Working for Your “Why?” – Spoiler Alert! It’s not Money!
I was asked recently, “How do I prepare for a career in commercial real estate?”
This was not the first time I have been asked this question, but it’s the first time I had figured out a coherent answer beyond umming and ahhhing and filling the space with nervous rambling! I have finally figured out, through trial and error (and lots of dumb mistakes), that the first thing I have to do before I start any kind of new endeavor is to figure out my “Why?”
Now, this “Why?” is not an existential “Why?” We are not looking for the meaning of life here. We are looking for the reason to focus your efforts to achieve a particular goal. All the effort in the world is not going to help you achieve your goals without a light to guide you down the proverbial tunnel. It is this sense of purpose that compels you to take (calculated) risks and push forward regardless of the odds or obstacles.
It was Nietzsche that said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
There is no definitive answer on how to find your “Why?”
But there are a few questions to ask yourself before you start your commercial real estate journey
1. What gives you energy?
I am not referring to taking a nap or going on vacation! I’m talking about what activities, events or interactions get you fired up, really get your endorphins pumping and excited to participate in?
2. What are your strengths?
What are you intrinsically good at? Everyone has things that they are naturally better at than others. Some people are more empathetically in tune with others, some are more methodical and analytic, while a small sample of the population are great communicators. Its important to remember that we can be passionate about things that we are not good at...I love fly fishing, but my casting skills put everyone with 50 feet in danger of losing an eye! Therefore, we can definitively conclude that I am never going to be able to make a living fishing.
Ken Coleman (Dave Ramsey Show personality) says it best: “Our sweet spot is the intersection of our greatest talent and greatest passion.”
3. Where can you add value?
I spent almost a dozen years in the Army and my value system is based on the ethical guidelines I learned serving my country. So, when I transitioned out of the military and got my first corporate job, I discovered my value system was not in line with how that company wanted to do business. Suffice to say, I didn’t last long in that role! I’m not saying it was a terrible company with awful people working there. It is a very successful business with many nice and capable employees; but I felt like I was banging my head on a brick wall. I couldn’t solve problems or add value to the company based on the difference between how I operated and how the established practices of that company were set up. But at least I [eventually] recognized this because that is half the battle.
4. How do you measure success?
It’s difficult to go through life without standing for something. Deciding to measure our own success means we have to stick our necks out for something we believe in so we can have intentional actions and live in alignment with our intent.
Living and working for your “Why?” will mean you will focus more on what is important in life. We all know the things that matter most are rarely “things.” Following your “Why?” and making money do not have to be incongruous activities, they can coexist. But the “Why?” is rarely the number of zeros in your checking account!