“The best way to predict your future is to create it” ~unk
Today we talk mindset. If you have heard any of my podcast appearances when I am asked about my mentor I tell the story of how my mentor gave me and education in Multifamily but even more then that he gave me a gift that would change me for ever. Through that gift I have been able to buy Multifamily properties, enter into partnerships, create and expand businesses and create additional streams of income. Through that gift I was able to fight my way through the political and economic chaos of Covid and come out stronger on the other side.
That gift is Mindset.
Today I will share with you some things I have learned along the way. Some strategies I use to build, maintain a strong mindset. A strong mindset will help you persevere when the challenges come and help you think out side the box. So let’s get to it.
Are you feeling stuck in your journey?
Whether you haven’t found your first property or you are looking to climb to the next level and build addition streams of income, we all become stuck at some point. We all face challenges that at first seem insurmountable.
One of the first challenges I faced was on the court. I was always the “weak” short basketball player. I had no outside shot and I wasn’t aggressive enough under the hoop. Until, I was. I spent an entire day just shooting from the outside. I started intentionally playing one on one with opponents that were bigger and better than I was. I got my reps in, and then one day, I became one of the first picked instead of one of the last.
It happened again during high school. I entered the drafting shop. The classroom was like nothing I had seen before. Stools for chairs, desks almost as tall as I was and slanted. Tools of the trade; triangles, pencils, film, paper, ink, air brushes, T-squares- were all scattered about. I felt like I had just walked into another dimension. As a freshman, I would look over to the seniors and see how detailed their drawings were, how they used ink instead of pencil, how all of their perspectives were spot on, and I was in awe. I can still remember one of my first thoughts, “How am I ever going to be that good?”
There have been many more times just like these throughout my life. Now, each time I face an “insurmountable” challenge, I would think back to those times. They remind me that everything seems insurmountable, until it doesn’t.
In the coming paragraphs we will discuss mindset and how it can help you in your journey as it has helped me in mine. I will be offering you some strategies that I have used to get unstuck. I will offer up secret weapons you can keep at the ready to deploy at a moments notice.
We will be discussing:
Interrupting our thoughts
The power of choice.
So how do we get unstuck? How do we begin to play at a higher level? How do we create breakthroughs and have Ah-Ha moments. I believe it is through building a strong foundation. Just like a strong foundation will support a skyscraper, so too will a strong mindset support you when you are in challenging times.
Let’s travel back to the first time I was exposed to mindset. It was a day that would ever change my life. It was a day that led me to identifying numerous opportunities. It was a day, unbeknownst to me at the time, that would completely change the trajectory of the Schoepp Family line.
July 17, 2018
It was the perfect summer day. Warm but not hot. The sun was shining bright on a beautiful light blue sky as I approached the restaurant Catch 27, and I was a bit nervous. I’ve never sat down and had lunch with a high level individual. I was still mystified that he accepted my offer of meeting for lunch. Back then I was a W2 employee with a very limited mindset. In fact, I was deep in the scarcity mindset. Wondering why everyone else was finding deals and I didn’t even have a market picked out. I was constantly judging myself against others, and even worse, I was judging others. As we exchange pleasantries outside the entrance we quickly were seated and order our meals. It was during this time I was asking a seemingly routine question but one that planted the seed of growth, and like Jack’s beanstalk, that seed just keeps on growing. He motioned to my phone that was laying on the table, and then he asked, “If I said to you don’t lay your phone there, how would you take it? Some may be upset and think I am rude.” He then went on to explain, “But I was saying it because I was concerned that the glass off water may spill on it”. Life is about perceptions. It’s in how we handle our perceptions that allows us to be open to many different opportunities. We finished our lunch, continued the conversation, and soon parted ways, but before doing so, Gino gave me some “homework”. He suggested I read Energy Leadership by Bruce Schneider. It was the start of a whole new education. An education that was about to lead to freedom.
Energy leadership exposed me to the concept that I could elevate who I am. That through the thoughts I have and the perceptions that those thoughts produce I could choose the path my life takes. Let’s look at a quick example. I was once parked in a mall parking lot when someone backed into me. There are many ways that I could REACT using catabolic energy. The two most prevailing ways are: I could start thinking to myself, “Geez if not for bad luck I would have no luck” or “Why do things always happen to me” or maybe the ‘ol “I’m such a loser. I knew something bad was going to happen today; it always does.” Now maybe you would have reacted much the way I did: “What the hell! You couldn’t see me parked here. Where the hell did you get your license from a cracker jack box?!?” I’m a New Yorker, and back then it didn’t take much to get my hands going and flying to accentuate the screaming I was doing. Catabolic energy is draining and derails us. What if we could operate using a higher energy? An energy that helps us. The next couple of ways we can deal with this scenario start to turn the tables. They introduce us to anabolic energy. Anabolic energy lifts us up. We begin to RESPOND to the same situation. I could take responsibility for the part I play. I may not have caused the accident, but I sure did choose to go to the mall on that day at that time. Out of the hundreds of parking spaces I chose that spot to park in. Jeff Olson, in his book The Slight Edge, sums it up nicely. He states “When you take and retain full responsibility—even when others are wrong or the situation is genuinely unfair—-you keep your life’s reins in your own hands.” Taking responsibility is liberating! Another excellent way of responding is I could jump out of my car, go over to the other driver, and inquire if they are okay, leading with, “Are you okay? How can I help?” if they were injured or needed any medical care at all I could immediately summon for help.
Think about the first two reactions, then compare them to the second two responses. Which will have you feeling better? Which will allow your blood pressure not to raise too high? Which one will elevate your life, cause you less stress and allow you to remain focused? You may not be able to control what happens, but you sure can control how you respond to it.
Building a Strong Mindset
Awareness and Autopilot
So how does one build a strong mindset? What are some actionable steps you can take in order to become more resilient, more persistent, and more successful?
Let’s talk a bit about awareness. A study out of Harvard showed that 47% of our day is spent in auto pilot. Don’t believe me? Have you ever drove down the highway, passed 3 exits, and asked, “How did that happen?” Or may you left work and never remember exiting the highway or turning on to your road but all of a sudden you are pulling into your driveway. The next time you walk into your dark bedroom and turn the light on without thinking “It’s dark, I need to turn the light on,” that’s auto pilot.
Think back to when you first started to drive. You moved slowly. You identified the brake, the accelerator, turn signals, mirrors. You adjusted the seat until it was just right, you looked for the seat belt and then put it on. You accelerated slowly, you were constantly scanning. You were in full awareness. If you were anything like my teenagers, you felted overwhelmed by the amount of things you had to pay attention to: other drivers, pedestrians, speed, walls, curbs, pavement markings, road signs, signals, turn signals, headlights, high beams, animals- I’m getting confused just writing all of this. Now fast forward to today. All of those things that stressed you out as a new young driver are second nature. Lane changing takes just a glance. You accelerate while looking in the mirror while entering onto a highway. You have entered into autopilot.
Autopilot is also code for comfort. Which is exactly how our mind likes to operate- from comfort. So it’s our job to interrupt that comfort when it’s not serving us.
One last point on autopilot: autopilot can be both good and bad. Autopilot was designed by our minds to help keep it from overload. Could you imagine how bogged down we would get if every single time we walked into a dark room we had to think:
I can’t see.
What do I need to see?
I need light.
Where is the light?
Where is the light switch?
How do I turn the switch on?
I have light; I can see.
Wait what did I come in here for in the first place?
Autopilot allows us to go from dark to light and skip all of that stuff in the middle, thus freeing up operating space to process additional information.
Now each time I sit and watch endless hours of my favorite sitcom without realizing where the time went, that’s also autopilot, and not the good kind. Another example for me is potato chips- I will start with one, then half the bag is gone, and I have no recollection to having eaten them. We have to interrupt these moments and weed them out so that we free up operational space for those items that will move us forward. We can do just that through awareness.
Slow is smooth, smooth is fast
The first step of awareness is slowing down.
When I first started to study martial arts, I, like all new students, would rush through the techniques. I so wanted to emulate the higher level guys and do things like them. Being an impatient person, I believed the faster I moved, the better I would be, because they move REALLY fast. Then one day, someone said something to me that would stick with me forever- “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” He told me to slow down, that the best guys aren’t moving all that fast. He explained to me, “You don’t need to be fast, you need to be smooth. Build muscle memory. Get your reps in, build the memory, and that memory will lead to smoothness. That smoothness will lead to the appearance of being fast.” I first had to slow down to become aware of where and how to position myself and the rest would fall into place.
Shisa Kanko means point and call. It is a technique used in the Japanese rail system, and it has reduced mistakes by nearly 85%. They point at a red signal and say aloud, “Red Signal Stop,” or point at the speedometer and say “Speed 50km.” It allows them to slow just a bit so that they can process the information from awareness and not from auto pilot. They interrupted the mind’s cycle, which allows them to actually process the information from the prefrontal cortex and make a conscious decision, not an automatic one.
By practicing this on a regular basis, you train your mind to see things that you may normally miss in autopilot. Just slow down during the day and really take it all in- the wind rustling, the leaves falling, the birds flying from tree to tree.
We are all emotional beings that have thoughts that lead to decisions. We think we make rational, well thought out decisions, but each of the decisions we make are first created from emotions. We then kick it up to our logical mind. Our logical mind then finds reasons to confirm our emotional decision. We make decisions based on emotion, we just think it’s based on logic.
Awareness helps us in identifying how we feel in certain moments, what’s working for you and what is not. A lot of our blocks come from beliefs that were given to us from our parents when we were children. Those beliefs create a reality for us and as we grow and push against those beliefs our minds don’t like that. Our minds want to keep us safe. They don’t like the unknown, so our minds push back. This then manifests itself as a block.
These blocks can appear in many ways. Procrastination, distraction, pessimism are just a few. As you identify when these are playing out in life, slow down, become more aware and more intentional. Drill down on how you are feeling, what emotions are flowing, and where those emotions are coming from.
Disrupting the Pattern:
As you identify theses blockages, you may be wondering how to get pass them. Like a running back snaking his way through the defensive line on the football field, so too can you juke out these blocks.
I am constantly asking myself:
“Is this the best use of my time?”
“Is this action an action getting me closer to my end goal?”
“What should I be doing, and in doing so, makes everything else fall into place?”
“What am I avoiding?”
“How do I feel?”
“What is causing that feeling to manifest itself at this moment?”
If the blockage has to do with a fear of making a mistake or of failure, I remind myself that failure is just feedback. All to often when one fails they begin to use the noun instead of the verb. They begin to identify failing with I am a failure, instead of I failed. Remember, our mind will manifest what we ask it to. When we tell our mind I am a failure, we are telling it to go out into the world and prove that. Fail feels definite. I failed! It’s over. I view failure as needs improvement. Some things worked, some things didn’t. Let’s tweak it and give it another shot.
Robert Lehey, PHD conducted a study at Cornell. He found that 85% of our worries never happen and of the 15% that do 79% of the respondents felt that they could handle the difficulty better then they expected and that the difficulty taught them a valuable lesson.
That translates to 97% of our worries are baseless and result from an unfounded pessimistic perception.
Something else that helps me disrupt the pattern is accountability reminders. For me, it’s a wristwatch and a post-it. The watch reminds me of my mom. The post-it has a capital A/J written on it to remind me of Allen and Joan, my father in law and my Mom, both of whom had cancer, and my family could have faced certain financial challenges. They both passed away rather quickly and those challenges never came to be but it sure did light a fire under me to build a financially secure life so that any such future challenges can be handled without worry. So now, I’ll be laying on the couch wasting time watching TV, feel or look at that watch, and it will slap me out of auto pilot and remind me that watching TV is not the best use of my time.
What story are you telling yourself
Another form of blocks manifest themselves in the thoughts we have.
Our minds have a very in depth memory, especially for those items it deems as dangerous. I recently spoke with someone who had a block that every time she got close to closing on a deal, she would find something wrong with it. The returns were never good enough. The deal would start out looking good, and the closer it came to pulling the trigger, the deal would fizzle out for one reason or another. As we drilled down on this we discovered she went through a really bad collapse in the market and her partners stole a bunch of cash from her, to the extent that it basically wrecked her and her family. The family held on but now every time she gets close her mind finds a reason not to do the deal. She is clearly reliving that time again and again and again. As we identified this we decided to start to re-write the story she told herself. She would pay close attention to how she was feeling. Each time she felt that resistance instead of replaying the old story we created a new one for her.
She is now working through it by focusing on what she learned from that experience that made her stronger, the perseverance it took, the grit she showed. She never looked at herself as strong, yet she made it through nearly losing her home and her family. Now, instead of focusing on how she narrowly escaped losing her family, she focuses on how she saved her family. She then started to envision herself as the strong individual she is. She started to focus on where she was going, not where she had been. She accepted the past and let it flow through her, not hold her back.
She now finds inspiration when her friends close deals instead of envy that they are and she is not.
When you find that you are doubting yourself, think of this thought recently shared with me by a friend of mine- “You have survived every difficult thing you have encountered.” Some things are messier than others, but you have survived them, and you will survive this [whatever you may be going through]
Are you paying attention to your thoughts?
The National Science Foundation did a study that revealed we have approximately 50,000 thoughts a day. Of those 50,000 thoughts, 80% are negative, and if that wasn’t scary enough, 95% are repetitive. That means just a mere 20% are positive. Imagine if we could increase that from twenty percent to thirty, forty, fifty or even 80 or 90 percent. How would that change your life? How would that help you and your family?
Paying attention to our self talk and our thoughts, then asking ourselves “Is this serving me?”, and when it’s not, making the choice to change that self talk will change how we view ourselves and will become a game changer for you.
I use a system I call the Three F’s:
What are you focusing on? Write down your self talk/thought.
What do you believe are the facts that support that focus?
When you think about what you are focusing on how, does that make you feel? What emotions come to the surface?
Next ask yourself, “Are these facts really true, or are they based on the past?” Are you making your decisions looking in the rear view mirror?
Now do the same for the feelings- “Are these feelings serving me?” Do they make you energized or not?
If the facts don’t add up, and the emotions don’t energize you, then what kind of story are you telling yourself, and more importantly, is that story serving you?
Change your story
Re-focus on something that IS energizing you and that IS serving you.
The quickest and easiest way of doing that is to change the tense of the verb- go from I can’t to I can; I’m not to I am. I can’t invest, I have no money becomes I can invest, I have money coming to me. I’m not an investor becomes I am an investor. This redirects the mind to pay attention to making that happen.
Next write down the facts that support that focus.
We all have the power to choose what we focus on. For where we focus we will go.
The Secret Superpower
“You don’t drown by falling into the water, You drown by staying there.” ~Steve Sims
One day as I was meeting with my mentor, strolling down a path in the park, green grass as far as you could see off to the right and trees off to the left. The morning was lit up with the sounds of birds chirping back and forth and a light warm southerly breeze blew upon us. We were discussing how life wasn’t fair and how I was a good person looking to do good in the world, but I wasn’t making any headway. My employees would quit, leaving me scrambling, or I would get a parent complaint or just plain life would get in the way. That’s when he stopped me right there in the middle of the path, led me to a park bench, and sat me down. He then went on to explain, “Do you think that Warren Buffet doesn’t have hand grenades going off all the time, or Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs? Life happens to everyone. The difference is how the decide to handle it.” Then he leaned into me, lowered his voice, and with a very determined look in his eyes he said the following: “They made the choice not to listen to the chaos, they made the choice to push through, to keep moving forward even when they got blind sided”
Later that day he left me with this thought. “Life doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us.”
Each day we are faced with decisions; through those decisions we create our reality.
Read that again and then a third time. Take a moment right now to slow down and let that sink in. We create our reality. We create it by the energy we display to the world, by the energy we bring to life, and by the choices we make. That energy, those choices, they attract a certain type of person to you. Opportunities begin to reveal themselves, and then you have more choices to make. Through our focus and through our choices we have the superpower of creating our reality. The question is, what type of reality will you choose to create?
When you fall in the water, are you going to choose to stay there, or will you choose to get out?
My Challenge to you
We spoke about awareness, emotions, our thought process, but none of it is any good unless you take action on what you have learned. You have an opportunity in front of you, it’s up to you to decide on how you execute on it.
What is the one thing you can do in the next 10 minutes that will help move you forward?
What is the one thing that you can do in the next 24 hours to help you move forward?
Now go do it!