help others

On the heels of Thanksgiving, I starting pondering what Thanksgiving was for our family, our life, and for me personally — and I have a confession: Sometimes I allow the little things to drive me crazy. I get really annoyed. My mind spins. I get upset, frustrated, and sometimes I even say things I don’t mean. I can lose sight of the things that are most important.

It’s true. I’m human, dangit.

You see, I am driven. I want the best for my family. I want to have a hugely successful business in breadth, size, and impact. And to be successful in other ways: by making a difference in communities, by building wealth to sustain my family for generations, and by teaching my children what hard work looks like — and what having fun as a family does, too.

And sometimes, I just let things get to me. This week was no exception in the “things that drive me crazy” category: more issues on a particular rental property, paying a little more for some unforeseen things on our flip project, issues with a closing, and an email over something really unpleasant to deal with. Yuck. These things make me so frustrated sometimes. I know how things are supposed to go… why can’t they just fall in line and work as they are supposed to?

I was reminded this week that some people aren’t kind. They are not willing to be real. They are willing to lie. Or, even at the extremes, they are evil. As humans, we are responsible for our own attitudes. Our own directions. And along the way, the people we surround ourselves with are those who have the greatest ability to impact us, our way of thinking, our actions — and in return, we have the greatest opportunity with those closest to us to make an impact on them.

With all that said, I still have an incredible life. I am not boasting, but rather observing. I have a lot… a lot to be thankful for. And even through sometimes things are unpleasant to deal with, I try my hardest to put it all back into perspective.

An Important Reminder

The other day, I was reading through a Time Magazine article about the Ebola epidemic and outbreak and the devastating impact it is having on thousands of people abroad. I distinctly remember a picture of a mother looking down at her deceased daughter and two aid workers wearing these astronaut-meets-doctor suits, trying to use extreme caution and safety while removing this child’s body. It presented real mortal danger to themselves and others, but I can only imagine them trying to also keep as much dignity for this child and her family as possible.

Related: Why I Am Thankful For Real Estate Investing

Can you even imagine? Truthfully, I don’t want to.

Through many years of church ministry, youth events and trips, I have had the privilege to travel abroad for mission projects in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Costa Rica, as well as many projects in the United States. Some involved building wells; some focused on helping build schools, or driveways, or sidewalks. But they were all centered on helping others.

And you know what always happens?

We go to help others, and instead we receive more than what we feel we have given.

The people we are there to help are always so kind, so compassionate, so thankful. We are humbled as humans. These people we are “helping” know we spent our own money to come. But through that process of working side by side with others, we are more aware of ourselves — and we are more aware of how good things really are.

My Story of Gratitude

There was a particular time I was in Costa Rica, and we walked up this massive, winding, dirt road to reach the “soccer field” where the kids wanted to play a game of soccer. Nearly everyone in our party was so exhausted by the time they got to the top of the hill, it turned out that I was one of only a few able to play. The homes we walked past along the way, mingled in between the exotic jungle landscape, were small huts about 10 ft by 10 ft, made of metal.

That’s where they lived.

The water was supposedly contaminated, harmful and could make us ill, and we were explicitly told not to drink it.

These kids were so excited to play, unaware of any of my preconceived notions of where they lived, or the size of their homes, or the clothes they wore. These children were so excited to be around others. So thankful for the attention and love. And you know what? I still remember vividly playing soccer with them to this day. I also remember you couldn’t kick the ball too hard or you were highly unlikely to retrieve it past this insanely steep hill just past the edge of the soccer field.

What really is gratitude? It was knowing when I arrived back home, I had food to eat and clean water to drink. A bed to sleep in. I was not concerned about gangs trying to harm my wife or children outside the walls of my home. Thinking again of the outbreak of Ebola — although we did have an outbreak here in the United States, we don’t have to deal with thousands dying from this horrible disease spreading through villages and towns in Africa, decimating cities that have little or no medical and governmental infrastructure to handle its growing problems.

And friends: we have a lot, who give us an insane amount of things to be grateful for.

I want to encourage you to take the time this week to do something: to give thanks for what you have, whatever that may be.

Whether you are literally working two jobs, feeling the sting of not quite getting your first real estate deal under your belt, or perhaps you are just getting into real estate full time, doing more and more deals… or …read more