Investing Is Like Fire

I can’t do it.  I can’t take a risk.  I can’t jump off the high dive.  

I can’t live without netflix.  I can’t live without a brand new car.  I can’t live without a bigger house.

I can’t save money.  I can’t buy a second house for my long term financial security.  I don’t know how to invest.

These first few lines are the kinds of things that I often hear from those who tell me that they want to invest in real estate.  These are all fears and defeatist ideas.  I will try not to focus on these ideas any more because they truly can be infectious.  So wash your hands after reading this one so you don’t catch any of that negativity above!

Get your mind right

My purpose in writing this blog is to help you understand and BELIEVE that you CAN do whatever it is you want to do whether it is real estate or something completely different. I am no self-help guru but I know these things work from personal experience.  You have to get your mind right and the rest of you will follow.

What you focus on matters!

In motorcycle riding classes the instructors always say to look where you want to go; not at what you are avoiding.  In other words, if you are in a curve and there is a rock in the road, don’t focus on the rock; focus on the area beside the rock where you want your tire to go.  It works on a bicycle too if you want to try it but your membership to the Hell’s Angels has recently lapsed.  Try it sometime on something that is inconsequential if you hit it; maybe a road reflector.  If you focus on it, you’ll likely hit it.  I think this lesson carries over to everything.  For me it carries over into firefighting, parenting, and investing in real estate.  If I think about how I don’t want to be a bad parent all the time, I am giving bad parenting too much energy.  I choose to think about how I can be a great dad.  I’m not saying I have accomplished it (check back in twenty years) but I choose to focus on the positive side of the same issue.  With firefighting, we take a lot of risk sometimes but if we focused on the fear that might exist, we’d never step off the fire truck.  We have to focus on the good that we may be able to accomplish amidst the fear.  Investing is the same way.  I can think of so many ways that I could fail and just stop learning and go back to watching TV right now.  I can drive my brand new car and be one paycheck away from financial ruin but feel like I’m not taking any risks.  I choose to focus on the potential that I have inside me.  I focus on constantly learning and I mitigate the risks.  I have taught myself to believe that I will be successful in my endeavors.  It doesn’t mean I don’t still have doubts but I fight them back by education and action.  Small successes start to push back those doubts little by little.

Listen to your mentors

Here’s an example.  When I was in my 20’s and lived alone, I wanted to promote to the rank of Engineer in the Fire Department more than anything I had ever wanted up to that point.  But I was young.  I didn’t have the seniority points that I needed to be really competitive.  I set my mind that I would do everything in my power to reach that goal.  My sister, my personal Yoda (but prettier), told me to envision the process of walking up and handing in a perfect score of 100.  She advised me to write Engineer Will Pritchett on post-it notes and put them on my bathroom mirror and other places I’d see it while studying.  She coached me into visualizing my success.  It worked.  It wasn’t the woo woo kind of, “think it into existence but do no work”, kind of work.  It was the “envision every step to include handing in a perfect score and then take those steps”, work.  So I began stepping.  It was hard work.  My co-workers on the engine and my closest friends would prod me when I felt tired and ask how bad I wanted it.  They kept me on my toes and focused.  These were my first accountability partners.  They didn’t make me who I am but without their help and accountability and prodding, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  This concept works.  Get around people you admire and look up to.  Say your audacious goals out loud.  Let them tell you how to get there and listen to them.  Then start taking those steps.  Most of the places we want to go, someone has been to before.  Ask them how to get there.  Then follow the map with intense focus.  Almost starts to sound too simple, right?  

It is simple.  It’s not easy but there is a recipe.  If you want something, find the recipe.  

Enthusiasm matters

If I wanted to be a world champion curler (the one with the rock thing that slides on ice – not the dumbbell one or the hair one).  I wouldn’t have any idea how to begin.  I certainly wouldn’t walk to an ice-skating rink with a rock.  I’d look for books and podcasts on curling.  I’d read every word.  I’d try it out to see if I really like it.  Then I might hire a coach.  Then I’d ask what I need to do to become a champion.  Then I would do what he or she says.  And I would do it with enthusiasm and passion.  I would curl so damn excitedly that you would want to start curling.  Then, before long, we’d have the first ever curling club of south Texas.  And on and on.  This positivity is just as infectious as the negativity can be.  When people ask me how I find private lenders I basically tell them the “curling story” except with a little less ridiculous subject.  My curling story is that I started learning this recipe for buying houses and I kept reading more and more and wanting to share what I learned with others.  And my excitement and enthusiasm were infectious to people.  Before long, people were offering to lend me money.  Without me asking!  In fact, every lender we have ever had approached us to lend.  Doesn’t that sound crazy?  We have borrowed a LOT of money and we have had to solicit zero.  I don’t say this to brag but to show how doing something you are passionate about tends to attract people.  And whatever you are after can be the same way.  If it is real estate, I suggest you get passionate about it.  I suggest you get just a little bit obsessed with learning about it.  And I bet opportunities will begin to find you.  

When I studied for my Engineer’s exam I ate dinner with note cards and drove to work with recordings of myself reading the books out loud.  I worked out with study guides and had my partners quiz me on the way to emergencies amidst lights and sirens.  When I started learning about real estate I listened to free podcasts while I mowed the yard and commuted to and from work.  I read every thing I could find at the library and book store.  I read blogs about all kinds of real estate.  I began to actually be able to talk about the subject like I knew what I was doing.  And man, was I excited.  I think the competence of speaking intelligently about the subject and being enthusiastic is a magic combination when you have a deal or two in your rearview mirror to establish a track record.  That leaves that first deal or two as the most challenging-as I often say.  These may take a partner or a hard money lender to get them under your belt.  You are after experience more than profit on these.  Stay fired-up and the next deals will come easier; as will the money.  

So we have been covering a lot of ways to get stared lately and there are many more than what we covered but I needed to put this out regarding mindset.  I dislike seeing people that aren’t excited about what they are doing.  It makes me sad.  I wish everyone could find something to do that they are passionate about.  When you find something that you are passionate about, you just may find yourself waking up at 5am to write about it.  But you may also find someone knocking on your door wanting to fund that thing you are passionate about.  We have to remove our self-imposed limits and believe we can accomplish that thing.  We may not all have a personal Yoda but they are out there.  We may not have an accountability group but they are out there.  Meet people doing what you want to do.  Form your own group.  We are members of several groups.  Our accountability/mastermind group was carefully selected and gives us great value.  The cost is zero dollars but just commitment to the group and the purpose of making each other better.  When I get around this group I leave feeling energized and motivated to spring forward into more action.  It is synergistic.  

You are your biggest limitation (or asset!)

I will leave you with an idea that you are your only real limitation.  If you want something bad enough, and it doesn’t have to be real estate or financial freedom, you can attain it.  It really is that simple.  You have to get your mind right and be on fire with your passion.  On a recent Bigger Pockets podcast, I heard the story of a single mother of two children at the age of 22 who was a waitress that now owns ten doors free and clear.  This story is like gasoline to my fire.  Hearing inspirational stories like this remind me how much opportunity exists and how tiny my obstacles are.  She was truly inspiring.  These stories are educational and motivational. These stories are like the fuel and the oxygen to my fire but I still have to be the spark that gets it all going.  I am no Yoda but I hope this has put a little more fuel on your fire and has fanned a little fresh air on it.  My advice is to find those that add fuel to your fire and steer clear of those who try to put it out (through negativity).  

When we pull up to a structure fire in a fire engine and the components of fuel, oxygen, and heat have come together in the right proportions, we report “smoke showing”.  I hope you are beginning to have “smoke showing” as you move forward.  Sorry but I know fire and the metaphor just works.  Getting the fire started is the hardest part but then it grows with less and less input.  Remember that you are the heat that starts this fire.  Without your personal spark it is just sticks and air.  

Focus on what you want to accomplish and move away from naysayers.  Be “on fire” with your excitement and speak intelligently on the topics you are passionate about.  And above all, “keep the main thing the main thing”!

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