Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

The Slow Path to Success

My friend Weslee works in the real estate business. For most people, real estate agents are in the same category as used car salesmen and personal injury lawyers—they are occasionally necessary but rarely trustworthy. Call them if you must, but keep a hand on your wallet.

Weslee is different. That is why he is so successful.

2516424698_49af7874e5_z esther** via Compfight

The Slow Path to Success

During the process of buying a house, you  spend a lot of time in the car with your real estate agent. After a week with Weslee I noticed something: he seems totally uninterested in making money. I know he wants to make money. This is how he provides for his family. But he sure seems not to care about it.

On the other hand, it is clear he wants to get me the best possible deal on my home. He seems to care more about my happiness than his own.

So when he tells me a deal is good, I believe him. I buy the home. Then, I tell all my friends to hire Weslee too. (And, ironically, he makes money.)

When you ask Weslee about his business philosophy, he articulates it this way: treat people how you want to be treated and everything else works out.

It is no surprise that after less than a decade in the business, he owns a successful real estate firm with 20 agents.

Why the Golden Rule Works

Weslee’s secret business philosophy is actually at least 2,000 years old. A Rabbi named Jesus once said, in the middle of his most important speech, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (find it here) You may know this as the Golden Rule.

But even Jesus was referring to a concept that was at least 1000 years older. In the Jewish Torah, God commands his people, “you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” This is an even higher challenge than just doing good to others. You actually have to care about them, to want the best for them, to seek their good.

It is a high bar. But this little secret is one of the most powerful forces in the world.

The world is full of people who want something from you. We treat others like objects. We expend countless energy making sure we get the better end of the deal.

In a world like ours, people who give and serve stand out. You want to do business with them because you trust them. You want to refer your friends to them because you trust them. Trust is rare and, therefore, extremely valuable.

Think about the people you trust. Do they want something from you? Do they spend time with you only because of what they get? No. That’s part of the reason you trust them.

Why the Golden Rule is so Rare

Let’s face the truth,we are impatient and selfish. We care a lot more about ourselves than others.

When I was a kid, my brothers and sisters and I always fought over the biggest piece of the cookie, or chicken, or birthday cake.

“Your piece is bigger than mine!”
“Mom, he got a bigger piece than me!”
“Mooooommm! He locked himself in the bathroom with the whole cookie!!!”

The worst was when we had to tear something in half to split it. If you were the “splitter”, you always made sure that the small piece went to your sibling. But, truthfully, no matter how even the pieces were, someone would complain.

Finally, my mom came up with a new rule: one person splits, the other chooses. After that, cookie splitting involved rulers and protractors. No one wanted the smaller piece.

The Golden Rule challenges us to give the bigger piece away, because that is what we would like someone to do for us. Thinking of others first is hard to do.

We want the bigger piece and we want it NOW. Quick money. Three steps to success. Instant fame. We get fidgety standing in line. We really don’t like waiting.

Serving your way to success is slow.

How can people who are frustrated waiting 45 seconds to heat up a burrito survive the slow path of generosity?

Taking the Golden Path

Change is hard; it takes daily effort. However, all change starts with one choice. If you really want to recalibrate your life around this golden rule, you have to choose the slow way.

Shortcuts are so appealing, but most lead you further from your goal. If you want to start a business, slowly build your client base by treating each customer like she’s the only one. If you want to write a book, do the slow work of a writer. If want to have a great marriage, consistently choose the difficult conversations and fight for time together.

Choose the long-cut.

Next, put the people in your life before the projects in your portfolio. You know the saying, “It’s lonely at the top.” Many times, the top is lonely because you stepped on everyone to get there. What’s more sad than accomplishing great things but having no one with whom to celebrate?

Choose people.

Finally, be generous. Is the bigger half of the cookie really worth the relationship? Serve others and you will stand out. Serve others and you will find a community that gives you more than you could ever give up. Serve others—it is the true way to success and influence.

Choose to serve.

The Golden Rule applies to so many areas of life, not just business. How do you want to apply it this week? Share below in the comments.



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