Last week, my family and I took a trip to Disneyland. This was our fourth trip in the last 4 years (thank you real estate), so we are a bid soiled. I tend to get busy with life, and one great thing about going on vacation is having the chance to read. I try to read books as much as I can, but that is not nearly as often as I would like. Whenever I go on a trip, I stop in the airport bookstore and buy the first interesting book I find. Being an entrepreneur and real estate investor I try to read nonfiction books on business or mindset, but sometimes I learn more from fiction novels, and I tend to get into them more and then read even more. I learn about history, different places, amazing things people are capable of, and to focus on the big things in life, which all help my real estate business.
Which book did I read and how was it?
I read: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It won the Pulitzer Prize and was a fantastic yet serious read. It’s about two people on opposite sides of World War II: one growing up in France and one in Germany. I don’t want to give anything away, but it was extremely well written and educational. Learning about historic towns and how they survived or were destroyed was also extremely interesting.
The book makes you realize how extremely lucky we are to live where we do (assuming you live in the US) and when we do. Yes, terrorist threats exist, but we still live in one of the safest times in history. An estimated 60 million people died in WWII. Most people in Europe and many other parts of the world simply hoped to stay alive, let alone prosper. The book reminded me not to squander the opportunities we have or to feel sorry for ourselves when things don’t go exactly as planned. I was also motivated to pick up more Pulitzer Prize winning books.
How does reading help you become more successful?
I try to read educational books, but they can get a bit boring at times. I have a hard time finishing some books, which gives me less motivation to read. Reading offers so many benefits, especially in today’s world. It is so easy to get distracted with phones, social media, and television, but one of the best tools we can use to be successful is focus. Multitasking is not a good thing, and the more you can focus on one task or one idea, the better chance of success you will have. Books are a great way to focus, even if it is on something that is fictional. I also like to listen to audio books, but reading offers a huge benefit. The more time you can spend focusing on something, the more relaxed you will be and the clearer you will think. When I write articles, I focus better the longer I write without checking my phone or completing other tasks. One advantage to reading novels over nonfiction books is they can be more interesting and more engrossing, which causes you to read and focus more. You do not have to learn a specific skill or work on your mindset to benefit from fiction. I often talk to people who only listen to audio books because they have no time to read, but taking some time to read may be worth it.
Fiction novels can also be extremely educational. When you read a New York Times best seller or a Pulitzer prize winner, you’re reading a book that required considerable research. The characters may not be real, but the setting often is. Usually, the author heavily researches the topic, and you can learn a ton. Novels are often about extraordinary people or events, which can also be extremely motivating. They motivate you to create your own extraordinary events or a life that someone else would want to read about. These books also give you hope that if someone else succeeded when there was no hope, so can I, especially when I have so many more advantages.
What is important in your life?
Remembering what really matters is one of the toughest things we do. We get caught up arguing about stupid things or get stuck completing busy work all day long. Books can cover very interesting or important subjects. Characters are often forced to go above and beyond what they believe they are capable of. They forget about petty disagreements; they forget about drama on Facebook; they forget long-ago disputes with friends or family members. They focus on what they have to do right now to survive, to succeed, or to get through a very serious situation. Petty situations sidetrack all of us. Here are a few examples:
- Arguing about politics, religion, or other matters. It is hard to change someone’s mind in these areas. And in many cases, people argue with complete strangers who they will never meet or care about. If you are a pro at arguing politics on Facebook, you may actually be driving business away from you. Remember that 50 percent of the population may not agree with you, and if you are constantly posting how dumb that 50 percent is, they will probably choose to stop seeing your posts. If you have any type of business, you are most likely driving customers away.
- Getting mad at people when driving for making minor intrusions into your life. The other day someone, was killed in a road rage incident in my town. Someone cut off another driver, they started arguing, and a guy shot another guy. I have cut people off before on accident; I have not used my blinker when I should have; I have done things I am not supposed to do when driving. We all have done things that may annoy others when driving, and usually it is on accident. So why do people get so mad? It is almost like they are looking to be mad at something. If someone wrongs you when driving, it may cost you a couple of seconds of time. Don’t let it ruin your day or your life.
- Holding grudges against people. Often, we cannot even remember why we are mad at someone, but we know we are mad. If someone wronged us, we are going to let them know about it by not talking to them! Grudges can ruin families, friendships, jobs, and much more. I get mad at people and have held grudges. Eventually I get over it and realize how minor the issue was or that the other person felt really bad about it but was too embarrassed to apologize. Talking through issues can often make relations much better and remove a lot of stress. Then there are people whom you simply cannot get along with. In those cases, I remove them from my lives as best I can.
- Getting mad at events you cannot control, like sports. I love sports, especially the Denver Broncos. When I was a kid, I used to cry when they lost. When I became more successful in life, I realized how much an event I had no control over was affecting my life. If the Broncos won, I was in a decent mood. After all, they are supposed to win every game. If the Broncos lost, I would be pissed off all day and sometimes longer. There are 32 football teams, and many fans will only truly be happy if their team wins the Super Bowl. That means you have a 3 percent chance of winning it all based only on the number of teams. Those are not good odds on which to base your happiness. Now I enjoy watching the games, but I do my best not to let it affect my mood. If the Broncos are having a bad day, I will do something else and not even watch.
- Caring too much about what people think of you. We worry too much about what strangers think of us. People buy cars, houses, watches, clothes, all based on what others think, not what they like. A huge hurdle I overcame was letting my true wants and desires out. I like cars. I like expensive, fancy cars. I like big fancy houses. In today’s society, frugality is preached more than going after what you really want. I always told myself I did not want those things because I did not think I could ever afford them, and I was worried about what others would think. When I stopped worrying about what others think, I became much more successful and much happier.
- Getting caught up in a victim mentality. There is this idea that if you are wronged in some way, it is a great excuse for not living up to your full potential. We are all victims; we all have bad things happen to us, some worse than others. How you handle those bad things is what defines a person, not the bad things that happen. The most successful people have bad things happen all the time, but they do not use them as excuses. They use them as motivation or as a learning tool.
There are many more instances where we let little minor things wreck our day, our week, our year, or even our lives. When someone gets sick, passes away, or another major life event happens, we realize what really matters in life. The tricky part is realizing what really matters all the time, not just in a crisis. I think that really good books help us do that…if we pay attention to them.
When you read a book, you find all kinds of informational tidbits that you never thought of. What would happen to my rentals if we got into a war and they were destroyed? Does insurance cover that? Many of us are worried about terrorist attacks, but the chances of dying in a car accident are thousands of percent higher. People are worried about refugees coming to the US, when those refugees had their entire lives destroyed by war. Think about what is really important in your life and what you are spending your time on, and make sure you have time to read.
Of course if you want to read non-fiction books and learn about real estate, I have a number of great books available: