Some questions can just be downright irritating? The title of this article is one of those questions that has irritated and frustrated me for years. Why, because I never liked my answer(s). For the longest time, it seemed as though the harder I worked, the more weary than wealthy I became. All the while, I was putting on a good face “fighting the good fight.” Beneath the surface, I was one frustrated guy. Sadly, many in our industry are where I was at for years. At the end of this article, I will provide you three quick and easy action steps that will, if acted upon, end weariness and get you positioned for increasing wealth.
Let me first start off by saying that I believe that those of us in the mortgage industry should be some of the happiest and most fulfilled professionals on the planet. Why you may ask … because we are financing the American dream of homeownership. Buying a home for most people is the biggest transaction of their lives. While the American dream for many became the American nightmare, it doesn't negate the fact that owning an affordable home with common sense financing can be one of most rewarding transactions of our lives. Owning a home can bring stability to families in a way that few things can. Consumers need us more than ever because a home they cannot afford is a surefire recipe for disaster both from a family perspective, as well as a financial perspective. The idea of buying that bigger and more expensive house that was going to make them happier has collided with the reality of foreclosure and has resulted in disillusionment. Many who have lost their home to foreclosure have wished for the “good old days” when they owned that smaller house with a smaller mortgage payment. As the saying goes, “Life is not always greener on the other side of the fence or on the other side of the tracks.” Americans are getting a harsh lesson in what real wealth is all about and what is to be valued … but that is another topic for another day.
So, if you find yourself more weary than wealthy, this article is for you. What I want for each of you reading this article is to become rewarded and wealthy while having a lifestyle that is fulfilling instead of filled with tiredness and weariness. That's one of my passions in life, to help people become successful … I mean truly successful.
There are many definitions and meanings of the word “successful,” but I would suggest you consider this one. A successful person is someone who is enjoying life to the max … someone who loves what they do and has a deep sense of accomplishment that they are making a difference in the lives of others. This is someone who is able to do what they want, when they want and in the style in which they want to do it. Does that describe you? If not, keep reading.
Success is not, as some have jokingly defined, as “He who dies with the most toys wins.” While I may not agree with all that the German philosopher Eric Fromm wrote, he sure got it right when he said: “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.”
I have come to learn that true success is more about being “fulfilled” than being “filled-full” of “things.” And don’t make the mistake of getting stuck in the ditch on the other side of the road by saying, “Having things is a bad thing.” Monasteries are populated by people who have that attitude. I like the saying, “I've been rich and I've been poor … it is better to be rich.” Where is the balance? I am going to ask you to consider that it is not about being rich or poor. It’s about being fulfilled! It’s about focusing on helping others achieve their goals and not focusing on selfish gains. We all probably know people who are wealthy and miserable. Why do so many who have so much take their own lives? I look for examples of those who are that are happy, fulfilled and wealthy. When I find them, I see one common denominator— they all put others’ interests ahead of their own.
I love stories like the one of John D. Rockefeller Sr. who, at the turn of the last century, was considered the wealthiest person in the world. He started his professional life as a poor young man in an office with little formal education. By the time he retired, he had amassed a fortune close to $1.5 billion … quite an accomplished back in the early 1900s. After he retired, he experienced some serious health issues and was told that he did not have long to live. As he laid there on what he thought was going to be his deathbed in the hospital, he started contemplating all that he had accomplished and the legacy that he would be leaving. He realized that he would be remembered as the greatest “getter” of wealth, but not the greatest “giver” of wealth. He thought, “What a horrible legacy to leave behind!” It was at that moment, he made a life-changing decision. He discovered a reason to live longer. He wanted to redefine his legacy and be known more for his “giving” than his “getting.” If I understand his story correctly, he got out of his hospital bed and walked to one of the busier streets in New York City and started putting coins down on the centerline of the road. You can only imagine how crazy that looked. Here's the wealthiest man in the world in hospital clothes bending over laying down money on the center line of a busy street. Certainly everyone thought the old man had lost his mind, but something unexpected happened. As he walked along the center line of the street laying down money, he started getting excited. He got a new vision for life and was healed of that “terminal” disease. His legacy was transformed from being the biggest “getter” to the biggest “giver,” and he went on to live for a number of more years but he said that his later years of giving were so much more fulfilling than the many years he spent “getting.”
As a consultant to the mortgage industry, I routinely get a phone calls from executives who have been successful, but now are weary and worn out. They want out! They want our firm to sell their business. Many times I wondered how someone who is so successful can be so miserable. I often discover that they have lost their joy of doing what they're doing and have long since lost sight of why they got in the business in the first place. The dream of owning a business has become a nightmare. The business now owns them instead of them owning the business.
When I get a call from someone who wants to sell their company, I immediately start probing as to why they want to sell, especially when I see such a HUGE opportunity on the horizon for mortgage company business owners. I ask questions like, “What drew you to the mortgage industry?” “What is it that you loved about it, and what is it now that you hate about it?” “What was the original motivation for you starting the business that you now want to sell?” “When was the last time you enjoyed doing what you're doing?”
There is no question that today's business environment is more challenging than ever and the risks are certainly greater, but so are the rewards! If someone will work with me and let me get the joy/fulfillment back into their lives, they often will end up wanting to keep the business and not sell! They realize they really didn't want to sell. They just wanted to have a new reason for living. The more they start helping others achieve their objectives, the more energized and excited they become about being in business. This is also true of many mortgage professionals whether or not they are business owners. Francis Bacon, the 17th century English philosopher, nailed it when he said, “Money is a great servant, but a bad master.”
So here are three basic things that, if acted upon, will give you more energy, eradicate any weariness you may be feeling, bring you true fulfillment, and along the way, will increase your wealth:
1. Remember why you got into the business: Another way to say it is rediscover your passion for the business.
2. Find ways to focus on others needs rather than your own: In other words, help others get what they want rather than what you want by making your career about helping others get into the right home with the right financing.
3. Give back to the industry and to your community: There’s a million ways in which you can do this and make a huge difference in the lives of others. Giving should be 10 percent about giving money and 90 percent about giving of yourself!
If you do these three things, it will positively impact your life, your career and your bank account!
I always love reading e-mails giving me feedback about what I have written. It is a way that you can start giving back now. Do it … I ‘d love to hear from you!
David Lykken is president of mortgage strategies and managing partner with Mortgage Banking Solutions. He has more than 35 years of industry experience and has garnered a national reputation, and has become a frequent guest on FOX Business News with Neil Cavuto, Stuart Varney, Liz Claman and Dave Asman with additional guest appearances on the CBS Evening News, Bloomberg TV and radio. He may be reached by phone at (512) 977-9900, ext. 10, or e-mail [email protected]
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