“Most people, when directly confronted with proof that they are wrong, do not change their point of view or course of action but justify it even more tenaciously.” ~ Carol Travis & Elliot Aronson, Mistakes were Made (But Not By Me).
My Mom used to joke that she had a third child named “Not me”. Growing up “Not me” was responsible for a lot of mischief. My brother and I didn’t agree on many things but we could almost always agree that “Not me” did the thing that one of us was about to get in trouble for doing. Thankfully, when I was a teenager my parents took in another kid so that there was now a third party to blame things on … making “not me” even more difficult to identify. 🙂
Now, as kids most of the time we knew we had done something wrong and just didn’t want to admit it. As we get older we still do things wrong but often convince ourselves it’s not wrong.
I’ve often wondered how seemingly good people turn into dishonest and self serving politicians. The book I am reading right now holds an answer to that. Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) covers a lot of experiments and examples that show how little by little, small acts of dishonesty, eventually lead to the justification of big acts of dishonesty. You get a man to lose his ethical compass one step at a time.
Self justification is a scary thing we do to preserve our ego and even ourselves. It’s more powerful than a lie and it is absolutely more dangerous than a lie because we’re not conscious that we’re doing it.
One study by a Yale Professor named Edwin Borchard reviewed 65 errors in criminal justice. 8 involved people convicted of murder where the victim actually turned up alive. Police and prosecutors refused to admit they did something wrong even though they convicted someone of murdering someone that was still alive.
Interesting, but how is this relevant to real estate investing?
The bigger the investment of time, money and energy into something you’ve voluntarily chosen to pursue, the more attractive that something becomes to you. In other words, the more effort you put into finding and negotiating a deal, securing the funding, or presenting to that potential investor, the less likely you are to process future information pertaining to that person/opportunity accurately.
How Smart People Get Involved with Bad Real Estate Deals
You wonder how smart people can get involved in bad deals? How great investors raise money from troublesome partners? Or even how you can end up spending a lot of money on something you never needed or wanted in the first place? It happens gradually … one step at a time. And the more time, effort and money you put into something the more critical it is to have a trusted third party who can look over your decision before you’re locked in; Someone who has no vested interest in your outcome. This means it can’t be your realtor, mortgage broker, business partner, spouse or child.
You need people in your life who aren’t afraid to tell you when something doesn’t sound good even though you’re super excited. As Travis & Aronson say “We need a few trusted naysayers in our lives. Critics who are willing to puncture our protective bubble of self-justification and yank us back to reality if we veer too far off.”
Who You Need on Your Real Estate Power Team
Most people focus on getting a great real estate agent, mortgage broker, lawyer and accountant. These folks are important. You also will want some other folks as well like a great maintenance guy, a property manager, and probably a bookkeeper. But today I want to add someone to your real estate power team list that few people talk about – a trusted naysayer. For us, it’s almost always been a paid mentor or coach. For you, it could be a long time friend who is wise to the ways of the real estate world or someone in a mastermind group that you respect. It’s not that you’re looking for someone to criticize you or be a negative nelly – you want someone who can be a guardian over you, watching out for your self-justifications that one step at a time will sabotage you eventually, if they haven’t already begun!
We’ve been guilty of self-justifcation many times. If you haven’t read More than Cashflow yet, you should grab a copy as reading about the many mistakes we’ve made at the hands of self-justification just might stop you. Plus, a reviewer from Texas posted this review on Amazon:
“Hearing personal experience applied to a principle always makes information easier to understand and retain. This book reads as if you are having coffee with a friend. A gifted tested writer who keeps one engaged fully. This is one to come back to often for that help of a mentor.“
How awesome is that?! Thanks Shelb!