Monthly Sucess Tips: Hire People Smarter Than You
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“I am stupid” were the words I accidentally blurted out as I stared at the $2000 tax rebate check neatly extracted from a now tattered IRS envelope…
A few months ago, I decided to substitute my yearly H&R block tax preparation with the highly touted and much publicized Turbo Tax software; a software package emblazoned with the words “Get your biggest tax refund-Guaranteed.” Energized by the Turbo Tax guarantee, I rushed down to a local bookstore and purchased the premier edition of the software package. I unwrapped the package and placed the CD into my computer. Several minutes later and after a seemingly number of endless mouse clicks, the software was installed and ready. I followed the instructions provided by the software, entering all the required information into their corresponding field, name, account, address, occupation, deductions, social security etc. All my data was now fully loaded, all I had to do was hit the ENTER button and I would be rewarded with guaranteed money…It must have been a computer glitch, a system error, or even a virus but the number that came out on my computer screen was bright red! I owed the IRS money? At that moment, the only thought that raced through my head was “I am stupid.” I quickly dialed a certified personal accountant; surely they could uncover my unfortunate software glitch. What was intended as a call for clarification turned out to be a call for salvation. After several minutes of conversing, the CPA was able to find several errors with my tax preparation. He urged me to send in my tax documents for a more detailed analysis in exchange for a modest fee. I agreed to his terms and several weeks later, I received an envelope in the mail from the IRS; A $2000 check addressed to me!
Moments like this are a reminder of how often we tend to get caught up in our own intellectualism. An Intellectualism that blinds us from our apparent lack of knowledge. When filing my taxes, I assumed that a software package could easily replace a college educated professional accountant. I was humbly proved wrong. Unfortunately, scenarios in which people intentionally bypass experts in a bid to save money happens quite often. Visits to a doctor are casually replaced by a tylenol pill and certified financial advice is eschewed in favor of wild internet stock tips. None can be more evident than in the arena of real estate, where realtors are often ignored because of the mandatory 3% fee that accompanies their usage. This action grossly underestimates the knowledge and skills needed to purchase a home and often results in a disgruntled seller or buyer.
A year ago, I was exposed to the potential danger of working alone in the real-estate business. In 2007, I fell in love with a little brown house; its subdivision was quiet and its layout pristine. At the advise of a realtor, I put in a bid at $20,000 less than the asking price; an offer that was promptly rejected by the seller within hours. Worried at the prospect of losing the property to a competing buyer, I called my realtor and asked him to raise the current offer to the sellers asking price. My panicked attitude stood in stark contrast to his calm demeanor; he pushed back. Something from his years of experience told him that we could counter instead with an offer $15,000 less than the asking price. After much debate I finally gave in to my realtor. We made our offer and waited agonizingly for a response from the seller. And it finally came in the wee hours of the morning. My “lowball” offer had been accepted! As I sat in the closing agent’s office a few days later, I couldn’t help but think that the amount I was staring at on the loan offer would have been $15,000 higher if it weren’t for the guidance of an experienced realtor.
The attitude of “admitted-stupidity” I displayed in both instances are greatly encouraged by best selling author Robert Kiyosaki. In his must read book “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” Kiyosaki re-collects how his rich dad advised him to pay professionals -accountants, attorneys, realtors and financial advisors- well. Why? According to Kiyosaki “if people are professionals, their services should make you money. And the more money they make, the more money you make.” This became evident when I filed my taxes and during my foray into real-estate business. Working with professionals saved me a combined $17088! Unfortunately, pride often blinds people from seeing the benefits of adhering to such a simple principle.
I recall sharing the story of my tax return turn-around at dinner with a couple of friends. I expected my story to inspire them to seek professional help with their taxes, but instead it triggered the reverse. I was accused of improperly utilizing the tax preparation software and told that if I had in fact used it properly I would have gotten the same result as my accountant! For hours I argued that surely “a software could not replace a professional accountant.” However, every time I tried to make this argument, I was subtly accused of being stupid. Eventually, I quit arguing and came to a quiet realization; not everyone can admit their lack of knowledge or their lack of ability. Despite the obvious financial proof I brought forward, I was still mocked. I left dinner that day confused and remained that way for a long time until I stumbled across these great words from Greek philosopher Epicetus:
“If you want to succeed [improve], be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”
From those words I fully understood, “success in life does not come from bragging about how much you know, but by understanding and accepting how much you don’t know.” Only then will you be able to ride upon the shoulders of the truly wise into the clouds of success. Admit your stupidity and you’ll succeed.
Africa’s #1 Success Coach
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