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Inner Game

7 Things Mentally Strong Investors Don’t Do

questionQuestion: Why do you think some real estate investors make it big and seem to enjoy waves of success, while others only marginally or not at all?

What do you suppose the main difference is between:

  • The 1% who seem to have it all go their way most of the time – the ones who just seem to make this real estate thing look easy,
  • The 9% who struggle and push through it, but eventually (usually within a couple of years or so) end up making it,
  • And the 90% who never crack the code and sadly die trying? 

Yes, I just made those stats up, but they feel pretty darn true to me, having personally known and crossed paths with many hundreds of investors at every level in my 13+ years in the biz.

Well I’ll tell you the difference… and believe it or not, in my experience it rarely if ever has anything to do with not having enough (or the right) real estate investing knowledge. In fact, I’ve known faaaaaar too many struggling investors who were exceptionally educated – over-indulged even – in REI tactics and strategies, but still enjoyed very little actual success. Truth be told, I was almost one of them.

This is because hands down the single biggest difference between the awesomely successful and the rest is your “inner game” – it’s your mindset.

If you’ve been around for a while now, then you’re probably already saying to yourself, “Oh great, here he goes again!”  Yep, it’s me going on again about the absolute, freaking criticalness of mastering your inner game – because it’s true. And that’s precisely why every single Monday you get a little slice of “Mindset Monday” every week from us.

Yes, learning the tactics, strategies and tricks, and then deploying them with ninja-like precision is important – crucial even. But the fact of the matter is, it’s the mentally strong who earn their place among the titans in REI, or any arena for that matter. You can know a good deal less tactical knowledge than the next guy, but if you have superior mental strength, you’ll blow him out of the water every time.

brainSo what does it mean to be “mentally strong?”

I admit it: I’m a “Life Hacker” nerd. And recently I ran across this Life Hack article by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker and I was struck by the list she’d compiled of 13 things mentally strong people avoid doing.

It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list with you here, and include a few of my thoughts and convictions on each of these “Don’t Do’s”. As you peruse these things, I challenge you to do a little honest, critical self-assessment here and consider how your own mental strength might need some targeted conditioning.

1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.

Mentally strong people aren’t victim-minded. They don’t constantly look around at their circumstances, shake their tiny fists at God (or the universe or whatever) and cry, “Why me?!?” Nope, mentally strong people understand that life is often unfair, people will let you down at times, and life will always throw you curve balls. They also understand the importance of taking responsibility for your current circumstances, no matter how arbitrary or out of your control they may seem.

The mentally strong tend see misfortune as the necessary speed bumps they have to go over along the road to winning. And each scraped knee or bloody elbow as an opportunity to learn, grow and become better versions of themselves. When things don’t go as planned, they say, “Ouch! OK…so what can I learn from this?  OK, great…now, next!”

There's great sadness and life doesn't work out like you would want, on a lot of levels, but there's no need to feel all alone. This happens to everybody, so there's no self-pity. This is the ride that humans are on, and all of it is essential for our natural part of it. – Mike Mills

Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world. – Helen Keller

2. They don’t give away their power.

The mentally strong don’t let others have control over how they feel about themselves or their choices – parents, friends, business partners, colleagues, etc. They can receive critical feedback (even crave it) but refuse to give others the ability to make them feel inferior or bad about who they are. When others challenge them or their decisions, they can process through it fairly and critically, rather than let it hit them at the core of who they are.

Mentally strong people understand they are in control of how they act and feel, and that their strength is in their ability to choose how they respond, rather than let themselves be led emotionally by how others treat them.

The almost insoluble task is to let neither the power of others, nor our own powerlessness, stupefy us. – Theodor Adorno

No bird soars too high if he soars on his own wings. – William Blake

change3. They don’t shy away from change.

Mentally strong people understand that the only real constant is that things are rarely, if ever, “constant” – change inevitably happens. And they understand the necessity of being flexible in the face of change. In fact, the mentally strong person is often energized by change, and finds the challenge stimulating.

Real estate markets change, values change, partners change, rules and regulations change, politics change…the mentally strong person doesn’t resist these changes; he or she remains alert, aware and constantly looking for ways to position him/herself in front of the new opportunity that change inevitably brings with it.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. – Winston Churchill

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. – Alan Watts

4. They don’t waste their energy on things they can’t control.

There are things you can control and things you can’t. You can’t control how other people treat you, the condition of your housing market, lost luggage, traffic lights, or the rules of the game set by banks, Realtors, politics, etc. But you can control your own actions (in how you respond to these things) and emotions (how you feel about these things).

So why would you want to waste even the tiniest amount of energy or time complaining (see #1 above) about those things you can’t do anything about? Mentally strong people don’t do that. Instead they focus as much as humanly possible on what they can control.

Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now. – Denis Waitley

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. – Reinhold Niebuhr

5. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone.

We all enjoy experiencing the approval and favor or others around us. But mentally strong people don’t feel constantly pulled into people pleasing. They’re not afraid to speak up when something needs to be said, and deal with pushback or negativity when/if it comes back to them because of it.

Sometimes you have to tell a seller that you can’t solve their house problem, or that their idea of what it’s worth or how much repairs are needed are way off base. Sometimes you need to call a friend or business partner out on an irresponsible decision or unwise choice. Mentally strong people understand the value of “shooting straight”, but also the importance of doing so with kindness, fairness and grace.

To me, business isn't about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It's about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials. – Richard Branson

Some people lose all respect for the lion unless he devours them instantly. There is no pleasing some people. – Will Cuppy

risk6. They don’t worry about taking calculated risks.

Risk is a tricky thing. Many of us avoid it at all costs, out of fear of the failure or pain that risk might bring. Others carelessly jump headfirst into it, and…well, results may vary. I’m a fan of risk, but not foolhardiness. There’s a difference, and mentally strong people understand it. They’re willing to go out on a limb because that’s where all the fruit is.  But before ignorantly jumping in, they’re calculating risk, hedging bets, and weighing all the options and information available to them first.

Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing. – Denis Waitley

Do one thing every day that scares you. Eleanor Roosevelt

7. They don’t dwell on the past.

Learning the lessons from your past mistakes is one thing – and even critical to your success. But mulling over your past struggles and failures, and letting them hold you down today is another thing entirely. Mentally strong people know the difference. They never let themselves sit in regret or shame for very long. They self-assess, accept critical feedback, glean and grow from their mistakes and let it become part of the success story they’re constantly crafting. They leverage their mistakes not only in their own lives, but in helping others around them. But never let the negativity of those mistakes suck the wind out of their sails keep them from crafting the best today and tomorrow possible.

You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space. – Johnny Cash

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.  – George Bernard Shaw

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes. – Oscar Wilde

So…got sufficient mental strength? Anything on this list hit you squarely between the eyes?

As for me I’m on an ongoing, constantly evolving endeavor to beef up my mental strength. How about you?


Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself. When things don’t go as planned, they say, “Ouch! OK…so what can I learn from this?  OK, great…now, next!”
  • Don’t let others have control over how you feel about yourself or your choices. Be in control of how you choose to act, feel and choose to respond to others around you.
  • Don’t shy away from change. Learn instead how to become energized by change and see it as new opportunity for learning and growth.
  • Stop wasting time or energy on things you can’t really control.
  • Stop trying to please everyone – it’s impossible and a futile waste of your time and energy.
  • Don’t be afraid of taking calculate risks for the sake of advancement/progress – learn how to go on a limb because that’s where all the fruit is.
  • Stop dwelling on the past. Learn from your success and your failure, then take those lessons into the future without constantly looking back.

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