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Inner Game

Your Past: Use it as a School, Not a Weapon

what do you meanHey guys, JP here…

So… anyone who knows me, knows that I am a firm believer in the power of the mindset and the role it plays in your success (or lack thereof) as a real estate investor. Every real estate investor I've ever known has failed due to some form of self-sabotage of the mindset or some inner game mistake (and not some tactical error in the grand scheme of things).

This is the exact reason we put out a new lesson every single Monday designed to sharpen that mind of yours. And, it's also why I am constantly a student engaging in books that will educate my brain – the 12 inches of real estate between my ears.

I’d like to share with you something that really hit me pretty hard…

A book I recently read, by the great Jim Rohn, called The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle (highly recommended BTW). It's a quick read, and if you're not familiar with Jim Rohn, he is kind of “The Grandfather” of personal development. In fact, Tony Robbins worked for him before Tony Robbins was, well, Tony Robbins.

It’s All In Your Head. Literally.

And, today's lesson comes right from page 48 of this great work by Jim Rohn. Let's cut to the chase...


Pretty powerful, huh? Well, let's break this down a little further and explore, if you will, some of what is embedded in here that I think is so noteworthy. Beginning with the first line...

Right from the top:

Having a healthy and mature attitude about the past can make a major difference in anyone's life.

 So, let's talk about that for a minute…

One of the things I've heard a lot of people say is:

My past doesn't define me.

Which, to be honest, is a load of crap. The fact is that your past always defines you. Everyone's past defines them. But, the deal is – the really cool part is – you actually get to decide how to use it. And, understanding that is really one of the first, biggest, most important keys to having a healthy attitude about the past. You can figure out how to use it as an asset to yourself and as fuel for who you're trying to become.

One of the best ways to approach the past is to use it as a school, not as a weapon. We must not beat ourselves to death with past mistakes, faults, failures and losses.

The fact is:

Some of just naturally excel in letting our past hold us hostage and constantly beat us down. Without even knowing it, we give incredibly negative meanings to the occurrences of our past.

But, here's the reality:

pastIt may feel like you are a victim of your past, but the past that you have been given, in reality, has the potential to be a powerful tool. And, that's a tool that you can use either as a sword upon which you impale yourself over and over again for your sins or as a sharpening stone upon which you constantly sharpen yourself.

And again, I say, the brilliant part of that is that you get to choose which it is. But, most people never realize that they even have that choice. They feel like they simply are a product of their past by default rather than by choice.

Let's keep reading…

The events of the past, both good and bad, are all part of the life experience. For some, the past may have been a harsh teacher. But, we must remember to let the past educate us and bring the value of its experience into our lives.

 So, it kind of begs the question:

What does it take to let the past educate you, to use it as a school?

Well… first, I submit that you have to choose to intentionally adopt this as one of your core values… that you will not be a victim of the past. You will be a champion of what the past can turn you into.

And, you have to take the time to survey the mistakes of your past, and then get guts-level honest with yourself and really ask yourself:

What kind of impact am I allowing my past mistakes to have upon me?

And, you then have to decide right now that you're no longer a slave to your mistakes and your blunders. Instead wear the scars that you have earned in life's battles. After all, your life is a battlefield (at that the risk of sounding like some kind of love song). But it is. And, these scars can be valiantly worn.

The Scars I Wear…

I'm going to take a moment and tell you a story of some of the scars of my past. Years ago, I lost several houses to foreclosure. It was smack in the middle of my early real estate investing career. The fact of the matter is, I made a lot of mistakes early on. I bought into some rental properties that were bad houses in bad parts of town that only attracted the wrong kind of tenants. I didn't have any cash reserves and I just didn't know what I was doing.

So, I made a lot of innocent mistakes and I know I'm in good company. A lot of investors make mistakes early on.

Well, I got to a point where I was wholesaling houses and doing pretty well as a wholesaler. But, due to these rentals that were like a millstone around my neck, I just couldn't get ahead. With every wholesale deal that I landed, that money seemed to go right into supporting these crappy rental houses. I remember at one point, I had half of my houses vacant. I was going to have the biggest month of profit in my wholesale business that I'd ever had…

But, when I sat down to do the math, it was like a sucker punch when I realized that if I took all the money I was going to make from the biggest month of wholesaling yet and put it all into these rental properties, it would just get them up into rentable condition again.

And then, I'd have to rent them out again to crappy tenants. That wouldn't even stop the bleeding of those mortgage payments I had to make on those vacant houses.

scarSo, I talked to some friends of mine at the time, some industry colleagues who were a lot further down the real estate investing road than I am…

(By the way, side note, I highly recommend you have local people on your side who are further down the road than you are – who you have invested in –  who are therefore willing to invest in you.)

So, when I asked these guys what to do, I was surprised to have them kind of knowingly pat me on the back and say, "Welcome to the club!"

They guided me through the process of releasing some of those properties back to the bank, and at first, I couldn't believe this. I couldn't believe that they were okay with the idea that I was going to experience foreclosure on about half of these houses.

And they said:

We looked back into our past. In fact, if you look back into the past of any successful real estate investor who's been in it for the long haul, you'll see some real bumps and bruises and some dips like this. But, the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is not that those who succeed don't make the same mistakes. It's that those who succeed get back up again. And, they take what they can and learn what they can from those mistakes and they let it turn them into a better version of themselves on the other side.

Who My Past Turned Me Into…

So, this was my crucible. This was my trial. This was one of the battles I was going to fight as a real estate investor and a test of whether or not I had staying power or whether I would let it defeat me.

I chose right then and there.

Well, it took me about 48 hours to get over the shock of it. But after that, I chose that this is actually going to be something I'll look back on in the not too distant past and be able to teach other people about how to not make the same mistakes I made.

I'll be able to be honest and vulnerable with other investors and share with them the reality of my experience, which was certainly not a constant upward trajectory, but much more like an upward trend with lots of dips and valleys on the line graph along the way.

So, my commitment to use my mistakes as an opportunity to help other people and help myself not make the same mistakes breathed new wind into my sails. So the rest, as they say, is history.

I have a much different and more successful business now. But, I still tell that story, and it gives me a special ability to connect with people who are going through similar hard times.

This principle of using your past as a school, not a weapon doesn't apply just to the distant past. It actually applies to the past of last week... it applies to the past of yesterday… or the past of just moments ago with the last mistake that you made.

When you make your past as a school and when that becomes your new core value, then you deliberately adopt this new discipline of intentionally and methodically extracting everything of value that you can out of each and every mistake that you make.

Actually, this whole conversation reminds me of some of the other lessons we've published here at Mogul. If this message hits you between the eyes, then here's some extra credit reading that you should read that’ll drive all of this home for you:

Extra Credit:

And now, let's conclude today's cage rattling with another slice of awesome from the granddaddy of personal development, Jim Rohn.  Here’s another picture of a segment from the book to wrap today’s lesson.

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What Do You Guys Think?

What do you think about using your past as a school rather than a weapon? Or letting it be your servant rather than your master? I’d like to hear your thoughts and what scars you wear that we can all learn from.


Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps

Choose to adopt your past and be a champion, not a victim.

Analyze the impact your past has on you by getting gut-level honest with yourself.

Wear your scars valiantly.

Keep a healthy mindset by using your past as a school, not a weapon.

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