Monday, February 22, 2010

Training, or prescience?

When I was little, I thought having some sort of ESP would be really cool. Or if I could really do the Vulcan Mind Meld. That sort of thing. Of course, nothing like that ever happens, does it?

This Christmas I got a Jedi Mind Trainer toy. Lots of fun, you can train your mind to develop the right signals to control the speed of a fan that floats a ball. This isn't ESP, though, this is just a machine reading your brainwave patterns and letting them control a motor.

What about real ESP, mind reading, predicting the future? I'm convinced that there is something to it. I have had a few (verifiable) instances in which I could predict that something was about to happen, and there was no possible explanation. Once, I was driving across town with my wife, and I told her, "I see blood and guts, something bad is about to happen". I don't do this often, and I had NEVER said it to anyone before -- but I occasionally get "feelings" and change my route, or pull over completely.

About 2-3 minutes after I made this proclamation (and had my wife looking at me like I was insane), a large bird smashed into the windshield and left feathers, blood, and internal bird parts all over. It was nasty. And not something that happens often, and not something I had any possible way of predicting. So yes, I believe. (I have had other incidents).

What does this have to do with Real Estate and investing?

It often takes many years for someone to get really good at a job; whether that job is trading in the market, or flipping properties, or making private equity investments. Some people seem to do this really, really well, some never learn. What makes the difference?

If it was strictly a matter of facts and acting upon them, then we could write software to do it for us. No one has been able to do that. (There are trading systems, and there are systems to evaluate deals and real estate and almost anything else you can imagine, too). But the best of them does not even come close to working as well as a well-trained, intuitive person. Why is this?

I am a student of how the mind works. I got certified in NLP for a few reasons, one was to be a better salesperson; another was to have the tools to help transform people's lives; and another was to get a better understanding of the unconscious mind.

Part of the mind is something called the reticular activating system. This comes into play when you learn a new word, or buy a new car -- you will start seeing that car, or hearing that word, all the time. Because it is "on top of your head" for some reason. If you are unconsciously thinking about something, you will not so much attract it, but rather notice what was already there.

There is an interesting video I saw recently in which an NLP practitioner hired an ad firm to write an advertising campaign for a new line of taxidermy shops. He told them they had to work at his office, and only had a day. Then he had them picked up from their office, and drove them on a long and circuitous route to his office, where they set to work. He had not told them what sort of shops they would write for until they got to his office.

When they were finished and presented their campaign, he pulled out an envelope that had been on a table all day, and showed them almost exactly the campaign they had created. How was this accomplished? During their long drive, they passed signs or displays containing all the elements of the advertising campaign, several times. These elements were seen and stored by their unconscious; they fit right in when they went to create the campaign.

As we go through life, we probably run across a deal or investment once a week that could make us many thousands of dollars. But we don't see them. Because we are not attuned to them.

There are trades that could be made in the stock market every single day that would make lots of money. Few people see them. Fewer still act on them. The greatest traders in the world - they see them and act on them. They know what to look for. They have training. The stock market is mostly unpredictable, except for times when Toyota has problems and their stock goes into free fall. Were you thinking about selling Toyota stock when the news came out? Neither was I! But the NEXT time bad news about a big company comes out, I'll be all over it. Right?

And what about Real Estate? Again, if you have done enough deals, the purchase is (after the numbers work), an intuitive call. Intuition is ESP. At least, in my book it is! And it must be backed up with knowledge and effort. More often than we would like, the best decisions we make are not only based in the things we know or can measure; we must also foster our intuition, the ability of our unconscious mind to evaluate a million things our conscious cannot even know. We need to learn to trust ourselves. Often the first decision we make, our "feel" for something, turns out to be the best one. It isn't because we have pored over lots of data and thought about it endlessly; it is because our unconscious mind has already done all that for us and knows the answer.

But my unconscious mind doesn't talk to me as much as I would like. I have been too rational for too long. Time to start listening to that inner voice! Or, you could just say ... Trust Yourself!


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