Have you ever noticed how some people seem to rise to the top of their chosen field, or journey ever higher up the property ladder, while others consistently achieve the same “average” results? In the 1990s, management guru Dr Stephen Covey explained what he believed to be the defining characteristics that distinguished “highly effective people” in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which has become a modern-day business classic.
Not surprisingly the seven habits Covey suggests we should aspire to if we want to replicate the achievements of others are also very important to the business of property investment.
Habit 1 – Be proactive
Life isn’t simply a series of events that happen to us. In every moment, you’re faced with a choice and the opportunity to move forward in your life’s purpose. You can choose to have a positive or negative attitude and you can choose to take control or be controlled. This is about either taking responsibility for your own destiny or being overtaken by the actions of others and in doing so becoming a victim.
Application: Become the pilot of your life and not a passenger. You’re where you are because of all the things you’ve chosen to do and all of those you’ve chosen not to do. Either you run the day or the day runs you.
Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind
By focusing on your desired outcomes, you’ll be compelled to lead yourself toward the goals, thus developing the habit of personal leadership. The key is in blocking out the distractions that can inhibit forward momentum by instead concentrating your efforts on relevant actions to propel you forward.
Application: All the successful investors I know have set themselves a long-term goal of financial independence and have a written plan and strategy of how they’re going to get there. Then it’s easier for them to make their investment decisions in light of their goals and not be distracted by the short-term market noise.
Habit 3 – Put first things first
Once you’ve established attainable goals, you must develop the bait of planning and implementing activities to enable you to reach them. Importantly, you need to learn to prioritise your actions to reflect your values and life purpose. This is the art of manifesting your ideas into physical reality by taking a step-by-step approach.
Application: Keep the big picture in mind but don’t be afraid to say no to so-called opportunities if they don’t fit in with your plan. I’ve made more money by saying “no” to deals than by saying “yes”. Take personal responsibility because while you can’t change the circumstances, the cycle, or the market, you can change yourself. That’s something you can control.
Habit 4 – Think Win-Win
More is gained from life through cooperation than competition.
Application: Win-win not only applies to negotiations, but to all elements of your life. Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.
Habit 5 – Seek first to understand and then to be understood
Most people engage in conversation to be heard, rather than to understand. Instead of really hearing what someone else is telling us, we spend our “listening time” thinking about our reply. In doing so, we place our philosophies on others, without truly hearing them. As a consequence, we go through life missing out on valuable insights.
Application: Many investors suffer from confirmed bias, which is the tendency to begin with an answer and then search for evidence to support the preconceived outcome. The lesson here is to be sceptical of your preconceptions and try to disprove your own theories rather than continually defending them.
Habit 6 – Synergise
Creative cooperation among humans allows us to uncover new solutions to old problems. When we interact with each other and apply the rule of empathetic listening, we augment our brainpower and grow from our experiences with others.
Application: There’s no such thing as a self-made millionaire. Every successful property investor turns to a proficient team of consultants for advice and to mentors for inspiration and counsel. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up, rather than negative nellies who will drag you down.
Habit 7 – Sharpen the saw
The greatest asset you’ll ever have is yourself. To be effective, you must look after the tools you have control over – mind, body and spirit. Maintain balance in all you do and never stop learning.
Application: The best investment you can make to ensure success is in your own wisdom. Don’t be afraid to spend, or invest, money on your education and be prepared to learn not only from your victories, but also from your mistakes and those of others.
Michael Yardney, Australian Property Investor, August 2014
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