Interaction Helps Make the "Elixir of Success"
If you're in the market to learn, what’s best: content or community?
How do we choose to expose ourselves to new ideas and approaches? How do we value our investment in those areas in terms of lasting change and growth?
The choices are not the same — and yet are complementary.
For most of us, we see content as meetings we join, books we read, conferences or seminars we attend, classes we take, podcasts we listen to — things or places where information is dispensed in a programmed, orderly fashion.
Content can feel efficient. We can choose when to read it, we can go right after what is of interest, and we can often integrate it into our normal rhythms of the business.
Here at National REIA and in our local REIAs, we put a lot of effort and intellectual capital into our multi-day programs, conferences, expos, etc. That is also true for our single-day programs, Saturday sessions, our luncheons, breakfasts and workshops. We give great thought to who we bring as presenters to our monthly meetings so we can support our members and bring them the timely information they need to be successful.
We compress a great deal of information into our programs so they are focused and, well, efficient — a "good use of time." But the content in and of itself is not the magic of our events. It’s the interaction that occurs there that takes information and turns it into the elixir of success, not just information but often builds the confidence to take action – which is the only real way to be successful.
Community, broadly defined, means being in a relationship with other people where our exposure to ideas and perspectives comes through conversations, shared stories and experiences. Our advice or counsel is derived from people who we have come to know and trust – experts and our peers in the industry.
Community — such as being part of a REIA meeting — can feel inefficient. It’s time out of the office, away from the daily demands. We can even find ourselves using the term "being away from work."
Interestingly, though, we hear often and passionately so from REIA members who say if they take one thing away – one thing – from their meetings, it’s worth their time. Arguably it could be seen as a pretty inefficient use of time in terms of being away from being “at work” and yet a great use of time. Valuable. I believe there are several reasons for that view, some obvious, some less so. As Michael Gerber outlined so well in his book The E-Myth, as an owner/entrepreneur your job isn’t to work IN your business but ON your business. Taking time for REIA meetings and taking advantage of all that the REIA community offers is working ON your business.
It's not just the content, it's the story that comes with it. Sharing stories, particularly in the confidential setting of a REIA meeting or subgroup meeting, brings an important dimension to knowledge. It feels more like wisdom. And the awareness of how the knowledge was gained by others gives it credibility — it is already road-tested. The REIA meetings also offer a chance to engage about new ideas, report back on results, and serve as a point of accountability on actions members say they want to take in their business or in their life. Valuable.
The subtler value, though, is simply getting away, creating some space to think and listen differently about the business and your leadership of it. It is a mistake to think that time away from the office is "not working." Part of working, part of leading, is the self-care, the discipline, to stand back from the buzz of the work and hear something different. Join us at the next local REIA meeting to experience the value of learning and connecting in a REIA community.
Rebecca McLean is the Executive Director of National Real Estate Investors Association