Commercial Magazine

Design Your Own Future

Marshal your time, resources and talent to bring change to your business

By Garry Barnes

For many of us, the COVID-19 crisis turned our world upside down in only a few days. Many commercial mortgage brokers are asking, “Now what? Where do I go from here?” The coming months could define you as an individual and as a businessperson.

You have little choice but to accept change. Nonetheless, change is hard for most of us to accept immediately and it is difficult to envision. After a shock, we tend to go through what is known as the three D’s of an attitude adjustment: denial, delay and defensiveness.

First comes denial: “It might be happening to others, but my company is different, right?” Your next natural response is delay: “Yes, things are changing, but don’t panic. Let things settle down a bit.” Finally, there is defensiveness: “This is not our fault; we did not cause this situation. We will do what we have always done. Just push harder. We will be OK.”

Once you push through these attitudes and accept that change is necessary, you must think about the end game. Generally, success does not come easily nor suddenly. It will seem elusive and frequently just around the next bend. How is success most accurately defined? Frankly, there is no single all-encompassing definition of success that everyone will agree with. Yet we somehow know when we have been successful at a task or project. We can just feel it.

Although success is hard to define, you can take steps that lead you closer to your goals, regardless of the endeavor. A combination of influences or forces often determine the outcome of our efforts. Although some of these factors are outside of our control, the forces within our control arguably have a more meaningful impact on our desired results. What can be called the three T’s of success — time, treasure and talent — are forces within your control. By managing these areas effectively, you can become the designer of your own future.

Time, treasure, talent

Time is arguably the single most important asset for commercial mortgage brokers. Time is limited, however, so you need to make the best use of it. The question is, how? 

First, establish a clearly defined objective. In his bestselling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R. Covey wrote, “Begin with the end in mind.” If you do not identify goals in life, then it probably doesn’t matter how much time is invested on an endeavor. The results aren’t likely to be satisfying. 

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Your next step is to estimate the amount of time that will be necessary to accomplish your goal. This may not be easy. The key is to creatively think through the process, identifying all of the issues and obstacles as well as each of the time-consuming steps necessary to complete the objective. 

Generally, it is more productive to give yourself nine months to complete a project and finish in six than to allow six months and later find it will require nine months to complete. Before you launch into a task, you should ask yourself whether there are better uses of your time, then determine whether your timeline for completing this goal is realistic.

Your treasure is your personal financial resources or available capital. Most projects require some level of financial commitment. This can include taking an equity position in a project; investing money in newspaper ads, brochures, signs and technology; or travel expenses.

Once you establish the objective, you have to figure out how much you are willing to spend on this effort. Several factors will affect the cost. You have to ask yourself whether your goal is worth the money. Is the potential yield worth the level of risk associated with the project? Do you have better investment alternatives?

These questions need to be settled prior to launching into a new project and spending your treasure and time.

Talent, the last of these three pillars of success, refers to your skill set. Some people have strong accounting skills while others may have a natural sales ability, or perhaps the innate ability to recognize an opportunity. As previously mentioned, it is critically important to decide whether the project is worth your commitment and whether it can be accomplished, given your available resources and talent.

One factor in the decision to move forward is what skills you bring to the table. Do your skills and interests match what you are trying to achieve? It might be best to pass on the current project and look for the next deal. To answer this question, you need to evaluate your own talents. Generally speaking, it is wiser to pursue projects that are a good match with your skills and interests.

Generally, success does not come easily nor suddenly. It will seem elusive and frequently just around the next bend.

Dealing with setbacks

For many of us, our lives are full of ups and downs. Just when we think we are on the right course, roadblocks appear that force us to chart a different course. Naturally, this will cause a certain degree of self-doubt about our abilities and future success. Although this may be difficult to admit, we sometimes unknowingly create roadblocks through actions or decisions made weeks or months ago. We often do not realize the negative consequences of our actions.

Once we have identified a problem, however, it may not be that difficult to fix. Many times, we will only accept complex solutions to life’s problems. Oftentimes, however, the solution can be found right in front of us. Sometimes we overlook the obvious, overanalyze to the point of giving up and accept defeat as the only solution.

There’s no doubt that life’s answers can be evasive at times. It is not likely that many of us will ever experience the storybook life that we perceive certain business icons to live. In fact, if we were to have a few minutes to visit privately with these individuals, we might be surprised to hear of their struggles, failures and the frustrating times they went through on their road to success.

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In summation, it is highly important that you ask yourself a simple question: Do you have a defined strategy to achieve greater success in your career and personal life? This will be key to developing greater financial security for you and your family. Most of us will instantly, without hesitation, answer “yes” to that question. But can you recite this strategy in 30 seconds? If so, well done. •


  • Garry Barnes

    Garry Barnes is managing director of PW Partners Consultancy, headquartered in Salt Lake City, and is a freelance writer. He is a former president and CEO of banks in Arizona, California and Utah. He has taught at the university level, and is a frequent writer and lecturer on banking, finance and real estate matters. Barnes has served on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council and received the SBA Arizona Financial Services Advocate of the Year award.

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