How to Enjoy the Real Estate Game

As you can imagine, I meet a LOT of real estate entrepreneurs every year.

And something that I’ve noticed about many of you, including newbies and old pros, is an energy you give off that I can only describe as clenched-upness.

Even folks who are excited, on the surface, about starting or expanding their real estate businesses are often simultaneously radiating a sort of anxiety about the whole thing.

Yes, I understand that what I (and your sellers and buyers and private lenders, by the way) am really feeling is your underlying fear.

Whether it’s a fear that you’re being sold a bill of goods by all the folks (like myself) who tell you that there’s unimaginable money in real estate, or a fear that it works but you can’t do it, or a fear that you WILL succeed and then be judged because you have money and your friends and family don’t, it’s definitely there—at least in most people that I meet.

But there are others, and some of them ARE brand new, who are JUST excited, because (sometimes in the face of all evidence) they seem to have total confidence that, ultimately, everything will work out for them. And guess what? In a MUCH higher percentage of cases than with the hand-wringers, it does.

And no, I’m not going to now exhort you to go out and find, or fake, some confidence. That’s silly, and there’s nothing you can do to get it if you don’t have it OTHER THAN go out and get some deals under your belt.

Instead, I’m going to ask you to try something new: treat real estate investing like you’d treat a game.

Now, before you say, “Wait, what virtual assistant did Vena have write this article? It doesn’t sound like her AT ALL. She’s always telling us to take our businesses seriously, and now she’s saying treat it like a game? What the?”—let me explain.

When you undertake the task of learning to play a game—whether it’s a sport or a video game or a board game or Texas Hold ‘Em—you know assume certain things about it going in. For instance:

There will be rules, and you won’t understand all of them right from the beginning. Sure, you can read the instructions, and you can watch others play, but you won’t REALLY understand how the game is played until you’ve done it a few times. You’ll learn all the rules and conventions by making mistakes and by getting input from the other players. But this doesn’t stop you from getting in there and playing anyway, because it’s really not a matter of life or death if you mess up.

You don’t expect to win at first, and then as you get better, you expect to win sporadically, and then you practice enough to win consistently, and then the game is to master the game. If you love the game, you don’t take your early losses as some sign that you’re no good at it, or have no talent, or are a failure as a human being. You examine each loss to see what caused it, and you don’t make those mistakes again, and with your increasingly higher skill level (and, let’s face it, some unearned luck rearing its head from time to time), you get some wins under your belt, and you think about THOSE and how they came about, and that makes you even better.

If the game is complex enough to be interesting, it could take you YEARS to really master it. But this doesn’t discourage players who enjoy it and want to get good at it. How many THOUSANDS of rounds of golf does the typical amateur golfer pay for, and commit the time to, before they get so good that they feel like they’ve mastered the sport? The fun is in the practice and the playing; the satisfaction of total mastery, while nice, isn’t the only thing that’s good about it. Otherwise, none but the most obsessed or naturally talented players would EVER get good at anything.

You understand that even when you’re highly skilled, you won’t win all the time. I mean, seriously, look at the top athletes in the world—people that everyone agrees might well be the most talented practitioner of their sport ever to live. Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretsky. Shawn White. Bobby Fisher. NONE of them won every time they played. So why do you get so twisted out of shape when you lose a deal?

If you really want to be good, you’ll observe, model, and take advice from coaches and from players that are better than you are. Seriously, who decides that they want to be a great football player, or poker player, or Super Mario player, and then just practices in a vacuum, making up the winning strategies as they go along? People who never get all that good, that’s who.

The. Game. Is. Supposed. To. Be. Fun. When those of us who AREN’T naturally talented enough to ever play in the NBA play basketball, we don’t make every practice session or pick-up game into a referendum on whether we should ever try it again. We enjoy the process. We have fun. We learn as we go along. When we get knocked down, we laugh it off and get back up an play some more. When we get our nose bloodied, we ice it down and come back the next day ready to play some more. We enjoy the process for what it is, not for some far-off goal. And ya know what? If we ever get a chance to play against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, we’re gonna love it even though we KNOW we’re gonna lose.

So here’s my question for you: what if you were able to stop clenching up, and stop thinking about real estate investing as such a do-or-die struggle?

What if you were able to learn the rules as well as you can, then go practice, and not think of it as a failure if you don’t win your first 100 hands?

What if you were able to enjoy the process—to think about each seller conversation as a chance to improve your skills rather than a life-or-death situation in which failure to get a deal means that there are no deals in your city, that you’re no good at this, that you’ll never succeed?

What if you understood that it’s practice, not genius or natural boldness or past successes or crowding your brain with extraordinary levels of education, that makes perfect, and took every opportunity to GET that practice, without expectation of success or failure in that particular case?

Here’s what: you’d relax. You’d have some fun. And ultimately, you’d comfortably and naturally reach that goal—financial freedom—that you’re currently straining for so hard that you can’t enjoy what’s happening in the meantime.

You’re going to go through the exact same process of learning, doing, failing, doing, succeeding, and mastering whether you do it with great anxiety or great relaxed-ness. So you might as well unclench, trust the systems, and enjoy the real estate game.

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