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4 Simple Rules in Real Estate and Life

by Jim Piper   

Here are four rules that have been very helpful to me in both my business and personal life. They were told to me by a long-time real estate broker and investor in California years ago.

1. Show up
2. Pay attention
3. Be truthful
4. Don't be attached to the outcome

Over the years I've spent many, many hours considering the four rules in connection with my conduct in business, my relationships with people, etc. I've come to understand how they really interconnect with each other, but certainly the one that has been most troublesome for me in the beginning was Rule #4.

What I like about these rules is they're easy to remember and simple. I carried them around on an index card and read them daily for years. I was always aware of their existence in my shirt pocket. As I mentioned, I have contemplated these for a long time and certainly there is not enough space here to comment fully, but here's a description of how I used them as it pertains to business.

1. Show up


Clearly in the real estate business you need to show up. This means that you have to look at houses, write offers, find sellers, find buyers, and all other activities. You have to "be there" to do business. But it goes further than this. You need to "show up" for yourself--or "be there" for yourself. This takes a certain amount of personal courage and integrity. If you can't be there for yourself, then who will be? You have to show up for who you are and what you stand for.

2. Pay attention

Once you've shown up, you may be sitting with a buyer or seller. You need to pay attention to what he says, you need to focus on everything that's taking place. In other words you need to "really hear" and focus, not half listen. Part of "pay attention" for me is questioning, so that I understand thoroughly, probing for ALL the details. Rather than be overly involved with your own agenda, really listen to the other guy's situation. I like to pay attention to myself as well, to observe myself. How do I react when I experience rejection? What do I do when someone else is angry, how do I react?

3. Be truthful

I'm always mindful of the story about the golfer who successfully cheats on his golf score by not counting his strokes. He successfully fools everyone else, but he himself knows the truth. This is how I approach my discussions with people. I'm interested in stating the truth as I know it. I'm not interested in fooling someone, while knowing inside that I lied. The interesting thing about the truth is that once it's out there, it may cause some objections or gnashing of teeth, but if you "show up" for yourself, "pay attention," you may well have a possibility of working the situation out to the benefit of both parties. One thing for sure is, you won't be looking over your shoulder. Truth is never the easiest road; but it gets easier the more you use it, and it's amazing how liberating it really is. This also applies to acknowledging the truth about yourself, your situation, and the world around you--a simple acknowledgment of reality.

4. Don't be attached to the outcome

For me this was the most difficult of the four. I've gotten much better with it, but I still struggle at times. Sometimes the situation just isn't right for either yourself or the other party. Walking away with some equanimity of thought, some regard for the fact that when both parties are truthful the best outcome will occur. Sometimes the best outcome is that nothing happens. Every deal, or every situation doesn't have to materialize. And that result is OK, too. Taking the first three steps (rules) and then being able to let go of the outcome and allow the best possible conclusion to take place. Not attempting to force a favorable resolution or expecting it either. Being OK with the results of your actions.

These four rules don't operate individually, but rather they operate together. In other words, if you're "attached to the outcome," you MIGHT be fearful of "showing up." If you've made 10 offers, all of which have been rejected, you might start hating the feeling of rejection, and might not make the 11th offer. If every time you make a phone call, you expect someone to agree with your purpose of the call, but they don't; then you may stop making phone calls. Rather than having to have a particular outcome, but instead allowing WHATEVER outcome to take place and being OK with it, results in the ability to continue to make offers or phone calls.

Being "attached to the outcome" might hinder your ability to "pay attention." Being overly concerned about buying a house might cause your thoughts to wander when you should be focused on listening to the situation. Not listening may bring about the negative result you didn't want to begin with.

Being attached to the outcome might cause you to misstate some of the facts. As an example, if you were trying to buy a house "subject to," you know it's a good deal, and you can make some good upfront money and a nice cash flow--you REALLY WANT this deal. Suddenly the seller asks you whether they are still responsible for the loan. How do you answer? Lying might get you the deal. Mentioning their continuing liability may bring an objection. If you're attached to the outcome, you may be persuaded to lie. If you're not, you lay the truth out to them, handle the objections honestly, and let the chips fall where they may. If the deal doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

I used to begin each conversation with a seller, prior to presenting my offer, by stating these four rules as the rules that I played by. I was willing to be there for myself, listen carefully to what they had to say, be honest and truthful in the things and not pull any punches, and allow the situation to end in the appropriate way. It's amazing how peaceful things can be if you allow it.

As I said, I have thought about these rules for years, and I probably could discuss them in great detail. I also try to apply these rules to my personal life, sometimes more successfully than others. But then again, I'm not attached to the outcome.

It's amazing that when people understand that you're operating with some sense of who you are and what you're about, life becomes considerably easier.

 
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