If you read my Thoughts on Leadership post last week, I referenced one of my mentors, Jim Rohn, and even posted a photo from us in the ’90s. (I guess funky sweaters were in back then?) Anyway, sharing that story made me think back to when I first met Jim at the very beginning of my real estate career.
When I started in the real estate business, I was working at a company called Fox & Carskadon, a prestigious firm in the San Francisco Bay area. At the Sunnyvale office, I was fortunate enough to end up sitting behind an agent by the name of Mike Ray and to this day, I consider him the best real estate agent I have ever been associated with.
Why? He was so, so, so knowledgeable about everything related to real estate and the market. Back then people didn’t have assistants, and even without help, Mike would list more than 50 homes per year, which was a lot for that time. He was just that good. Without the benefits and efficiencies of technology, without social media, without anything but his skills and service, he listed that many homes a year.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t choose that seat in the office on purpose. I sat behind Mike because I knew I could learn a great deal from him. Beyond being a stellar agent, he was also a really great human being.
In his former job before he got into real estate, Mike worked for Jim Rohn selling seminar tickets. When Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar and Og Mandino came to San Jose to speak, my connection to Mike secured me front row, and comped seats for the show. Mike also got me backstage to meet Jim, Og and Zig, which was an experience that left me totally in awe. It was backstage during that initial meeting when Og, out of the blue, took a particular liking and interest in me. I had no idea how lucky I was as a brand-new agent to have Og Mandino as a mentor. (Mike Ray has since tragically passed but buddy, THANK YOU.)
So, from a very early stage in my career, I had the incredible opportunity to meet Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar and Og Mandino. And let’s talk about my friend, Og Mandino. Og shot to fame in 1968, after the publication of his book, “Greatest Salesman in the World.” The book was based on a short story he wrote for Success Unlimited, a magazine that Og coincidentally edited. When Fred Fell, the owner of a small publishing house, read the article while waiting for a dentist’s appointment, he immediately knew this was a best-selling story. He called Og and a legendary career was made.
But Og’s life wasn’t all once-in-a-lifetime breaks in dental offices. Born in Boston, Og joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and was honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war, he turned to a career as an insurance salesman, though that quickly spiraled downhill. While he traveled, he would stop at hotel bars during the night and drink, which turned into a serious drinking problem. His first wife left him. He was so depressed; he almost took his life. But thankfully for the world and all those he’s inspired since, he didn’t and instead, headed to the self-help section of his local library.
It was there among words from the wise that Og decided to turn his life around.
I’ve read every single book Og has ever written and because of my Mike Ray and Jim Rohn connection, Og signed them all. There was one particular excerpt from an Og Mandino book that served as inspiration for the early iteration of my morning routine, and it’s part of my routine today and part of my coaching program.
How did this particular book come to inspire me? If you’ll stick with me, I’ve got one more story to tell…
I was driving from a Mike Ferry Superstar Retreat at the Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Springs to a bachelor party in Las Vegas. It was just a few years into my career, and I was hungry for as much information as I could digest. I was winding through the desert, just me, the Joshua trees and my 1991 Lexus. The road was empty, and it was very, very quiet—the kind of quiet where you can actually think. I happened to be listening to the book, “Mission Success” by Og Mandino and in the midst of all this desert silence, I hear Og’s wonderful voice cutting straight through the dry air:
I will live as all good actors do when they are onstage—only in the moment. I cannot perform at my best today by regretting my previous act’s mistakes or worrying about the scene to come.
I will embrace today’s difficult tasks, take off my coat and make dust in the world. I will remember that the busier I am, the less harm I am apt to suffer, the tastier will be my food, the sweeter my sleep and the better satisfied I will be with my place in the world.
I will free myself today from [an obsession] to the clock and calendar. Although I will plan this day in order to conserve my steps and energy. I will begin to measure my life in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not seasons; in feelings, not figures on a dial.
I will remain aware of how little it takes to make this a happy day. Never will I pursue happiness, because it is not a goal, just a by-product, and there is no happiness in having or in getting, only in giving.
I will run from no danger I might encounter today, because I am certain that nothing will happen to me that I am not equipped to handle with your help. Just as any gem is polished by friction. I am certain to become more valuable through this day’s adversities, and if you close one door, you always open another for me.
I will live this day as if it were Christmas. I will be a giver of gifts and deliver to my enemies the gift of forgiveness; my opponents, tolerance; my friends, a smile; my children, a good example, and every gift will be wrapped with unconditional love.
I will waste not even a precious second today in anger or hate or jealousy or selfishness. I know that the seeds I sow will harvest, because every action, good or bad, is always followed by an equal reaction. I will plant only good seeds this day.
I will treat today as a priceless violin. One may draw harmony from it and another, discord, yet no one will blame the instrument. Life is the same, and if I play it correctly, it will put forth beauty, but if I play it ignorantly, it will produce ugliness.
I will condition myself to look on every problem I encounter today as no more than a pebble in my shoe. I remember the pain, so harsh I could hardly walk, and recall my surprise when I removed my shoe and found only a grain of sand.
I will work convinced that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. To do anything today that is truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger but jump in the gusto and scramble through as well as I can.
I will face the world with goals set for this day, but they will be attainable ones, not the vague, impossible variety declared by those who make a career of failure. I realize that you always try me with a little first, to see what I would do with a lot.
I will never hide my talents. If I am silent, I am forgotten. If I do not advance, I will fall back. If I walk away from any challenge today, my self-esteem will be forever scarred, and if I cease to grow, even a little, I will become smaller. I reject the stationary position because it is always the beginning of the end.
I will keep a smile on my face and in my heart even when it hurts today. I know that the world is a looking-glass and gives back to me the reflection of my own soul. Now I understand the secret of correcting the attitude of others and that is to correct my own.
I will turn away from any temptation today that might cause me to break my word or lose my self-respect. I am positive that the only thing I possess more valuable than my life is my honor.
I will work this day with all my strength, content in the knowledge that life does not consist of wallowing in the past or peering anxiously at the future. It is appalling to contemplate the great number of painful steps by which one arrives at a truth so old, so obvious and so frequently expressed. Whatever it offers, little or much, my life is now.
I will pause whenever I am feeling sorry for myself today and remember that this is the only day I have and must play it to the fullest. What my part may signify in the great whole, I may not recognize, but I am here to play it and now is the time.
I will count this day a separate life.
I will remember that those who have fewest regrets are those who take each moment as it comes for all that it’s worth.
This is my day!
These are my seeds.
Thank you for this precious garden of time.
As Og spoke these words, I felt my entire state of being change. I thought to myself, “I have to read this every single morning because it will change my state of mind and put me in the right mindset not to simply get through the day like everybody else but to take from the day.”
And I have read that excerpt every single day for the last 36 years.
So, what’s the message? The message is that mentors, no matter what circumstances you’re in, can have a profound impact on your life and your career. I thank Og Mandino, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn and Mike Ray for the indelible impression they made on me early in my real estate journey and for the lessons they taught, which I still carry with me to this day.
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.