I was reminded the other day of one of my favorite childhood movies, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the not so lovable character Veruca Salt. She wanted everything and she wanted it now! Aren’t we all just a little like that? But reality is that things take time. I’d like to spend a little time talking about the learning curve and how to set our expectations when it comes to real estate investing.
Let’s start by defining the learning curve: the rate at which a new subject or skill is learned (www.dictionary.com).
Everything is hard before it becomes easy. That is a given. Take a toddler learning to walk. The effort the child has to put forth is huge. They will have bonks on the head, plops on the rear end, and will hang on to anything and everything as they start to stand and move. This is the steepest part of the curve. Then they will let go, find their balance, shuffle their feet and off they go. They have overcome frustration and challenges to get past the steepest part of the curve. There is no stopping them now and no looking back.
The same holds true for us. I tell my story of the first investment property I purchased and how every decision and step was scary and hard. Then a couple of years later I get a call from escrow, “The property has closed and you need to pick up your keys.” I closed that property with none of the anxiety of that first transaction and I thought, boy I’ve come a long way.
So what are some of the tools for success we can use to get us through the steepest part of the curve so we can enjoy the fruits of our efforts?
- The objective/goal must be in clear focus at all times
- Don’t get side tracked by adversity
- Seek Support and Coaching
Below is a great story that shows how important it is to keep your eye on the objective while overcoming the learning curve.
Florence Chadwick wanted to be the first woman to swim the English Channel. She trained and disciplined herself for years, working past the point of exhaustion. The big day arrived and things were going well until she neared the coast of England. There the fog got very heavy the waters were cold and rough. All of this impeded her progress and not realizing she was within a few hundred yards from her goal, she quit. She was heartbroken when she found out how close she was to accomplishing her goal. She was quoted by reporters saying, “I’m not offering excuses, but I think I would have made it if I would have been able to see my goal.” She tried again after she developed a mental image of England and the coastline. She memorized every feature of the distant landscape and held it firmly and clearly in her mind. She was again hindered by fog, frigid water and high turbulent seas, but this time she accomplished her objective. The reason she was able to accomplish it was because she never lost sight of the goal. The English Coastline and the goal were in her mind’s eye the whole way across, no matter the conditions.
Losing sight of the goal and where we are on the learning curve can cause us to leap prematurely to something else that we feel holds better promise – but all that means is that we start the learning curve all over again.
Our ability to focus always precedes our success. Focusing, testing, practicing and perfecting our systems, skills, attitude, knowledge and activities will speed our climb to the top of the learning curve.
You can flatten the learning curve somewhat by having great instructors and coaches to help you through the steepest part. They can be examples that it does get easier.