I’ve been cleaning up my thumb drives of old things that are no longer needed or wanted. In the process, I come across business plans and ideas that I have almost forgotten I had written. As I look at them afresh, in the aftermath of the total meltdown of every idea that seemed so right a year ago, I begin to realize that there is no flaw in the plans. As with most things in life, belief and timing are everything.
I own three houses for the time being. After next week’s bank meeting, I may be entice to walk away. The problem isn’t that I didn’t have a good plan to fix them and create revenue from them. I even had started my own contracting business and had all the requirements in place, had all the costing done and all the material sources secured. What I didn’t have was anyone who was willing to really believe in the plan. Those who did believe lost faith when they started to see the futility of thinking that almost everyone they met was a good fit for the program. In reality, as I had tried to point out before but was overruled, not 50% of poor people make good candidates, but 5%. And 5% might even be a little high. And, as much as I hate to say it, even of the 4–yes, 4–people who I ever saw get anything out of our best efforts to help them, I wonder about half of them. And, as much as I hate to say it, poor people stay poor because it’s what they are comfortable with. It’s like Plato’s story of the men in the cave.
I suppose you could say that I myself am the proof that what I say about poor people is not true. But, quite the opposite. While I have all kinds of knowledge and many plans to escape poverty, I am still poor. I have the same problem as everyone else–lack of faith. That lack of faith has never been iterated so much as allowed to circle in my mind. As James said in his letter in the Bible, show me a man who has faith and I will show you my faith by what I do. So, actions speak louder than words. Or, as has been said, talk is cheap. This last year I have done a lot of talking, and a lot of people have done a lot of talking to me. A lot of promises were made, but, in the end, those are just talk.
So, not I am in a quandary because I allowed everything to be talk and didn’t force any action. If I am allowed to dig my way out of my current hole, then I will have to show my faith by what I do. I will not make it if I sit back with a nebulous belief that it will all work out for the best. I think James would agree. Again, somewhere it says, if I wish someone who is starving “peace and safety”. but I give him no food, I have done nothing to help. When one is down, one needs encouragement. When one is sick, one needs care or medicine. But when one is paralyzed by lack of cash flow, one needs money. When one lacks the time to bring a project to completion, one needs others to provide the time, the labor.
Small-minded thinking asks what one can get for oneself here and now, with no thought of the future. Small-minded thinking does not understand that sacrificing for the whole is better in the long run than “getting what’s mine.” I have had enough small-minded thinking. I have had enough of those who wait around for me to magically create living space and jobs and all sorts of pleasures for them out of thin air without realizing that, without their sacrifice, without their putting their faith in my plan into action, without their selling the idea, creating support, bringing in resources, it is futile. Now, I look at myself and realize that I must also get rid of small-minded thinking. For, by relying on the promises of others I have been lax in stepping out in faith to achieve my goals without leaning on others.
In the same way, America, the big picture, is the same. Everyone despairs of success in the economy and waits to see what the government or some charity is going to do to help them along. But success takes faith, faith in action. It’s been said that luck is nothing more than being prepared to take the opportunity when it comes. In other words, we all have up turns and down turns in life. When we are on the down turn is the time for us to be working the hardest. The opportunity for the up turn is going to come. If we have been neglecting to prepare, to stay sharp and focused, to hone skills, to add education, to build bridges, those opportunities may not find us, or we might have to pass on them because of bad timing. You see, most of the time, bad timing isn’t bad luck, it’s bad planning. America continues its short-sighted ways, so that, when the opportunities come to once again run with new technologies and lead the world, we will fail for lack of being prepared to live in 21st Century reality.
If I hadn’t dived into a pool of bad real estate, worse business advisers and even worse managers, and if I hadn’t jumped before measuring the housing bubble correctly, I could have been quite successful in real estate. Well, that was bad timing brought about my bad planning. Once you are in a hole, you have two choices–fight or flight. So far, I haven’t walked away. So far, I have been fighting to prepare for the opportunity to turn things around, fighting to jettison everything holding me back. It’s been a long fight, fourteen years. It’s been much longer than necessary, because there was no clear plan and no real leaps of faith. Opportunities came along, but lack of planning means they weren’t implemented very well. They could have been successful, but they failed.
Now, it’s the start of year 15. How are things going to be different? For my part, I have to look afresh at time. Time is the most valuable resource we have. Each of us has a limited supply of it. This year I’m going to be asked to have triple the economic output of previous years. That means I’m going to have to spend three times as many hours doing billable work. An honest assessment of last year reveals a sober truth. Too much time was wasted trying to make up for lost time. The more I got behind, the less I slept. The less I slept, the slower I worked. The slower I worked, the more I got behind. So, first way to save time is to keep strict time. Ben Franklin’s words are simple and true. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
What are things that eat into my time needlessly? Facebook. I should allow myself a few minutes before bed to check my Facebook page and see what’s going on. Inevitably I find myself taking some stupid quiz or other, which leads me to looking at links and reading absolutely senseless, time-wasting articles about which celebrity has the best hair or whatever. Then, about the time I realize that my sleep time is disappearing, someone comes on and wants to chat. First rule of time is that it’s mine, it’s precious, and you shouldn’t feel offended if I don’t give it to you, unless you are willing to pay me for it. As for the quizzes and goof-off sites, this is TMI in my life. It distracts and ever muddles my head up with useless information that makes it harder to focus on useful information. So, that’s all gotta go. Let’s say that I waste one hour a day less on the internet. That’s 365 extra hours in a year, times, conservatively $50 per hour, equals time to earn an extra $18,250 this year. So, just my saying goodbye to useless Facebook I will be able to pay to put new roofs on my three houses.
Of course, I probably waste closer to two hours a day on the internet. The other hour I waste is from constantly re-evaluating everything that I do. I dwell on things way too much. Dwelling is mental talk. It’s cheap. It’s not doing. So, lets take the 365 hours I spend evaluating everything and doing nothing about it and put that into action. The first way to do that is to really concentrate on using the internet for good. Technology exists to streamline my billing process. I should be able to save about ten to twenty business days in the process. Using half of my 365 for streamlining leaves me 180 hours for more billable work. Ten less days billing equates to another 80 hours of work time. So, 180 + 80 = 260 x $50 = $13,000, enough to get all of the buildings back into a habitable state. I can move into my own house and rent the other two. An extra $2000 a month for six months from added rents and subtracted utilities = $12,000. $12,000 + $13,000 + $18,500 = $43,500, which will easily triple my positive cash flow.
Now, you may think that’s all a little idealistic. Yes, it is. Back to faith in action. I have to believe that there is enough business out there for me to fill all that time. And I have to believe it enough to stop at nothing less than achieving my goals. That takes effort. But, there is still more time that can be wrested from my day. Probably a least one more hour. And that hour can go toward planning, calling potential customers, and organizing so that I’m saving even more time wasted to travel long distances for one job that could be spent doing three jobs. In other words, I’m very inefficient. So, the first thing I have to believe is that I can change me. Changing me is all about good programming. Keep the trash out, fill myself with good news. That’s in James, too.
1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
In my church on Sundays, we ask God to forgive the bad things we have done and the good things that we have not done. Every moment wasted on bad things leaves one less moment for good things. We can all do a lot of good when we eliminate the evil things from our lives. It’s pretty hard to do. But we don’t have to do it alone. God promises to give us the Spirit to help us. Even for those who don’t believe in God, if you want something badly enough, you will give up what you have to to get it. If you want success, you will give up what keeps you a failure. But faith is a must. It also takes time to be successful. Millions don’t fall from a tree. But almost everyone in this country will earn a million in his or her lifetime. Some will earn a little more and plan to keep it. A little extra time and the belief that it can be done.