I want to talk to you today about something that’s been in my thoughts recently – a question of our mindset as appraisers, if you will – that was brought on by a recent experience I had.
Part of my role as the Appraiser Coach is staying tapped into the general appraiser community. I do that through browsing Facebook groups, readin
g forums and, y’know… actually talking to people. I like to think I’ve got a pretty good sense for where our profession is at, and – in turn – I know there are a heck of a lot of disgruntled appraisers out there.
Regular readers will know that I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, but – I’ll admit it – there are days when I feel pretty down about things too. It might be the low fees that get to me, the various stipulations of the work, the AMC world we live in, and so on. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of a tough day and think, “Man, can I really do this for the rest of my life?” Well, that all got turned on its head recently.
The church my family attends relies heavily on volunteers. Rather than lobbying for particular jobs, the church leader will approach us with tasks to which they think we’re suited, and it’s then up to us to either accept or refuse (most people accept, as you might expect).
The tasks for which we volunteer are generally ones which will help our community. One of the big problems our church has identified in our area is un – or under – employment. Recently, yours truly was appointed as something of an “employment specialist”, to help people either get a job, or get a better job. It’s not exactly in my comfort zone, but the church leader knew it was an area I’ve got some experience in.
This has turned out to be an incredibly valuable experience for me. It’s allowed me to get into people’s homes, meet people who are struggling that I wouldn’t usually get the chance to t
alk to, and – in theory – help them out a little.
One meeting has stood out above all the others. I had the opportunity recently to sit down with a 67 year old man, who’d been a plumber his whole life. Having been extremely healthy for most of that time, he became seriously sick when he was 66. He survived (though it was touch-and-go for a while), but was left physically unable to keep working as a plumber.
Folks, I tell you, I looked into this guy’s eyes and saw a broken man. The sickness hadn’t just hurt his body, but his mind too. He’s a proud guy, and – through no fault of his own – he’d suddenly been rendered unable to provide for his family. Being a plumber, and specifically one who doesn’t own his own business, he didn’t have much in the way of savings to fall back on either.
Of course I couldn’t truly empathize with this man – I’ve never experienced anything like that, after all – so all I could do was try to sympathize. The only measure of comfort I could offer him came from a Buddhist teaching that I learned recently; maybe it’ll
offer you some comfort in tough times too. The teaching is that if you step into the same river twice, then it’s never the same river. The experiences we have in life are constantly flowing, like a river, and it’s how we react to them that’s important. Step into a river, and the water will mold itself around the obstacles – your legs – and carry on flowing. We need to do the same thing, when we encounter obstacles in our lives.
Getting to know my new friend, the plumber, has helped to put things in perspective for me. As appraisers, we have it pretty darn good. We really do. We own our own businesses, we’re largely in control of our own future, and – even if something were to happen to us physically – we’d probably be able to carry on working in our jobs in some capacity. Sure there are some negatives, but I think there are far more positives to being an appraiser than we realize sometimes.
On that note, I encourage you to be positive – yes – but I also ask you to be forward-thinking and not become too stagnant. After reading this, please just take a moment to think about where you want to be in one year, and three years, and think about what you’re doing to actually move towards those goals. I promise you that even if you just spend the briefest amount of time doing this, it will be extremely beneficial.
Above all else, just remember folks; it could always be worse.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 108 – It Could Be Worse