Thomas Edison is acknowledged to be the inventor of the light bulb. The truth is that there were about a dozen or more scientists who invented various versions of the light bulb before him. Edison was a brilliant and clever fellow, but his real genius was to pull together all the fundamentals that had been developed previously and come up with a good light bulb that could function the most reliably and be mass produced for the time.
His genius further included the ability to secure financing for the entire project and, critically, file all the documents and papers necessary to secure the patents and legal protection for his light bulb.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t what Edison invented, it was how he carried it through that counted.
When I was a kid, I went to a public school in Scarborough that had the motto, “How you play the game”. I remember thinking at the time we should have a motto like “Champions of the world” or “Number one school in all of Scarborough”, not something timid like “How you play the game”. That motto was meant to make us understand that the way we treated our fellow competitors was more important than winning. I know now it was brilliant.
When I look back on the school and subsequent work experiences I have been through, I wish that more adults would have conducted themselves with that spirit. I think maybe I should have been more conscious of that as well. We should know in our hearts that if we gain success honestly without cheating or manipulating, we will enjoy the greatest feeling of achievement. But it seems we have lost the idea that how we achieve success is more important than just success.
One of the greatest players in the history of baseball, Cy Young, won more games than any other pitcher in the history of the game. What is not so well known is that he also lost the most games of any other pitcher in the history of the game. All his winning games came about because he was a good pitcher and he pitched for so many years. But what made Cy Young stand out the most was that he was a true gentleman who worked hard at his craft and went about it honestly. Turns out it wasn’t about how many games he won. It was how he played the game. That’s why he is so revered.
For the past 30-odd years that I have spent in the real estate industry, I have frequently heard people talk about how overly competitive things are in this business, but I can tell you one thing for certain: selling real estate is no more and no less competitive than any other business or profession. If you consider successful real estate agents today, those who are the most successful do the work with consideration, not competition, for others. They do not rush the paperwork but rather make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, show up every day and most importantly do this job sincerely with empathy for each and every customer. It is not what you do in this business. It is how you do it.
When it’s all said and done, the people you will remember the most in any business and any relationship in your life will be in the following order: No. 1, unfortunately, will be the most difficult and hurtful people you ever dealt with and No. 2 will be the most pleasant people you have ever dealt with. It is the No. 2 people who will mean the most to you throughout your life, and it is the No. 1 people who you will wish to never meet again. As for the supposedly most successful people you ever met or did business with…you won’t remember them. They won’t even cross your mind. It won’t matter what they achieved, just like it won’t matter what you achieved. It will be how you achieved it that will be most important.
If anyone thinks my take on what to do in the year ahead might be of value, I would say don’t worry about becoming successful. Just show up every day and always do the right thing. If you do that, you will achieve what everyone wants to be. A winner!
I wish you every success in the New Year.