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What An 86 Year Old Man Can Teach Us About Procrastination

What An 86 Year Old Man Can Teach Us About Procrastination

I want to tell you the story of Hank.

I work in the Real Estate industry in San Antonio, TX and in our community, Hank is considered The Lion of our business. I train, coach, and teach real estate agents how to become better at what they do. Hank has been doing that for 40 years, he puts me to shame, and that is after a whole other career in The US Air Force where he served hazardous duty, posted all around the world, and protected The President of The United States.

If I ever feel myself getting cocky, all I have to do is look down the hall and see Hank, and I remember that I have a long way to go.

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My Business Hero

An elder statesman now, Hank could kick back. He could rest, play golf, collect stamps…….But not this man. At 86 years young he works a full day every day at our brokerage and then often teaches real estate courses at our local school at night. I often joke to new agents that I am hiring that he will never quit, he will not go quietly. The truth is, he is my business hero and I would be heartbroken to see him not here.

Hank sat in a chair in my office yesterday, told me he felt “Like Crap” and that is sucks getting old. This has become our ritual. I am a crazy morning person, comes with having small kids that have to be at school before the rooster crows, which means I usually beat him here. He will walk into my office, sit down, and we catch up. Sometimes it’s nothing more than small talk, sometimes its much larger issues. The truth is I could speak to him all day.

Don’t hustle. Don’t try.

His demeanor and his attitude about the world are outstanding to me. I have never once heard this man say “What’s in it for me?” Do you know what he complains about? Not having enough work! He so wants to share his knowledge and passion for real estate that no matter how many agents I hire, it’s not enough. And he is heartbroken every time I hire an agent and then they don’t amount to much. Don’t hustle. Don’t try.

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See these are foreign concepts to Hank. It just isn’t in his DNA. Why would you choose this job, or any job, and not give it all you have? Think about it like this. Hank does not work for the money. He has a very comfortable retirement. But he out works and out hustles people half his age, or less, who do need the money. These people have families to feed and bills to pay, yet he works harder than many I know. Why?

This is not to say that we do not have outstanding agents in our brokerage, we do! I am biased but I think we have the best team in the industry. This is more a symptom of the industry as a whole. It isn’t what you see on TV. For the most part, it isn’t glamorous, and it certainly isn’t easy.  Sometimes there can be big bucks……..sometimes, but often you are fighting for all you have, especially in the beginning. Some agents go on to have wonderful, fulfilling careers, and others flame out. Most never even really get started. If I knew the answer as to why then I would be a billionaire. I would have bottled it and sold it time and again.

Why Then Did I Succeed and Others Do Not?

I never set the world on fire as an agent, but I was successful. I hustled every day ( most days ) and fed my family. I was proud of the job that I did. When I think about it though, I had no special training. No secret was given to me when I started. I am not any different than those students sitting in real estate school right now. I had no special knowledge or hidden insight, yet I had a career I could be proud of and now I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Why then did I succeed and others do not?

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If I had to guess I would say that I succeeded simply because I refused to procrastinate. In the beginning, I rarely knew what I was doing but I did something. Maybe I learned this from Hank. This is his life every day. If I didn’t, then I am sure that I re-learn it from him on a day in and day out basis. He is a role model to me of how a man should behave, and treat others.

Each time I write an article for LifeHack, I give it to Hank to read before I submit it to my editor. He never fails me. He always likes the content but doesn’t like the way I wrote it. I can completely respect that. There is never any BS when it comes from Hank.

Yesterday, in my office, he told me the next time I write, it should be on procrastination. So we can get these agents off their duffs and get them hustling. I completely agree and thought what better way to do that than to remind them and the world…………that this 86-year-old man is cleaning your clock and shows no signs of slowing down.

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These lessons are not confined to the Real Estate industry. Not by a long shot. Each one of us can use Hank as a model for how to go about our daily lives.

Hank, of course, is not his real name. I have never asked but I am sure he would tell me that writing about him is useless. I think, however, that his story needs to be told.

Let me leave you with this, though:

If Hank is the exception and not the rule, then what are you? After all, you decide. Procrastination is a choice.

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    More by this author

    Glenn Killey

    Author, Motivational Speaker, Mindset Coach

    What Is Your Defining Mental Picture? What My Teenage Daughter Taught Me About Simplicity What An 86 Year Old Man Can Teach Us About Procrastination The Randomness of Life: 3 Steps to Take Back Control The Law of Reversed Effort

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    Published on June 30, 2020

    What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

    What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

    Many conversations are being held nowadays regarding unconscious bias, but what does it really mean and how can it affect your life and the people around you? With many types of biases, it can get quite confusing. In this article, we’ll touch on cognitive bias, and then zero in on unconscious bias. Both types of biases have an immediate impact on your life because they relate to how you and others think about yourself and other people.

    If you want to protect your relationships and make good decisions about other people, you need to know what these biases mean[1]. Once we have clarity about that, we can explore in more depth unconscious bias and how to address it[2].

    Cognitive Bias

    Let’s start with cognitive bias[3], a predictable pattern of mental errors that result in us misperceiving reality and, as a result, deviating away from the most likely way of reaching our goals[4].

    These mental blind spots impact all areas of our life, from health to relationships and even shopping, as a study recently revealed[5]. In other words, from the perspective of what is best for us as individuals, falling for a cognitive bias always harms us by lowering our probability of getting what we want.

    Cognitive biases have to do with judgment, not mood. Ironically, cognitive biases — such as the optimism bias and overconfidence effect — more often lead to positive moods. Of course, the consequence of falling into cognitive biases, once discovered, usually leaves us in a bad mood due to the disastrous results of these dangerous judgment errors.

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    Unconscious Bias

    Unconscious bias is different from cognitive bias. Also known as implicit bias, it refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and so on[6]. Despite cognitive biases sometimes leading to discriminatory thinking and feeling patterns, these are two separate and distinct concepts.

    Cognitive biases are common across humankind and relate to the particular wiring of our brains, while unconscious bias relates to perceptions between different groups and are specific for the society in which we live. For example, I bet you don’t care or even think about whether someone is a noble or a commoner, yet that distinction was fundamentally important a few centuries ago across Europe. To take another example, most people in the US don’t have strong feelings about Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims, yet this distinction is incredibly meaningful in many parts of the world.

    Unconscious Bias and Discriminatory Behavior

    Organizations often bring me in as a speaker on diversity and inclusion to address potential unconscious discriminatory behavior. When I share in speeches that black Americans suffer from police harassment and violence at a much higher rate than white people, some participants (usually white) occasionally try to defend the police by claiming that black people are more violent and likely to break the law than whites. They thus attribute police harassment to the internal characteristics of black people (implying that it is deserved), and not to the external context of police behavior.

    In reality – as I point out in my response to these folks – research shows that black people are harassed and harmed by police at a much higher rate for the same kind of activity. A white person walking by a cop, for example, is statistically much less likely to be stopped and frisked than a black one[7].

    At the other end of things, a white person resisting arrest is much less likely to be violently beaten than a black one. In other words, statistics show that the higher rate of harassment and violence against black Americans by police is due to the prejudice of the police officers, at least to a large extent[8].

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    However, I am careful to clarify that this discrimination is not necessarily intentional. Sometimes, it indeed is deliberate, with white police officers consciously believing that black Americans deserve much more scrutiny than whites. At other times, the discriminatory behavior results from unconscious, implicit thought processes that the police officer would not consciously endorse[9].

    After becoming aware that unconscious bias does exist, the next step would be learning how to recognize it in order to reduce it. I’ve outlined three crucial points to keep in mind below while further exploring the unconscious prejudice discussed above.

    How to Reduce Unconscious Bias

    Remember these three important points if you want to work on reducing your unconscious bias.

    1. Unconscious Bias is a Systemic Issue

    When we understand that unconscious bias is ultimately a systemic issue, we understand that internal cultures need to be checked and addressed first.

    Interestingly, research shows that many black police officers have an unconscious prejudice against other black people, perceiving them in a more negative light than white people when evaluating potential suspects. This unconscious bias carried by many — not all — black police officers helps show that such prejudices come – at least to a significant extent – from internal cultures within police departments, rather than pre-existing racist attitudes present before someone joins a police department.

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    Such cultures are perpetuated by internal norms, policies, and training procedures, and any police department wishing to address unconscious bias needs to address internal culture first and foremost, rather than attributing racism to individual officers.

    In other words, instead of saying it’s a few bad apples in a barrel of overall good ones, the key is recognizing that unconscious bias is a systemic issue, and the structure and joints of the barrel needs to be fixed[10].

    2. There Is No Shame in Unconscious Bias

    Another crucial thing that needs to be highlighted is that there is no shame or blame in unconscious bias as it’s not stemming from any fault in the individual. This no-shame approach decreases the fight, freeze, or flight defensive response among reluctant audiences, helping them hear and accept the issue.

    Unconscious bias is prevalent and often doesn’t match our conscious values. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs and prejudices stemming from our tendency to categorize people into social groups. This developed naturally as a way for our ancestors to quickly size up a possible threat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate well in modern life.

    3. It Takes a Sustained Effort to Prevent and Protect Against Unconscious Bias

    After being presented with additional statistics and discussion of unconscious bias, the issue is generally settled. Still, from their subsequent behavior it’s clear that some of these audience members don’t immediately internalize this evidence. It’s much more comforting for their gut reactions to believe that police officers are right and anyone targeted by police deserves it; in turn, they are highly reluctant to accept the need to focus more efforts and energy on protecting black Americans from police violence due to the structural challenges facing these groups.

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    The issue of unconscious bias doesn’t match their intuitions, so they reject this concept, despite extensive and strong evidence for its pervasive role in policing. It takes a series of subsequent follow-up conversations and interventions to move the needle. A single training is almost never sufficient, both in my experience and according to research[11].

    Conclusion

    The examples and points raised illustrate broader patterns you need to follow to recognize unconscious bias. Only by doing so will you be able to determine if, and what type of, intervention is needed to address it.

    Unfortunately, our gut reactions lead us to make poor judgment choices when we simply follow our intuitions. Unconscious biases are systemic and need to be addressed in order to make the best decisions[12].

    We need to learn about the kind of problems that result from unconscious bias. Then, you need to develop the right mental habits to help you make the best choices[13]. A one-time training is insufficient for doing so. It takes a long-term commitment and constant discipline and efforts to overcome unconscious bias, so get started now.

    More Tips on Overcoming Unconscious Bias

    Featured photo credit: M.T ElGassier via unsplash.com

    Reference

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