People in the real estate business talk a lot about the strength of leverage. Essentially, it method investing a limited amount of personal cash to geometrically increase net worth by appreciation. Let’s say you buy a piece of rental character for $300,000 with a down payment of 20%. You laid out $60,000. The rental on the character covers your monthly mortgage and all of the expenses to continue the character, so the investment is cash-flow neutral (for simplicity sake).
In seven years, you anticipate selling the character for $600,000. After you pay off the mortgage, you get a return of $360,000 on your original investment of $60,000. Six times your down payment in seven years. Not bad, if a bit ambitious!
If this was totally new information for you, you’re probably reading the wrong newsletter. I do have two bigger points: First, leverage has strength in every area of life. Second, the failure to adventure leverage will rule you to an unsatisfying life.
Let me explain.
My “bigger” definition of leverage: Employing time, talent and money to create a disproportionately high level of value. Let’s take a look at a business example. Years ago John (a client) owned one car dealership. His personal annual income and net worth ($500,000 and $3.5 million, respectively) were enviable for a guy in his early 40s. John was not, however, a happy camper. He had not taken a vacation of longer than three days in six years. His relationship with his family was tenuous at best. He was also an anal, detail monger in the office. Although he professed that he trusted his people to do their jobs well, his demeanor portrayed something else. He submerged himself in almost every decision – already those for which he had no background or skill – not because he additional value, but because he could. The length of his work week, typically 75 to 80 hours, was a source of pride to him. John was also 50 lbs. overweight and experiencing from high blood pressure because according to him, he was forced to eat on the run and had no time for a fitness regime.
Let’s review the bidding here. We have a financially successful guy with an unrewarding, unhealthy, unbalanced, obsessive/compulsive life. Would you want that for yourself?
Four years later, here’s the picture: John has an income and net worth of $1.5 million and $12 million, respectively. Last year, he took off 180 days (that’s not a typo)! He has a hyper-qualified (and highly paid) president now running the business. John is working about 40 hours a week. His time in the office is now consumed in two areas – the performance and development of people and prospecting for acquisitions. His family life is much improved, and he has lost the 50 lbs. with a regular routine of running, lifting weights, yoga and meditation. His blood pressure has improved to 105/70.
The only difference in John is his leverage. He now dedicates his time and talent to activities that give him a disproportionately high payback for the resources he invests. That requires a complete understanding of his strengths and passions. Where they intersect, he wades in. Where they don’t, he steers clear.
Many business people become martyrs and then brag about it as if self-sacrifice for money is sexy! Tony Robbins says, “life rewards action.” That’s an incomplete assertion. Life really rewards applicable action. In order to be applicable, action has to produce the results you intend. Otherwise, it’s just MOVEMENT. applicable action must also create leverage. Otherwise, personal and specialized growth and success are not possible.
A second prerequisite for success is “discipline.” That information has gotten a bad rap because many people infer that it method stiff and austere. Discipline really method the ability and inclination to delay gratification. In his book The Road Less Traveled (simply the best personal development book ever written), Dr. Scott Peck said the following: “Delaying gratification is a course of action of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.” He goes on: “This tool or course of action of scheduling is learned by most children quite early in life, sometimes as early as age five.” Later he says: “By the age of twelve, some children are already able to sit down without any parental prompting and complete their homework before they watch television. By the age of fifteen or sixteen, such behavior is expected of the adolescent and is considered normal.”
Discipline is learned early. If you want your kids to rule disciplined (NOT austere and stiff) lives, make sure they do their homework first.
In practice, here’s what disciplined adults do: They do WHAT needs to be done, WHEN it needs to be done, THE WAY it needs to be done – EVERY TIME! Discipline, in practice, method delivering on commitments consistently, and success requires both leverage and discipline.
How do you measure up in these two areas? If your answer is “not well,” then dedicate yourself to improvement. The difference in your success and happiness will be substantial.