Avalanche of Jealousy

For the past year, my primary occupation has been that of real estate investor.  To date, I have invested in two mobile home parks and my partners and I will be closing on a small apartment building in April. I have taken the methodical approach to starting up this business with a “slow and steady” view to growth.  This approach has worked for me as I haven’t pushed myself unnecessarily to a point where I’d be hit with tons of stress, excessive business travel, and frequent panic attacks (been there and done that).

With a 5 and 2-year-old at home, my priority has been on parenting them and setting up our finances so there aren’t worries on how to pay for the next meal.  Taking stock of the past year, I think I have accomplished both.  Then again, I guess we won’t really know if I was successful until the kids become adults and say one of two things:

  • Thanks for parenting me Dad, my therapy bills are only $1,000 a month, OR
  • Thanks for parenting me Dad, my therapy bills are $10,000 a month

Until getting an invoice from the kid’s future therapist, I’m going to say I’ve been happy with the results of my new occupation.  Knowing this, makes the jealousy I felt last week all the more surprising.

A year ago, I met another real estate investor who had been working on his business for just about a year.  Being competitive (meditation still hasn’t solved that), I figured he had a “head-start” of a year on me.  I judged him to be reasonably competent and at the time he had closed on a couple of midsized deals.

In our conversation, I asked him what his goals were for his business.  His answer – “to be large enough that my name is on the side of a building” a ’la Trump.  I pretty much scoffed at that notion and thought to myself, “good luck with that buddy.”  Fast forward a year later to last week and our real estate investor friend is well on his way to seeing his name up in lights.

Last week, I received an email from this investor friend asking me to dial-in to an online conference call he was conducting around a new real estate opportunity.  Being someone who is always curious as to what deals are out there, I decided to tune in.

Upon logging into the Video Conference, the first thing I noticed was there were 62 other interested investors on the call.  Whoa – that’s some serious traction!  The next thing I noticed was the amount of money that my investor friend was trying to raise – 8 million dollars!  8 million dollars!?  On top of that, the deal he was pulling together was for the acquisition of an apartment complex with over 250 units and the subsequent new development of another 50 units!  Not only was this deal impressive, but when he described his other closed deals, he mentioned several additional investments that were all this size or BIGGER!  Put simply, my man was CRUSHING IT!

For the next 10 minutes, I watched his investor pitch in awe and found myself becoming increasingly more and more jealous over what his hard work and perseverance had gotten him.  I was happy for his perceived success, but I started to question the miniscule business I had created in comparison.

Why hadn’t I been putting in more hours on business development?

Why weren’t my deals bigger?

Were my goals too small?

Was I not thinking big enough?

In a nutshell, all of these questions led to one conclusion – I’m a shitty real estate investor.

In reading this, most of you will have clearer eyes and calmer emotions than I had during this presentation and you will quickly see the ridiculousness of my jealousy laden questioning.  For me, jealousy taps into the most irrational areas of my brain and causes an avalanche of unproductive thoughts and feelings while burying both logic and truth.

As my stomach tightened further with each new abusive thought that entered my psyche, I soon found myself sitting at my desk, in the comfort of my own home, watching a computer screen and BEING IN PAIN!  Real, physical, gut-wrenching pain!?!?!

Identifying the tightness in my tummy (thank you Vedas – inventors of meditation), I knew this pain had to stop. As I worked to slow down my breathing, I was able to grab onto the first rational thought I had in the past 10 minutes. Buried deep under that avalanche of emotions, the thought was –

This real estate investor dude is trying to convince 62 people to give him 8 million dollars. Good for him, but that sounds incredibly stressful and exhausting.”

Immediately, the brief moment of clarity ripped me out of the avalanche and the next thought was, “why am I even watching this?  My time is better spent tucking the kids into bed.”  And with that, I closed my computer and headed downstairs to read my kids a book.

Jealousy causes me to see things with a very myopic or nearsighted lens.  Like being buried under an avalanche, I find myself seeing only the snow (thought) directly in front of my eyes.  However, once I am able to see the bigger picture, I am sucked out of the jealousy avalanche and into the confines of a saner mind.

Prior to logging into the presentation, if I had kept a more holistic view, I would have watched without judgement or jealousy.  Actually, if I was truly coming from an enlightened mindset, I probably wouldn’t have dialed in at all, knowing I was doing so not as a possible investor, but as someone who wanted to see how their business compared.  I’m no psychologist, but isn’t comparing ourselves against another, the core root of jealousy?  Therefore, isn’t it true if I don’t choose to compare, I never become jealous? 

If I never become jealous, I reduce the likelihood of getting my stomach in knots, I don’t waste 10 minutes of my life and I can spend more time snuggling with my kids before they decide they are too old to let Dad give them eskimo kisses before bed. With that said, who’s got time for jealousy when eskimo kisses from kids in superhero pajamas are waiting for you?

The decision not to go gung-ho with my career right now was a personal one.  Outside of discussions with my wife and parents, it is one of the few major decisions I have made in my life where I didn’t look to other friends, mentors, business leaders, podcasters, or authors for direction.  Not wanting to be influenced by an inflated ego or societal pressures, I went with my gut.  In doing so, I turned down opportunities to seek revenge against the ex-partners who fired me, lead other organizations, and make more money.  What made the decision a sound one, was it was rooted in my truth.

Even when making decisions that are good ones, we must frequently manage ourselves to ensure we remain on the “correct” and stable path.  As I continue to work on my “minuscule” real estate business, I do so with one ear to the ground, listening for the cracks and fissures of the next avalanche of emotions.

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