MOST OF WHAT I NOW KNOW,
I DID NOT LEARN IN SCHOOLS!
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, August 12, 2018
It was over THIRTY years ago and I remember it as if it were yesterday. The lesson learned has been so vividly etched in my mind I doubt I will forget it nor will I ever tire of passing the message along to anyone who will listen; hopefully you.
I retired from the U. S. Coast Guard in 1985 after twenty years service. Most of my Coast Guard duties in my two specialties Personnel Administration and Merchant Marine Safety required a great deal of reading of government prepared instructions and manuals. I would then teach others the contents of those instructions and manuals. If you have never been involved with the Federal Government you have no idea how boring and tiresome reading that type of material and language can be. It’s like reading materials written by attorneys. You have to understand legalize before you can understand what they have written or attempting to convey to the non-legal reader.
I was first licensed as a Real Estate Salesperson in May, 1980 about five years BEFORE I retired from the Coast Guard. It was clear, at least to me, that if I applied myself to real estate sales, there was no upper limit to my potential income provided I knew what to do and when to do it. But keep in mind I was a teacher in the Coast Guard; I enjoyed teaching others. Almost from the first day of becoming licensed, I created a life’s mission statement. I think it was Sales Trainer Roger Butcher who suggested having one. Mine was and remains:
To help others do what they do to do it better!
Then I took a page from Joe Tye who created the Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) principle and I put my life’s mission statement to practical use. I would constantly ask myself the question. “Is what I am about to say or do consistent with my desire to help others do what they do to do it better?” If the answer was YES, I would say or do it. If the answer was NO, I wouldn’t. It really is that simple. I have written about this process many times in the past; it never gets old because it never fails to work.
Now the year is 1986. I was selling real estate for a small independent real estate company in Slidell, Louisiana. The phone rang. It was a miracle. I had set a goal but told no one. The goal was to manage a full service real estate office where I could put my management skills (from the Coast Guard) and my teaching skills (also from the Coast Guard) to good use by teaching agents new to the real estate business how to list and sell real estate. Keep in mind, I told no one of this goal. Yet here was a call from the Vice President of a large franchise real estate company in the New Orleans area asking if I would be interested in managing their office about 25 miles from where I lived and worked.
I jumped at the opportunity. Gave my current real estate broker a thirty day notice and then sat back and began to think about what I had just accepted. The new office had about 25 agents and was located in a great residential area in Louisiana where sales were good as were the incomes generated through real estate sales. Then as I am sure happens to just about everyone, you begin to doubt your own talents as I began to doubt mine. That is when the second unsolicited miracle happened.
I was thumbing through a magazine while I waited to get the oil changed in my car. I say “thumbed” through because I rarely if ever actually read anything anymore because that is all I had done for twenty years in the Coast Guard. I had no desire or intention of reading much of anything. Yet there it was, an advertisement for a Cassette Tape Instruction entitled Creating Teamwork by Lee Shelton. And yes you can still get the tapes by clicking on the blue link above. I don’t remember how much the tapes were but given that I was about to embark on a new position where creating teamwork seemed to be the order of the day, price was not a consideration; I purchased the tapes.
I listened to those tapes over and over and then over again before I started my new management position and it was unquestionably the BEST thing I could have ever done. The tapes helped me to understand the importance of several tasks required of me to be a successful manager no matter what the line of business. I can trace all the good things that happened in my real estate sales/management career back to those tapes. Over the years I became a friend of Lee Shelton. He would often joke to his audiences that I had listened to the tapes so much I could give the presentation to them without notes. He was close to the truth. Therefore my advice to you and to anyone who would listen would be to:
READ & LISTEN!
It is impossible to read and/or listen enough or more than you thought you could. Read smf listen to everything but especially those books, tapes and articles that enable you to do whatever it is you do to do it better each and every day for the rest of your life! Shelton suggested that everyone should start by FIRST reading I’m Okay; You’re Okay written by Dr. Thomas A. Harris every six months until you fully understand it. That was the first book I had actually read since graduating high school in 1963. That is NOT something I am very proud of but given all the mundane and boring federal publications I had read every workday, I was just not interested in reading so I didn’t. Bad decision! I can honestly say that most of what I know today I learned AFTER the age of 42 and therefore NOT in schools; more importantly AFTER I read I’m Okay; You’re Okay! Since then, I have read well over 1200 books; I’m now 73. That averages over 35 books a year. I’m not telling you this to brag, I’m telling you this to emphasize that IF you want to be the BEST at whatever it is you do, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN ON ITS OWN VOLITION. YOU must create a SELF-EDUCATION PLAN because no one will do it for you no matter how good or well intentioned your employer may be.
After you become a constant reader, you will eventually be faced with an issue or a problem in your life or career as I have often been. Then suddenly I would recall something I had read or listened to yesterday or 35 years ago. Our brains never forget; mine certainly didn’t. We unconsciously forget things, I know, I always do. But when faced with that problem or issue, BINGO! There’s the answer or the place to get the answer that suddenly appears in your thoughts. Had you NOT read or listened to anything, this cannot and will not happen for you.
Here is a lesson from one of my favorite authors/speakers, Jeffrey Gitomer:
“To get everything you want in life, just help someone else get what they want – FIRST!”
As Gitomer points out, many, many people have said similar things over hundreds of years and just about everyone has taken credit for it. The difference between what Gitomer said and most if not all of the others is he added the one word FIRST to it. Therefore, if YOU become the best YOU can be, you can’t help but help others become the best THEY can be. Then YOU pay it forward and ask them to do the same!
How do you become the best you can be? Create your Self-Education Plan and then work your plan and let no one or anything stop you – PERIOD! “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” William H. Johnson.