that will get us the desired results, then success is largely a matter of taking those actions. (I say “largely” because there are factors outside of our control that we must consider.) Systems are the means by which we identify and document the actions we should take.

In the context of real estate, this means following the steps of successful real estate investors. More broadly, this means following the steps of those who have experienced success in any realm, including paint contracting.

I certainly don’t mean to suggest that success is merely a matter of mindlessly following the dictates of someone else. We must always exercise our own independent judgment, and adapt our actions to our particular situation. But if we want to achieve success, we can save ourselves a lot of time, money, and grief by listening to those who have achieved it.

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