The Two Biggest Keys to Growth? Perspective and People.

August 13, 2019

Last week, I had a lunch meeting with an old high-school friend, Phillip, whom I haven’t talked with for years. In the shade of the Jaws sushi overhang, we had miso soup and talked about our life trajectories — where we both are, and how we’ve been going in our directions.

His start-up real-estate brokerage has grown from six to sixty people. He’s still buying and selling property. And, on his 38th birthday next January, he and his wife are going to declare themselves financially independent, and start working on passion projects. (And they also figured in the finances of hopefully having a child.)

Phillip never went to college. When our graduating high-school class of 2000 applied for universities, he did not. Instead, he put his head down, learning real estate. And he’s been working hard, for nineteen years now.

I, on the other hand, have gone to college. A lot. From the time I was 19 to 32, more or less, getting a bachelors in philosophy and two masters degrees (in Philosophy and Religious Studies and the second in English Education.)

While I may not be retiring next year, I have grown deeper into my happiness, as Phillip has. And I’m feeling good about my decision to “work” less in my working years — to prioritize time over money, to make time for writing, music, and conversation.

As a teacher and musician, then, I won’t be financially independent until …..

That’s one of the reasons I’m talking to Philip.

I started asking about real estate, what we might do with our savings, and I our conversation turns to some of the trickier, more advanced, non-conventional ways to acquire property : seller-carried mortgages, wrap-arounds (I thought he said reach-arounds), and other acrobatic (and risky) financing.

He details how he makes phone calls to learn what other people are hoping to get out of the deal. Determining if you can help someone else is the first step to getting what you’re looking for as well, he says.

And then our conversation then turned to Philip’s time with life coaches and life-coach-types to help them find what they were missing in their current work. I stay quiet as Philip details the idiotic aspects of “life coaching” — or at least the idiotic aspects of some of their previous “coaches.”

He says they now judge their potential teachers by their fruit, and I’m not sure if he’s aware of this reference to the new testament.

I ask him what he means, and he says:

“You know — you look at what they’ve accomplished in life, what their day-to-day life is like now, how happy they are. These are the fruits on the tree, so to speak.”

The person they eventually found was less of a coach and more of a mentor. In the style of the Go-Giver, a book he recommended, their new mentor was actually living more of the life that called them. He had the fruits.

More time for presence, more time for love, more time to relax. And a financial security by staying active in generating passive income with some bit of e-commerce (that I didn’t care to ask about).

I can tell that Phillip’s happy. Seemingly happier than I’ve ever seen him. Knowing where he is and where he’s going.

And I wonder out loud — what has he learned to get here?

He says it breaks down to two things: perspective and people.

I ask about his perspective, and he gives me a list that breaks down into the following:

  • cultivating humility and optimism
  • cultivating a growth-mindset
  • cultivating a readiness to research, listen, read, and learn

and most of all,

  • cultivating an eagerness to learn from other people

“It’s simple, but not easy,” he says.

We can learn to find teachers by looking for their fruits. What they’ve produced. What they make.

And then we learn by copying and mimicking. We can learn ways of doing things by spending time and having conversations with other people that have done them.

Seems right. Just as I was doing now, he says, as he takes another piece of sushi. Taking the time to have a conversation and looking to see if I could learn from any aspect of his path.

He’s also, in his own measured way, looking to see if he could learn anything from mine.


I hope this helps!


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Photo credits:

Photo 1 by Randy Jacob on Unsplash
Photo 2 by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Photo 3 by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash