If you’re familiar with our office, you may have noticed the car wash next door. Well, it’s a big, nice building that used to operate as a car wash anyway. We haven’t heard the oceanside-like sound of rushing water for three or four years, maybe more. Well, after staring at for long enough, I got it in my head that the structure could be purchased and converted into a gorgeous office building. I found examples of similar conversions from around the country, spoke with a contractor, and daydreamed a lot. Then I wised-up.
The fact of the matter is, I’m not in the real estate development business. Not only could a project like that drain my resources of time and money, but it could end up looking…really dumb. “Dude, is your office in a car wash?” These are all distinct possibilities had I plowed forward, headfirst into a construction project.
As I consider how I got to that precipice in the first place, going so far out of my realm of expertise that it’s laughable, I think I’ve discovered the motivation, at least one of them anyway. The headline. You see, it sounds really great in my head (my ego?) to imagine people saying, “Wow, that’s a big project; you must be really successful.” After all, it’s a visible and tangible marker of traditional success that we can all agree upon. Successful people build buildings, or so we’re lead to believe.
But what if I don’t renovate or build a building? How will the world know that I’m ‘successful’? You have no idea that we helped quite a few families plan a successful retirement this year. There’s no big headline telling you so. But if you see us constructing a building, then you’ll know, right?
I share all of this because I’ve noticed over the years that the most financially successful and independent people often don’t all look wildly successful from the outside. They win financially in smaller, quieter ways. They have no major headlines to announce to the world that they’re getting things done on the financial front. In other words, real tangible wealth often looks like a Ford F150 rather than a brand new Bentley. If we chase the headlines, like we’re all tempted to do, we may end looking great on the outside but failing to reach our true goals that are rooted in humility, patience, and sacrifice.
Ugh…that’s no fun. No fun at all.
So if you’re intent on building financial security for yourself and your family, big headlines may not be where it’s at. Those are for the other people. Instead, exercising the muscles required to strengthen your inner game may pay much greater dividends, even though it’s often less fun.
I probably should add that owning a building certainly isn’t a bad thing; many people do generate wealth that way. The more important point here is to recognize when we’re being wise and when we’re chasing headlines. The difference between the two cannot be overstated. So we’ll continue to stay under the radar in our nice understated office and continue to help one retiree at a time, neither of which gets announced on a banner flown behind a plane. We’ll continue ask ourselves the same tough questions that you ask yourself, in order to ensure we’re doing the right things for the right reasons. In the meantime, anybody want to convert an old car wash into a frozen custard stand? That sure sounds tasty right now.
All the best,
Adam Cufr, RICP®