O’s Success Tips: The Power Of Mistakes

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It was a light blue run down bungalow with cracked windows and a door that squeaked when opened. The pungent odor of the worn-out carpet was reminiscent of a smoke infested hotel room. The bathroom floor was padded with cheap linoleum that had already begun peeling at its edges; to the right was the master bedroom covered in thick carpet that did little to conceal the obvious slope in the floor, a clear sign of foundation damage. It was perfect! Just as it was described in the numerous real estate investment workshops I had attended. Run down and in need of minor repairs.  My plan was to fix up the property within four weeks and rent it out at a price higher than the monthly mortgage payment.

“In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time.”
Anthony J. D’Angelo

As I starred at the now bare concrete bathroom floor, drenched in sweat  from hours of scraping linoleum, I knew something was wrong. It was nearly two months now and the house still looked the same. The tears that wet the bathroom floor were further evidence that my current condition was unplanned and hurting. In my haste to own a rental property, I had failed to fully analyze the magnitude of repairs that were needed. What seemed like a straightforward task turned out to be a financial nightmare and the contractors I worked with did little to mitigate the situation. The first contractor lived a hundred miles away and spent half of his time complaining about the long commute. His prices were extremely exotic and he worked with a grumpy attitude. The next one was even worse, a drug addict. He took half of the money paid to him and never showed up again. No calls, simply gone. I was dead broke and could not afford to pay any more contractors. The only person I trusted and frankly could afford was myself; a dire situation that now left me on my knees scrapping the concrete bathroom floor. As I left the house that night, one thought echoed through my head. “Why didn’t I just buy a normal house like everyone else?”

“One’s best success comes after his greatest disappointments.”
––Henry Ward Beecher

As I reflect on that moment, I recall the pain and hopelessness that filled me. I had gotten so excited about owning a rental property that I failed to fully analyze the risks associated with such a major purchase. In simple words, I was at a low point in my life. I could barely afford to buy a full meal and spent my leftover cents on cheap noodles. To fill the void created by my fortuitously extended home reconstruction, I was forced to move in with a kind friend who allowed me stay rent-free at his place. To be frank, life was a struggle and my pride was non-existent. I struggled to come up with answers when asked about my project. To be honest, very few people inquired, seeming to discern easily the pain that riddled my face. After months of wallet scratching and laborious home repairs, I was finally able to move into my quasi-remodeled house. I had now become an unwilling tenant to the landlords of financial failure.

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
Henry Ford

After this scathing experience, I was sure that I would never buy another property. However, I ended up purchasing one within a year. The second investment turned out to be a remarkable success and was rented before the first mortgage payment was due. A startling turn-around from just a year ago. This time, my financial analysis was done properly and I ended up spending less than my estimated budget. Not to mention, I was able to complete most of the tasks by myself. My earlier failures had transformed me into a trained handyman. Through my dire financial journey, I was forced to learn how to perform minor repairs such electrical wiring, faucet installation and caulking. I even attended classes where I learned how to carry out more complex tasks such as cement laying and tile installation. This general understanding of home repairs additionally enabled me to negotiate with and select more dependable contractors; vital skill sets that I would have never gained if I had not failed woefully during my first investment attempt. As I look back now on those moments in my life, I quickly realize that they made me a much better investor.

Unfortunately in life, people often retreat at the first sight of failure not realizing that failure itself is inevitable. It exists everywhere; in our relationships, in our businesses and even in our homes. The question is not whether you fail, but what you do with the failure. Do you look at your failures as a series of inconvenient occurrences belonging to the past? Or do you look at them as stepping stones towards a successful future? What ever you do is your decision, but always remember this “the greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” You have to rise from your failures.

Okechukwu Ofili
Africa’s #1 Success Coach
Copyright © 2008 Ofili Speaks, Inc. All rights reserved



Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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