Go For the Gold (in Life)….

I’m not much of a sports fan. With the exception of race car driving or my children’s activities, I don’t do much spectating of any kind. The Olympics, however, sure do grab my attention. I can’t help but get pulled into the excitement of seeing the world’s premier athletes compete against each other for the glory of the Gold. Watching all of their hard work and diligent training culminate into amazing physical feats of endurance and skill is nothing short of thrilling. My belief is that the athletes don’t just do it for the opportunity to stand on the highest of the three platforms and be crowned with the Gold Medal- it really comes down to the love of something much more than the “win”….it’s a love of the chance to compete, excel and achieve.

I’ve been watching a lot of the summer Olympics with my kids and discussing the dedication and passion that the athletes give to their sport. It got me thinking about what it takes to be successful in any area of life. Why are some few people in life to “win it” and the majority of human beings seem fine with sitting back and watching others achieve their goals?

Just like Olympic athletes, successful people/happy people understand the importance of setting goals and doing what others are not willing to do. When I look around at my circle of influence (I’m fortunate to have great mentors and role models, but this is by design of course)- all the people I respect and admire have common traits. First, they don’t squander their precious time on activities that don’t contribute to the overall quality of their life. They spend their hours doing productive, enriching, educating, empowering, strengthening tasks. They prioritize their health, their interpersonal relationships and their mental well-being.

I recently saw a fantastic quote on a friend’s Facebook page. It was a quote about entrepreneurship and it simply stated, “Entrepreneurship is living your life for a few years like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” Pure brilliance! This is the same commitment shown by Olympic athletes- an undeniable dedication to do what others won’t to achieve a level of success that most people resign themselves to just dreaming about.

I don’t know about you but I value my life and the people in it too much to just let life happen to me. I know that the goals I have are lofty and I don’t fool myself into thinking that I can sit on the couch and still have the life I want. I have to work for it. I have to put in the hours. I have to push myself beyond my boundaries, step outside my comfort zone. But let’s face it, outside your comfort zones is where all of the real exciting and rewarding “stuff” happens.

We don’t need to be Olympic athletes to “Go for the Gold” in life. But we do have to follow their lead and remain committed to our goals if we ever want to achieve a high level of success. I’m making a rare exception to actually sit in front of the t.v. with my kids to watch the Olympics. And I’m doing this because it’s inspiring and a great reminder of what one person can accomplish when he or she looks at life like a constant training ground for high level performance.

Are You A Flea?

Some time ago I was told about a study done to test the limits of fleas.  As the story goes, a box was filled with fleas in an attempt to watch what they would do when placed in a large box.  They immediately started to leap about within the box.  Within a short period of time, they begin leaping to higher levels until they discovered they could leap out of the box seeking their goal, someone’s legs.  This was repeatedly done time-after-time.  The fleas quickly learned they could easily leap out of the box.

Then a clear sheet of glass was placed on top of the box. As the fleas attempted to leap out of the box you could hear them hit their heads against the bottom of the glass.  Jump, tick… jump, tick.  Within a short period of time the ticking stopped.  The fleas, tired of beating their heads against the glass ceiling stopped leaping as high.

After awhile the glass sheet was removed from the top of the box and when placed back into the box, all the fleas jumped about but never leaped out of the box!

The other day I was asked by a friend, “Chief, when is enough, enough?” My immediate knee-jerk answer was, and has always been, never!  But I knew that the simple single word “NEVER” was not a sufficient enough answer.

I have always found it strange that when it comes to money, people always seems to feel that there must be some limit, some glass sheet if you will. But I’ve always asked myself, do those same people ask others when enough is enough?  Does the marathon runner get asked when enough is enough?  How about the famous author excited about penning another great novel?  The artist about to paint another exquisite work of art?  The composer with yet another musical score in her head?  Or the doctor willing to save another life?

“Dr. Jones, when is enough, enough?  Just let this one die.”

Yet when it comes to money, somehow there seems to be “enough”.  No way!  I call B.S.!

If you have kids you never forget their first steps.  Can you imagine your child attempting to take their first few steps and then saying, “okay, that’s enough”?

Then they learn to run.  It’s the funniest darn thing to watch their first gawky attempts to run.  I call it flinging limbs!  But no, hold on, enough is enough.  No need to run.  You’ve tried it a few times and that should be adequate.  Here’s your sheet of glass.

Heaven forbid should your child even think about entering into the 50 yard dash… run a mile… join the cross country team… that’s clearly enough.  What?  You want to enter a marathon… are you crazy?  A triathlon is clearly out of the question.  And an Iron Man… well… you need to be institutionalized for such nonsense!

You need a much thicker sheet of glass.

Okay, Okay, you get my point.  Doesn’t this all sound ludicrous?  But wait, let’s look back at money for a moment.

For some reason society has placed an enormous glass sheet above those who strive to make more money. Well, here is a little insight…

It’s not about the money!

The people who ask the age-ol’ question, “when is enough, enough?”, don’t understand that the “money” is nothing more than the score card!

Let me ask you, how fun would the Olympics be without the time clock?  “Well ladies and gentlemen; we have another exciting winter Olympics to share with you.  The mens’ downhill.  We have several men going to sky at ridiculous speeds down a hill until they stop.  And, well, that’s it.  Medals will once again be handed out randomly to anyone that reaches the bottom.”

WHAT?!?!  Are you crazy?!  No clock?  No time element to determine who was fastest?  Without the clock, I don’t even know how fast they are going!

Ah, but when is enough, enough?  Never… IF, (and here comes the “if” ) , if the rest of your life has meaning.  To put it another way:  if your pursuit in any endeavor leaves a wake of destruction, then your pursuit of the gold, or gold metal, needs to be reassessed.

Everything in life has a score card. How well you are doing at work, how well last night’s dinner tasted, how this morning’s workout in the gym went, the conversation you shared with your child after school, to how much money you made this week.

For me as an investor, it’s really about the deals.  I get excited about seeking opportunity where others do not. To wake up and “get to” playing my game to its highest potential.  Like the Olympics, as a real estate fund manager the hurdles are different, the competition is intense and my clock is how fast my investment fund can turn properties for a profit. Ah, there is that clock element again.

My gold-silver-bronze are the profits we make for ourselves and our clients. Money, the simple score card, the reward for years of dedication, courage, focus and the relentless pursuit of success.  The best part you may ask?  As an investor, there are more than just three winners in the world!  Our investors win, homeowners win, the community wins, 100+ people who work for us win, their families win, and my family wins.  So why on earth should a limit be placed on success when so many people’s life’s are touched in a positive way?

Much like in school, life’s report card has more than one score, one grade.  We are being scored/graded in all areas of our lives.  Several “A”s and a few “B”s can all be overshadowed by that one fat ugly “F”.

One of life’s greatest challenges is the constant diligent strive to create for ourselves, and our families, an outstanding report card.  To insure all the areas of our life are being attended to.  The constant juggle of trying to keep a well-balanced report card.

Life’s greatest gifts and experiences exists beyond the box.  Remove the glass sheet of limitation, have the courage to leap beyond yesterday’s limits because there is never enough life to live.

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