Have you ever been in a position where you just can’t believe how you got yourself into such a mess?
You know, things are going wrong, nothing’s working as planned?
Real estate investing produces those kinds of days.
Actually, any business produces those kinds of days, they just seem to pop up with real estate investing on some sort of scheduled, reoccurring pattern.
And the size and scope of the “crappy day” will often increase over time.
I remember, about ten years ago, closing on a property with Nick.
On the actual closing day he was in Europe. In Paris, France … on a tour through Europe. I remember that day vividly because the morning started off with our Mother in a panic.
Nick had called from France to say he landed and was OK but there was a hiccup with his accommodations and he hiked his way into downtown Paris to try and find somewhere to sleep … the trip, the confusion with where he was staying and the hike into town had left him exhausted and hungry. He found a bakery to buy a loaf of bread and headed to a park to lay down and get some rest. But before he did he found a public restroom where he could “freshen up”.
It was one of those restrooms where you have to pay with a few coins to use them. You know the kind, after you pay you have like 5 seconds to enter the thing before the door locks again.
Upon entering his backpack got stuck in one door and somehow another door slammed into his face … hard. He smashed his nose and it began bleeding badly all over his shirt, his pants, his hands and he was now stuck … sandwiched between these two doors because of his large backpack.
Nick’s a big strong dude, so he somehow ripped his way out of the situation and then proceeded to use the shirt he was wearing to stop the bleeding.
After the shock of the event (I still laugh every time I hear it….what else is a brother for?) he lay down on a bench or ledge or something to catch a quick nap. Apparently he tied his backpack to his body somehow so now one would steal it. I’m actually laughing as I type this!
I can only assume he was mentally and physically exhausted.
A short time later he woke up to find himself in the middle of a mob of people … apparently the park was part of the route for the Gay Pride Parade in Paris. And he was right in the middle of it. Backpack, bloody shirt and from what I understand, in no mood to be part of a parade.
So needless to say by the time he called home to let his caring mother know that he landed in Europe safely he had a lot to report.
“Crap had hit the fan” for him that morning in Paris and he was not enjoying it. Looking back it makes for a great story though, doesn’t it?
Our Mom was spooked by it … she was worried for him. I was amused 🙂
Later that day I got a call from our Lawyer to say our rental property had closed. And the literally, an hour later, the tenants we had inherited called to let me know that the grass needed cutting, the microwave was broken and there was some strange bedroom door handle that need fixing ASAP. I was nervous and no idea how to handle any of this … so I just agreed to everything they said.
I guess this was some sort of payback for me enjoying Nick’s pain earlier in the day.
For me, that moment, as small as it seems now, was the crap hitting the fan.
I took apart my own lawn mower and stuffed it into the trunk of my Honda Civic … my brand new Honda Civic.
A friend called at about the same time and I explained what was going on … he mentioned he had won a microwave at a stag or something and that I could have it.
I then packed up my toolbox and headed down to the property.
When I got there I was too scared to even talk to the tenants so I just assembled my mower and began cutting. I didn’t even say hello. It was interesting to watch the tenants peak at me through the windows as I peaked back at them.
LOL, I can’t believe that’s the way it went, but that’s exactly what happened.
I then finished the grass, knocked on the door, and barely said Hi as I walked into their kitchen to plunk down a new microwave on the counter.
Next, I asked where the door handle was that needed fixing and with my limited handy man skills proceeded to patch up some sort of fix for it. The entire time one of the tenants was watching my work over my shoulder. It was horrible. I was sweating … badly.
I then excused myself, hopped into my car and drove home. I had no idea when I was going to pick up the next rent cheques and really had no clue what I was doing. I don’t even know if I told them my name. I think I spoke 5 works throughout the entire visit.
It was horrible but I survived and we actually still own that property.
Since that time our problems have gotten bigger. Three years ago we were working with three investors and each of them was have a really difficult time finding tenants for their properties. To make matters worse, one of the investors was a close friend.
They were beginning to go from “problem” to “panic” and as each week went by it just got worse and worse. I felt crap was hitting the fan again. For a brief moment I just wanted to pack it in and quit.
I remember going to visit one of the properties to check out what was going on and something changed in me that day.
I told myself something that you’ll read about further down. It changed things for me … forever.
You have to understand, at that time dealing with those three properties was a serious, serious problem for me.
A little while later all the properties had tenants and each investor was really happy.
Since then we’ve had “crap hitting the fan days” many times.
Vacant properties, refinancing issues, funky appraisers, banks changing their mind on closing day, accounting challenges, process problems, other agents who think their #@!%$ doesn’t stink, interest rate changes, local and global economic disasters. The list of things that can create a crappy day is endless.
As we’ve grown there are MORE reasons for crap to hit the fan, not less.
But how it affects us has changed over the years. It’s changed a lot.
Here’s our advice on how to handle things when crap hits the fan:
1. Remember that you are not alone. There’s a tendency to “turtle” and going into hiding when problems pop up. That’s what the average response is and you’re not average. Get up and deal with the situation. Remember, handling stress is your competitive advantage. Tackle things head on. When you don’t feel like doing something about the problem … that’s the exact moment when you should be taking action. Don’t let emotions stop you. Emotions are useless.
2. Speak to other people. You need to talk to other people who have been through what you are going through. Find a mentor, a mastermind group, a networking group, friends, colleagues, professionals … find others who can give you new perspective. It’s important because they’ll share stories of how they’ve handled similar situations. You’re not the first person to have a bad day … and it’s likely all you are really experiencing is growing pains. You’re growing and tackling new things. Find others who have gone before you.
3. Write down what is going on. You likely won’t want to do this or have the patience for it. BUT DO IT. Write down the situation and then brainstorm the IMMEDIATE actions that can be done to move forward.
4. Take the first step. Once you’ve written things down – take action. You’ll be surprised at how quickly things resolve themselves when you take action. We’re constantly amazed at how problems just begin to disappear when talking is replaced with action. If you can’t take action immediately, which is best, get out your calendar and book time to handle the issue.
5. GET BIGGER PROBLEMS. This is the best advice we can offer you. Above I mentioned that the day I went to visit the 3 vacant properties that something changed for me. That day I told myself that if I wanted to grow into the business and person that I wanted to then I needed bigger problems. That this problem was just a tiny bump in the road. That I needed problems like this because it meant I was growing. That I actually needed MORE PROBLEMS, not less. I need bigger ones and I needed them to come faster because that meant we were changing and growing into new opportunities. That’s what problems are … opportunities! Those 3 vacant homes were the opportunity for me to learn how to handle stress, to learn how to deal with a new situation, to take action, to prosper.
Most people run from problems.
If you’re handling the exact same problems today that you were handling last year then you’re not growing.
Look, problems are going to come and go. And you’ll through long stretches without them.
But reflect on this.
The opposite of a problem is not a solution. The opposite of problems is lack of personal growth.
I had a property this Fall that had three vacancies. Years ago that would have bothered me. Today, I now what to do to get it handled and it doesn’t phase me … at all. I’ve grown past that type of problem. We know what to do and how to get it done.
So the next time you’re freaking out about something, find bigger problems. Take action on the current problem and find a big fat juicy goal to focus on that’s full of problems.
Go after it.
By doing that you’re looking forward. You’re not looking backwards. You’re focusing on growing.
And by doing that you’ll find that what seemed like crap today will melt away tomorrow.
Until next time … Your Life. Your Terms.