Opportunity Cost, Time Management, and Principles

As I write this, I am sitting in traffic court waiting for my turn to present my case.  They say every story has two sides.  I would guess that is why the officer who pulled me over is seated across the room waiting for his turn.  I just hope the judge likes my story more than his.  We shall see.

Before I left the house, my wife asked me why I am bothering with this defense.  “You speed all the time,” she said.  “Just because you claim you were not speeding THIS time does not mean you should not just pay the fine.  Furthermore, is it really worth your time?  The fine is $90, and you will give up how many appraisal inspections while you are in court?”

As usual, my wife is the smartest one in the room (that is not too difficult when I am the only other one in the room).  However, let me explain why I feel it is important for me to be here.  First of all, when you plead guilty to a moving violation, the actual cost is much higher than the initial fine (increased insurance costs).  Secondly, my office staff will be able to handle my business matters just fine while I am here.  Finally—and most importantly—I am NOT guilty in this case.  I was not speeding when the officer pulled me over, and it is the principle that matters most here.

Every day, we must make decisions.  Those decisions do not typically fall within the parameters of right vs. wrong.  Most of the time, our decisions are based on opportunity costs and time management.  Sometimes, however, principles of truth and justice are at play.

Opportunity Costs

Remember that every economic decision we make also has an opportunity cost that should also be considered.  When you choose to invest in an IRA, for example, you simultaneously choose to NOT invest that same amount in another financial vehicle.  When you choose to accept a complex job assignment and only increase your typical fee by 20%, you choose to not do three other jobs at the normal fee.  On the other hand, by not accepting the complex job or by asking for an excessive fee, the cost may be never working again for that particular client.

Time Management

The common thread among all people is that we are all blessed with the same amount of time.  Rich or poor, white or black, male or female, we all have 24 hours in the day.  What we do with that time, however, is a prime determinant in our level of success.  Those who understand this truth make wise decisions with their obligations.


The most important decisions we make in life have to do with principles.  In short, principles are defined as truths that have always existed and will forever exist.  They cannot be changed.  These are the decisions of morality, right, and wrong.  These are the ones that really matter.

In business, these are the decisions of ethics, morals, and the law.  I spend a lot of time and computer screen real estate preaching the importance of human resources, technology and systems management.  However, above all, it is your integrity that really matters.  No matter what your decisions, make sure that you are always honest in everything you do.

In the end, looks like the judge also believes in principles.  I am leaving the courtroom a happy… and slower driver.

Now, go create some value!

Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth.  His two-day workshop will be held on Oct. 7-8, 2013 in Salt Lake City. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.

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