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5 min read

Executive Letter #31: Fight, Flight, or Freeze

Aug 22, 2022 9:00:00 AM

A while back, one of my readers submitted this to me:

Hey Kent, Loving The Grind! Great to hear your story about what it takes to make it.

Can you please discuss how you got to a certain level in business and froze or couldn't figure out how to get to the next level? What you did to break though the other side?

I seem to be at this point in my career and investments. Would love some pointers on this topic.

I appreciate someone asking for advice when they're at a crossroads. It means that this person wants to do their best but they're questioning whether they can trust their own instincts. I think we can all relate to that feeling. 

When we're faced with a professional dilemma like this, we tend to have one or a combination of reactions: fight, flight, or freeze. Often we don't even know we're having one of those reactions, because our brains are acting the way they are hardwired to, based on thousands of years of survival instinct—only, our brains don't quite register that it's not a lethal threat we're facing, only a challenging decision. 

Because, at the end of the day, that's all we do as businesspeople or investors: make decisions. Over and over and over, hundreds of times a day. Whether to pursue a client or let them go. Whether to invest more heavily in a product that seems to be selling well. Whether to cash out on a property or stick it out a few more years. 

Let's get into how you sharpen those decision-making skills and let your instincts work for you. 

Focus on the Essentials

If a decision comes your way that you're really having trouble with, it's because something in the equation you've been working with is suddenly off balance. Time, liquidity, opportunity: whatever it is, when this happens the answers might not suddenly seem clear.

It's now time to get back to your essentials, and no matter what industry you're in, the essentials are your business, your goals, you, and your team. Don't underestimate how important they are or how easy they are to get off track. Once you get those right, the rest will begin to fall in line. 

Start with yourself and your business. What's your mindset about the situation at hand? If you don't believe you can be successful, you won't be. 

Next, your goals. How does your situation measure up against your ultimate vision? If it's a tangent, and if it's something that will drain your resources to chase, then there's your answer. 

Finally, your team. Do you have trustworthy people around you? Will they be loyal to you if you make a mistake? Will they help you avoid a mistake in the first place? 

When the essentials become stumbling blocks, you'll freak out or feel the urge to run away from what's ahead of you. When you've mastered the essentials, you won't doubt your decision, even if it involves reaching for something that seems impossible.

What Would ______ Do?

There's another strategy you can use to power through a challenging decision, and it's something my reader did by submitting their question to The Grind, whether they realize it or not. 

Get out of your own head. Ask for advice, and if you don't have someone close at hand that you trust, imagine what some of how your favorite businesspeople would advise you. What would Nick Saban do? If I pitched this idea to Mark Cuban, what would he say? 

I can share from personal experience how getting someone else's take on a problem opened up a clear path for me to the solution. 

I've told the story before about the early days of my company, when property management was still a separate business operated in partnership with another prominent businessman. There were a lot of lessons we were learning about how to operate such a company well, but we weren't delivering the kind of experience I wanted our residents to have. It just wasn't possible while maintaining a decent profit. The shit hit the fan when one of my sons came to me and reported the reputation we were starting to get. 

"No one's answering the phone. No one's getting back to our residents when they have a problem. Dad, you got to get this sorted out."

I had a decision to make. I could ignore the negative comments. I could decide that property management wasn't worth it and back out of the partnership. Or, I could direct my focus to property management and take it to the level I'd originally envisioned. 

I went with door #3. I buckled down on acquiring properties to manage until we got to a more profitable stage, eventually ending the partnership so I could bring management services under my company. All the while, I prioritized excellence in our customer service for residents, even before I could technically afford to. 

It paid off. Premier Property Management Group is now an essential and successful piece of the REI Nation enterprise, the way I always hoped it'd be. 

Sometimes the answer can become painfully clear when you look at it from a different perspective.

Commit to The Grind

Trusting your instincts is easier said than done, especially when you're new to your industry. You will come to trust yourself more and more as you make decisions with confidence and resist the urge to freeze or run away when things don't go your way the first time around. 

I hope when that time comes, you'll choose to fight. 

Until next time,

Article Graphics (8)-1

Kent Clothier
Chief Grind Officer


About Kent Clothier

CG5A0010-1Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor, Husband, Dad, and Granddad. Through decades of personal experience, and a few other titles, Kent built a strong community around him at REI Nation. But it didn’t start there. It took 22 years of entrepreneurship – of losing money and making money, building small businesses and multimillion dollar companies alike – before he founded a family business-turned-empire. His sons Kent Jr, Chris, and Brett have worked alongside him, as well as leading successful ventures of their own. Real estate trends, managing towards efficiency, excellent customer service and leading the industry are what fuel him. Over the years, the skills he’s come to value are financial acumen, honesty, and forging new paths in business, investing, and winning.

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