We appraisers must make decisions every day. However, sometimes taking that step is really difficult. I can’t take away the difficulty and discomfort inherent in making a decision, but this blog just may help you to understand that discomfort between having to make that a decision and having made that decision, is really a time of great learning.
All people face constantly the space between two extremes (that space is the gap in the title to this blog). For example, take a pole-vaulter who, since high school, has been training to be an Olympics-class athlete. She knows what it takes to reach that level. She knows what it takes physically, mentally and psychologically. She has watched other athletes of her caliber train. She has listened to her coaches. She is aware of what the current Olympic pole-vault record is, the record she wants to smash. She has listened to other pole-vaulters more advanced in the sport than she is. So she knows where she is, as well as where she wants to be. That is the tragic gap. This is the gap she wants to close.
So, how do we close the gaps we feel? Not by sitting at home eating a cheeseburger, feeling sorry for ourselves. The old saying is when a window closes a door opens. I believe that’s true; but I also believe that sometimes, before that door opens, we have to find it ourselves and then turn the knob. Sometimes, too, we may have to smash our foot thru that door to get it open so we can see what’s on the other side. We may even have to search for the light switch on the wall so we can see what’s in that room whose door we just smashed open. That’s one way of closing that gap between curiosity and knowledge, isn’t it?
Parker Palmer (Google® his name), a social scientist and philosopher, has described this gap (sometimes called cognitive dissonance), as well as why it is important that we bridge it in all aspects of our daily lives. Palmer says we as humans long to close that gap between where we are and where we want to be; that gap between what we know and what we thought we knew. It is uncomfortable to be in this between-and-betwixt state since we know we are at point-A, when we really want to be at point-B. So, how do we get to point-B?
Given this discomfort and our desire to be comfortable, sometime we close that gap too soon. Too hastily, we make a decision to close that gap since we want to be in a comfort zone. We make the decision too hastily because we want to move forward; we want to reconcile that cognitive dissonance; we want to close that gap.
So, how does this apply to us, the boots-on-the-ground appraisers? Some of us have been in the appraisal business a long time. In that time, we have seen a lot of innovation, some of beneficial, some of which we don’t like or understand. We don’t know how to do business under some of these innovations since they did not exist when we learned how to appraise. So we want to give up, get out of the business, stop training new associates, stop paying attention in CE classes, start cutting corners and so forth.
However, the point Palmer makes is that this gap that we so ardently want to close because it is so uncomfortable, may be the place in which we grow the most. To be in that gap is an adversity. Nevertheless, it is in overcoming adversity that we learn what is really important to us and what is entirely trivial. In that gap, we learn where our strengths lie (so we can leverage them) and where our weaknesses are (so we can work around them).
So, while everybody’s appraisal career will, for a variety of reasons and at a variety of speeds, eventually come to an end, please do not too hastily make that decision to end it prematurely. Seek the advice of your peers – ask them what they do to fit the innovations in the appraisal business into their business plans. Part of what I do every day is consult with appraisers about how to make their appraisal businesses more efficient, about how to close that gap (or narrow it) between the appraisal business of 10-years ago and the significantly-changed real estate appraisal business of today. Being in that gap gives us time to reflect on what it is about our business (or even ourselves) we need to change. It shows us that, to get where we want to be, we first need to know where we are.
So, yes, being in that gap is uncomfortable. But that discomfort may be just the motivation we want to make the changes we need to make to be successful in this business. Being in that gap may be one our greatest learning experiences. Closing that gap may be a great satisfying experience.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 68 The Tragic Appraiser Gap