DAVID LALLY: Welcome to The Brian Buffini Show, where we explore the mindsets, motivation, and methodologies of success. My name is David Lally, producer of the show. Whatever you might be experiencing today, this episode should give you great hope and encouragement for the future. What you’re going to hear is a list of challenges the Buffini family faced one after another. I had a front-row seat to each of these events, any one of which could have destroyed a person or a family. I watched Brian and Beverly handle a series of crises in a way that made their relationship better, their family stronger and ultimately led to years of prosperity in their business and in their lives. I think it’ll be very helpful, and I hope you enjoy it.
BRIAN BUFFINI: Well, the top of the morning to you. Welcome to The Brian Buffini Show. I have a helpful message for you here today. It’s entitled Lessons from the Ashes. What this is all about is how do you come back after experiencing a trial, a setback, a difficulty or a series of trials? I want to share with you a little bit of my own story in a season I went through. A season of trial that lasted about 18 months. Out of that came some of the best things in my life and some of the best circumstances and a chance to recalibrate.
I want to talk to you about that today. Maybe you’re in the middle of a trial right now, maybe you’re in a series of trials, maybe it’s like nothing is getting right. You have gotten a bad diagnosis, a family member’s gotten a bad diagnosis. You have ailing parents, maybe a kid that’s off the rails, a business that’s struggling, financial mistakes made. Maybe you have relationships in crisis. There’s just so many different trials for the human condition. There’s just many, many people, I’m sure, who are and have experienced things that I can’t even imagine. The loss of a child or the death of a spouse, just so many different things.
I’m going to speak to you today about the other side of the trials and how to keep your head up and how to keep moving on in the midst of the trial. I’m going to speak to you as transparently as I can. For me, I got the chance to hear Frank Sinatra near the end of his life sing “My Way.” He wasn’t at his crooning best. He was an aged star. He was within 18 months of passing but that had nothing to do with it. I don’t know that the man could have ever sung that song better. The reason being is that when Frank Sinatra sang “My Way,” you knew he had lived an awful lot of life. When he sang the words, it resonated at such a deep level and people were just weeping, not just at the familiarity of a famous singer singing one of his stock hits, the dynamic of connecting with the trials and the tribulations of life.
When Ol’ Blue Eyes sang that song everyone in that room knew that man had lived the life and a huge life behind it with all kinds of ups and downs. That’s where the emotion was. I’m going to give you my version of Ol’ Blue Eyes here for a second. I’ve been through many things in my life. I’ll be honest with you, I’m a big fan of Winston Churchill. He said, “Success is gone from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
I have taken a lot of lumps and my brothers used to call me Chumbawamba. There was a song they sang, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, because you’re never going to keep me down.” I’ve always been that guy. When I was a kid, my favorite movie was Cool Hand Luke because no matter what you did to Cool Hand Luke you couldn’t get him to quit. You couldn’t get him to give up or as the prison system would say, “Get your mind right.”
Perseverance has been a hallmark for me for a long time. Having said that, they say, “Whatever you do don’t pray for patience because God might try to test you in that.” I had an 18 month period of time with my bride in life where it just came at us from every angle you can imagine. Obviously, we’re the largest coaching and training company for real estate agents. We had a giant worldwide economic meltdown centered in real estate.
Well, Buffini & Company knew there was a recession and it was a deep recession a year before Wall Street did because we were seeing it in the lives and the businesses of the people we were coaching. We had 400 employees. This recession was centered in real estate. For a lot of people when they think about the Great Recession and they think about real estate they go, “Oh, man real estate values dropped 30 to 35% and that was the crisis. There was a mortgage crisis and all that stuff.” Well, let me say to you my business works in the area where agents are being productive. We got to help agents be productive, and when agents are productive then they pay for our coaching and our training programs and so on and so forth.
Half the agents left the business. Of those that were left, they were making about half what they used to make. All told, the real estate market went down 30 to 35%, but the real estate agent income which is where Buffini & Company serves as an industry went down 80%. 80% in a major industry is cataclysmic. We had 27 competitors at the time of going into the recession. When we came out there was us and one other company left standing. We had to go through a brutal time of letting staff go.
I’m talking about when people come to work at Buffini & Company they fall in love with the mission, they fall in love with the culture. A lot of folks refer their family and friends, and it’s very hard to get hired in this place. When we would let somebody go it was like letting a family member go. We went from 400 employees down to 112 employees. You talk about laying off 280 people who feel like family, that was excruciating.
My own economics in order to keep the doors open, I sold $40 million worth of my own family’s personal real estate to get the money to keep the doors open at Buffini & Company. Our industry was in free fall, our business was in freefall, our staff went through freefall, then I went through a financial freefall keeping the doors open. Wait, there’s more. My family of origin went through a major spat. Now, that’s not really headline news, Irish families by nature put the fun in dysfunction. Nobody knows how to fight and hold a grudge like an Irishman, but that was going on at the same time.
I was experiencing what I never experienced before. It caused a health crisis. I ended up having 18 inches of my colon removed, all stress-related digestive problems. There was a whole host of other things that went on, but to top it off then there was a fire. My wife and kids, we had six kids under the age of 12 at the time, we took a vacation to Hawaii and then came back to Chicago. We were hanging out with my good friend Joe Niego and his family. Then we’re guest of Lou Holtz to go to Notre Dame. Notre Dame was bringing this statue in for Lou Holtz. I was involved in helping get the statute done for Lou and it was a great deal. He hosted us and we’re out there at this game.
We fly in, we get in real late at night. We’d been on the road for two weeks and unbeknownst to us, the October Santa Ana winds had been blowing brush and drying out all the ground and drying out everything. We had a 12,000 square foot Georgia plantation-style home. The name of it when the agent sold it was called the Western White House. It was a white wooden home. It was beautiful but it had six balconies with basically the greatest kindling for a fire you ever saw.
We get in late at night. I got six little kids. Bev and I load them in, we get to sleep and we didn’t even know there were fires in Southern California and they were coming fast and the Santa Anas were blowing. We got a phone call at 2:30 in the morning, “Hey reverse 9-1-1 automatic call, there’s a fire in your area. Be prepared to evacuate.” Well, I had heard that call before but we were in an area that there’d never been a fire, near the Wild Animal Park in San Diego. Five minutes later, there’s two fire trucks down the end of our driveway pushing the button going, “You guys need to leave in the next five minutes.”
If you can imagine taking six kids out of a dead sleep and putting them into cars and this and that and any other whatever else, that’s what we did. We left everything. We left with the shirts on our back. We still didn’t think our house was in danger, but we wanted to obey the fire department and we had six young kids. We headed out that day. We got in one car and left everything, except with the shirts on our backs.
Truth be told the fire came and it consumed that house. There were metal beams inside that house that takes like 1,300, 1,400 degrees to melt and they were melted, gone. There was nothing left. The ironic story is I had one commissioned statue in my backyard right by my house of the statue of Job, one of my favorite characters in the Bible. A guy who’d been through a bunch of tough times. Around it was a saying in Hebrew, “I’m reduced to dust and ashes.” Maybe some other day I’ll give you a whole story about that statute. What’s wild is the insurance adjuster said, “It looked like a bomb hit it.” He was from New York and he was just like, “A bomb hit your house.” The house was gone, the sidewalks were gone, everything was gone, reduced to ashes except that statue of Job, which sits outside my current home today. Basically a partridge in a pear tree and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We went through this whole thing and it didn’t get any better.
It didn’t get any better because we had to move the six kids. We stayed in a hotel for six weeks. In fact, we were staying at La Costa Resort & Spa where Bev and I are members. When we left the manager said, “Mr. Buffini, we hate to lose you but a rock band is moving in next week and we’re looking forward to it because it’s going to be a lot quieter around here than your family.” It was crazy.
We moved into a rental house and paid $10,000 a month to rent that house. One day I’m on the road speaking, I get a call from Beverly, “Someone knocked at the door. This house has been foreclosed on. We have three days to move.” We were paying $10,000 a month. The guy wasn’t paying his mortgage because there was a worldwide recession. We ended up having to move six times with our family of eight over the next 18 months.
That season was just one big giant season of trial. Now, like I said, the hundreds of thousands of people listening to this call today, many of you have been through an awful lot worse time than that. What I will say is as a guy who is a lifelong student and a guy who wants to learn from experience and then pass on anything I learned that’s benefited me, I learned a lot during that period of time. That’s what this is about. That’s what these lessons are about, these lessons from the ashes.
You go through a period of time like that, there’s a lot of different ways to deal with it. There’s booze, alcohol, you can check out into anything you want. There’s drugs, people have affairs, there’s this and that. People can go in any one of a hundred different directions in dealing with this kind of a trial or series of trials. For me, I knew I had the blessing of having that Job statue sitting in my yard and I felt like, The Color Purple, God is trying to tell you something. That was the song they sang and I was like, “Maybe God’s trying to tell me something and it’s time for me to listen.”
Here’s what I got from it. Whatever this helps you with or this can use to be helping a friend or gives you a word of encouragement today that’ll be this. I have three things that I got from the fire. I probably got more, but I’m going to tell you it’s three because three is what you can remember and that’s my format and that’s what we’re going to talk about. The three lessons I have for you are: Number one, the refining fire, number two, new beginnings and number three, I’ll say what I learned, which is to simplify my life, and I’ll share for you to simplify your life.
The refining, fire, new beginnings, and simplifying my life. First and foremost, the refining fire. One of the things we use to describe a refining fire is the dynamic of a crucible. A crucible is a ceramic or a metal container in which metals or other substances are melted after being on a very high heat. For example, you’ve seen a smelter or things like that, “The gold is refined in the crucible,” they talk about. The crucible is also a reference to a situation of severe trial in which different elements interact leading to the creation of something new. Isn’t that kind of magic? This is one of the ways to look at difficulties and setbacks. I believe this, I think you either get humble or you get humbled. When the crap happens and when this stuff comes at you, or when patterns arise over and over again, you either get humble and learn from them or you’re going to be humbled and bad things are coming your way.
The crucible itself, just this ceramic container, right? They heat it. It can go from anywhere from 1,000 to 2,900 degrees. The house fire, they said for me it was about 1,300 degrees to melt the high beams. Gold requires about 2,000 degrees. Now this is important, you can think about this. What separates 14 karat gold from 18 karat gold to 24 karat gold is the purer the gold, the more valuable it is. How does gold become purer? How does it become more valuable? Is that it’s put in the crucible and put under this intense heat. How do we become more valuable as human beings? Is that through these trials and through the intense heat of life, the impurities get burned off.
Sometimes we can replace those impurities with other impurities. Don’t ask me theologically for all of this. I met the great Thomas Keating years ago who was the guy who, in the Catholic tradition basically brought to life contemplative prayer from the 1400s and he brought it to life here in Snowmass, Colorado in the last 40 years and is a very influential, brilliant guy and basically introduced and reintroduced a form of Christian meditation to the world.
I was a part of a Q&A session with him one time and he was asked, “Where do you go with God and God’s sovereignty and God being good and all of these great tragedies that happen in difficult things that happens?” He said, “I don’t really have answers for all of this, but I can tell you this. Somewhere inside the infinite love of God is a place for suffering.” It doesn’t explain everything, but it does explain some part of that. It does help a lot. People say this, “There’s a reason for everything. Nothing happens by accident.” In these difficult circumstances, many times that is the case and many times it’s helping us to become purer, more valuable.
Like you say, 24 karat gold has been put in the heat. You take 18 karat gold you throw it in a crucible and you reheat it to 2,000 degrees and now the last imperfections come out of that gold and it becomes 25% more valuable. That’s why we get older in life, you get a lot of experiences and some of the experiences are the things you don’t want, but you’re back in the crucible. It gives you a chance to be pure.
Now, it also gives you a chance to be bitter and brutal. Joe Niego and I have traveled an awful lot and Joe says to me one time, “I don’t want to be the angry old white guy in first class.” It doesn’t mean that everyone in first class is an angry old white guy, but on occasion, you’ll see him. This is the person who’s had the experiences, but instead of improving and getting refined and being better, they become more cynical and more crabby and more complaining about everything. They complain about the wine, they complain about the drinks, they complain about the food, they complain about the temperature, they complain about the turbulence, they complain about everything. Then they complain about you sitting next to them, or you get into a conversation with them and they start complaining.
Here’s the thing, that person’s been in a crucible, but every time they’ve gotten burned, they’ve added back in impurities. Instead of becoming more valuable, they become less valuable. Less valuable to their family, their friends, their customers, less valuable to society. Certainly less valuable to the poor flight attendants that have to put up with them. Joe is always thinking, “I don’t want to be the angry old white guy.” It’s good stuff.
Wintley Phipps, the greatest, just the most amazing singer, we’ve had him at our events many times. If you ever get a chance, look up Wintley Phipps, he sings “Amazing Grace” and I think it’s one of the most-watched YouTube videos of all time, absolutely incredible. He had a statement he made at our Mastermind Summit that said, “It is in the quiet crucible of your personal private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given.” Very, very powerful. First of all, we have the crucible, the second part about the refining fire is there’s the heat. The heat is uncomfortable, you can’t always control it, and it exposes and shows the weaknesses. That’s okay, it’s just part of the deal.
The Great British theologian Charles Haddon Spurgeon says, “Trials teach us what we are, they dig up the soil, and they let us see what we’re made of.” James Allen as As a Man Thinketh which you know I’m a big fan of, in his book, he said, “Circumstances do not make the man they reveal him.” That’s the fire itself. We have the crucible, we have the heat and then you have the refining process itself. When you’re going through the refining process, here’s the first thing to know, impurities rise to the surface. So what happens under stress, our short-term shortcomings come out.
If you’re a short-tempered person, you’ll be short-tempered, if you’re prone to anger, you’ll be angry, if you’re prone to isolation and cutting people off, you’ll be more isolated and cut more people off. Whatever your predisposition is, when we get into the refining process, the impurities rise to the surface. The second thing is that impurities in gold doesn’t hurt the gold but the removing impurities in the human heart, that hurts. It’s the kind of personal growth that nobody wants. Everybody wants to sign on for, “Brian what book should I read? I want to listen to this podcast get fired up, what seminar do I go to?” The real growth often happens is when the sucky stuff is going on and we’re growing in the areas we don’t want to grow in. It’s not our favorite subject in school if you know what I mean.
Then lastly, like I said, 24 karat gold, here’s the good news:
24 karat gold is 99% pure. It’s not 100% pure. The job is never done. The perfection is never reached. In the refining fire, we have the crucible, the heat and the refining process itself. We do all kinds of research here at Buffini & Company. We’ll quote somebody who’s on the news today and we’ll quote a Greek philosopher from a couple thousand years ago. A famous Greek philosopher named Epictetus said this, “When you actively engage in gradually refining yourself, you retreat from your lazy ways of covering yourself or making excuses. Instead of feeling a persistent current of low-level shame, you move forward by using the creative possibilities of this moment, your current situation.” Awesome stuff.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m under the gun, I start making excuses and then when we know we’re not at our best and we’re not doing our best things or we’re not reacting the best way, we feel this low level of shame or regret. We get to move forward by the creative possibilities of this moment. Your current situation. Think about it. It’s 2,000 years ago. Believe it or not, this is before Instagram. Believe it or not, this is before the 24-hour news cycle. Guess what? The human condition hasn’t really changed in thousands of years. It’s the same. People struggled with stuff back then that they’re struggling with now. Profound stuff. The refining fire that all of us have felt and the longer you’ll be on this planet, the more refining you’ll get. The crucible, the heat and the refining process itself.
Let’s talk about this second lesson from the ashes, which is new beginnings. When you go through the fire, when everything turns upside down, there’s a chance for some new beginnings. One of the very encouraging things and it wasn’t just because it was a fire, but was the mentality of, December 10th, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. 10 buildings in the legendary inventor Thomas Edison’s plant, which made up more than half of the site were engulfed in flames. Almost eight fire departments were on the scene, the entire fire departments, but this was a chemical fueled inferno and it was just too powerful to be put out. It was just burned to the ground.
Now, think about Edison. This is the guy — In our world today, you’re talking about 1914, a hundred years later the phonograph, how we listen to music, motion pictures, how we’re watching movies, the light bulb, on and on. He had 875 patents. How many things were in all of these buildings that burned up? How many inventions, how many near to completion inventions? How many patents? How many all these things that he had been working on? By the way, I’m going to give you the quote and then I’m going to give you my perspective on the quote, “Thank goodness all of our mistakes were burned up. Now, we can start fresh again.”
Let me just do this for a second because this is where the motivational speakers, self-help books in the airport are full of bull sometimes. That’s not the first thing Thomas Edison felt. As a guy that had his house burned down, that ain’t the first thing I thought about. Here, I’ll give you one example. On my street, I was the only house that burned down. In my neighborhood, I was the only house that burned down. I drove out of my neighborhood every day and I drive past all these houses and I didn’t wish bad on anyone else, but I looked up to the heavens to go, “Why in the hell did my house burn down and these not?” Then the fire jumped over the freeway and it burned somebody else’s house and it didn’t burn the house next to it and it seemed extremely capricious.
I didn’t shake my fist in the air and say, “Why me, God?” and I didn’t have that degree. I just want you to know this because sometimes the history and the editing process it’s different than it was. What happens is the motivational speaker or whatever and I’m one of those, says, “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now, we can start fresh again.” I guarantee, I’ll bet you every dollar I have in my life, that’s not the first freaking thing that Thomas Edison said. The reason why I’m bringing that up is that we often have this other standard of how other people deal with stuff and so on and so forth. That’s the conclusion he came to. That’s what he learned.
I will say this, for me, it took me 18 months to embrace that. While I was busy doing this and doing that and whatever else, it took me 18 months. This might’ve been a quote much later in Edison’s life. When we hear the story and we hear the quote, what happens is people incriminate themselves. “Well, that’s not what I’m thinking. Something must be wrong with me or I’m weak,” or, “I’m not this,” or “I’m not that.” Just so you know, that’s the story that’s told and the story is true, but it’s not the whole story.
Here’s the fresh start approach. Things have gone sideways, things have gone upside down. The number one thing you’re faced with is a choice. There’s a choice and there’s a choice on how you look at things, how you think of things and then how you act. For example, one of the most prized possessions in our family — we lost stuff that is heirlooms. We lost stuff that is without any price. My grandfather became a US citizen 75 years to the exact day that I became a US citizen. February 22, 2002, for me and his was February 22, 75 years to the day with the exact same form, by the way, the form is identical. My dad gave me this. I had mine and I had my grandfather’s next to one another. That went away and it can’t be replaced and I can’t get the records and this and that and the other.
We lost stuff my mother gave me from her mother, things that Beverly had from her All-American stuff. She had six suitcases set up for each one of our kids with all of these shoes and shirts and hats and sweat tops and this and any other from her Olympic experience and things that were saved for them to give to them one day. I had journaled every single day of my life. Every single day of my life, I’d journaled for 22 years and I saved them in this cedar chest at the end of my desk. It was gone. It was gone. I planned on leaving that to my kids. I also went back and revisit all the time.
Of all the things I’m talking about, the thing that was probably most precious to me and Beverly was our collection of books. When we moved into that house, the moving company gave us one bid for our furniture and the second bid for our books. We had an entire thousand square foot basement which is unheard of in California. It was behind this huge bookshelf and you spun the bookshelf around like a secret compartment in a Harry Potter movie. There was a spiral stone staircase down to what was called Kids’ Kingdom.
In that Kids’ Kingdom were thousands of books. Then I had my own library, floor to ceiling library with a ladder that went around. Beverly in her office, same thing with a ladder that went around. Every book we had was gone. All of our notes in there, all of our things in there, everything. A way to look at this as a choice is when we built our new house we built a very nice home. Not a lot of wood on the exterior, if you get my drift. Beverly had a huge library and I had a huge library, and we had no books. On the first day it’d kind of take your breath away.
One of the ways to look at this is and the way I framed this for Beverly was this, “Guess what? We get to start over.” We get to go buy a book that was one of our favorites, read it again as if new, and then put it on the bookshelf. I got to tell you, it was one of the most joyous things in my life to start over again, and read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and read the book again. By the way, after 18 months in the crucible, I got things out of that book I had never gotten before and I had read that book 10 or 15 times.
I read “The Richest Man in Babylon,” and I read it again and I’ve taught it and the hundreds of thousands of copies I’ve helped sell of that book, I read it again, and it was like the first time I’d ever read it. Bit by bit by bit, all of these different things. Now, we didn’t get to replace all of what we have. My wife loves to study theology. We had original writings from Puritan authors and this and that and the other and one of a kind books that disappeared.
We never fully replaced what we had, but we made the choice to begin the new. Today in our home and we have all the books — every book on the shelf in my home and in my office and in Beverly’s office is there by choice. It’s been read and it was rediscovered again. There was actually kind of a blessing in all of that in a big way. The great Og Mandino said, “Today I begin a new life. Today I shed my old skin, which had too long suffered the bruises of failure and the wounds of mediocrity.”
When you go under the gun, you get into the fire, all hell breaks loose. One of the things you get to do, all the mistakes are burned up. Let’s start over. That can happen in a relationship. That can happen in a business. That can happen in finances. That can happen in health. That can happen in your attitudes. It can happen in anything. We have to believe that change is possible. We have to.
Perseverance is a big part of the fresh start and here’s why. You can have all the platitudes and whatever else, but you still find yourself in a sucky situation. It took us weeks and weeks and weeks to make a list of all the things we needed to get and needed to replace. Imagine big home, all this stuff, homeschooled our kids and you got nothing. I remember the first time we went to Costco, we rented two Suburbans because our cars all burned down as well.
We went in and if you can picture those big metal trolleys with just the rail on the front and it’s wide open. I had one that was stacked about four feet high and then I had another one. I’m pushing one and pulling the other. Beverly’s pushing one and pulling the other. We had no towels, we had no cups, we had no napkins, we had no underwear, we had no socks, no shoes. Got six kids, boom, load up the Suburbans, go through that little security checkout at Costco. Load up the Suburbans, go.
We made a trip over a weekend three times where we carried four giant pallets of products out of Costco. The last time we were going through, the security guy who’d been there for the two days looks at me and goes, “Is everything okay? You know you don’t have to buy it all today?” I went, “Oh dude, we lost our house in the fire.” It was good to make him feel like a schmuck. It was great.
The bottom line is we made a list of things to do and I stopped that list when I reached the 700th item. I counted up and we had 700 things to do and some of them were like, “Cancel our home insurance buy a car, buy clothes, get a suit to go present on stage with, get your marriage licenses, get your birth certificates, get a passport.” You can’t even imagine. It was years and years would go by and we’d go, “I need that. Oh no, we don’t have that anymore. Oh, I need that.”
The perseverance is you feel overwhelmed. There’s a gazillion things to do and no matter what you’re dealing with in your life and you go through a trial and life goes upside down. Maybe you’ve been through a divorce and you’ve moved into an apartment and you’re starting over and it’s just overwhelming. Maybe you screwed up financially and you’re starting over. Who knows? Maybe you didn’t screw up, but it happened to you anyway and you’re overwhelmed. Well, you make your list and then as Og Mandino said in “The Greatest Salesman,” “I will persist until I succeed.”
John D. Rockefeller, who was the wealthiest American who ever lived, said, “I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind, as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” When I read that quote, my excuses went out the window because I didn’t have control over a wildfire. It was a bummer that he put “Even nature” in there because it took away my last excuse. Martin Luther King said it this way “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
Last but not least in the fresh start is just don’t put things off.
Life is short. Not so long ago, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, along with a number of other people, lost their life in a tragic helicopter crash. I have no idea, but it’s one of those seminal moments. It was a Sunday morning, it was quiet. He’s a famous guy, he’s a basketball player, he has his beautiful little daughter he doted on, but for whatever reason, sometimes in life things just cut through. Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi’s death seemed to just strike a nerve. A deep nerve, far beyond perhaps the timing of it all and what it was. Maybe it was on a different day or a different news cycle or whatever else, but on the day it happened and the way it happened and what happened and the fact that death affects us all — family loved one, a little girl, a superstar cut down in the prime of his life, whatever it was, it was this devastating thing.
I remember hearing Shaquille O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal and him had been great friends and won championships together and then had a bunch of falling out and so on and so forth and in recent years had patched it up and got back together. He’s on TV show and they’re asking him and he’s bawling his eyes out and he goes, “I’ve been working too much. I’ve been spending too much time away from home. I need to spend more time with my kids. I’ve made a lot of money and I don’t know why I get up every day to just keep making money. I give a lot of it away,” and so on and so forth. What hit him? Life is short, life is short.
Life is too short to get caught up in the tragedies of the past. Life is too short to keep entering into a crucible and paying the price multiple times over for the purification you’ve already gone through. General Patton said when it came to war, “I hate paying for the same real estate twice.” What do you mean by that? They just spent a week in battle and overcame 30 miles of the enemy in battle. He didn’t want to give up that ground. That ground had sacrifice in it. That ground had blood in it. That ground had all the trials it took to make that advance and he’s like, “I don’t like paying for the same real estate twice.” Well, that’s why we don’t want to put things off. Life is short. Procrastination is the silent killer. Act now.
In Kobe Bryant’s fire that ultimately ended in tragedy. Shaquille O’Neal and many other people have gotten the wake-up call. Life is short. Michael Jordan who rarely speaks in public, spoke at Kobe Bryant’s Memorial service and with tears streaming down his face. He said at the time, “This is probably going to be a meme I’m going to have to look at for the next three years because of the public world we live in today”. He said, “I have six-year-old girls I need to spend more time with and I’m going to devote myself to”. Sometimes we can learn from somebody else’s fire. Sometimes we can learn from someone else’s tragedy and putting it off and putting off the good life. Nothing good comes from that. Mason Cooley was an American writer said, “Procrastination makes easy things hard and hard things harder.” Wayne Gretzky, the great one they called him, said, “Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of all diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy. “One of my favorite quotes from Og Mandino, he says, “Failures act as if they had a thousand years to live.” He spoke extemporaneously about that because he was speaking transparently because he was throwing his life away. He’d become an alcoholic. He’d been in the fiery furnace, he’d lost a marriage. He’d lost a relationship with his daughter. He had PTSD because of the war and he was throwing his life away and he was about to end his life in suicide and he decided not to. He decided, “I’m not going to be a failure now. I’m going to act. I don’t have a thousand years to live. I’m going to get it now.” Those new beginnings after you come out of the fire, there’s benefits of that fresh start, perseverance, the greatest of all the character qualities, and then don’t put things off.
Last but not least here, the biggest lesson I learned for myself was to simplify my life. By the way, this fire happened 13 years ago. As I’m recording this to you today, I can tell you as I’m sharing this with you, I have managed to simplify my life and then complicate the hell out of it again. What I’m doing is I’m listening to this and preparing for this podcast. I am making commitments myself to simplify my life so I don’t have to have the next fire happen. Get humble or be humbled.
As I’m sharing this information with you, because I lived it, it’s very visceral. It’s very real to me. I simplified my life. By the way, life gets complicated. Life is complicated. The world is complicated. Right now, the world’s bat nuts crazy. Politically socially this and any other– I mean one of my favorite commercials right now is “The world needs a Snickers.” The world is bat nuts crazy. We’re going to do this big giant hole in the air and here’s the Instagrammers falling in and the world has its Snickers in a twist, if you know what I mean.
What we need to do is simplify our lives. What I did then and what I’m doing right now as the guy who’s the Mr. Success talking to you about success, here’s what the exercise I’m doing in the next 90 days. If I were starting over, what would I do? That’s the question. That’s this question on the top of the sheet of paper. If I were starting over, what would I do? What is working right now? It’s very important, when you’re focused on all the crap that’s going on, when we work with our company, we meet with departments. There’s problems.
First thing we do is what’s working? What’s working right? We need to start there. Then it’s what direction do I want to go in and what small steps can I take? That’s a real big deal, to simplify your life. Here’s the question. Give yourself this gift. If you were starting over, what would you choose to do and who would you choose to do it with? What would you choose to do and who would you choose to do it with? Next, what would you remove from your schedule and what would you add? This is the exercise that I’m actually going through and have been going through for the past month and a half with regards to my own business.
Then what habits or routines would you change? What habits or routines would you change? Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new”. What would you do if you were starting over? Maybe you are starting over. Maybe there’s a joy in that, even if there’s pain that got to that place. A good friend of mine got diagnosed with stage four cancer and he’s going through the process and one of the things I’m talking to him about is envisioning and visualizing his new life after he gets to this, after he gets healed, after he gets better. What are you going to live for? What will you do differently and how will you do it? It’s a good time. It’s a good time even in the fire, to think about what you’ll do different.
We talk about what’s working now. You think about what are the relationships that you have now that you can invest more in? What habits or routines can you reinforce? What can we do? Sometimes there’s a fire all around you, but you need to keep going with it. One of my favorite verses is in the book of Galatians, it says, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we will reap if we do not give up.” Very powerful. Those habits, maybe the fire is you’ve had bad habits and those bad habits are killing you. Maybe it’s health or weight or whatever else. Maybe Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” is the book you need to get and look that up, D-U-H-I-G-G, Charles, and it’s “The Power of Habit.”
Lastly, what small steps can you take today? What are the small steps? Here’s a great way to come out of the fire. Make a list of who and what you’re grateful for. Not the fire, not the problems, not the trial, but who and what are you grateful for? Then take small steps. I had a list of 700 things. Here was the most crushing thing, I would have a very productive day, Beverly would have a very productive day, we’d divide and conquer. She got five things done on the list and I’d get six. You think about it, you’ve got 11 things, sometimes major things done in a day. It’s a pretty awesome day except at the end of the day when we had 11 things done, we had 689 to go. You have to celebrate the day for what it is.
We had a formula at the time in our company that we called ‘Win the day.’ We came up with this thing back in the late nineties, ‘Win the day’ trying to coach and train our agents and it ended up going through our seminar cycle. Other people picked it up. It ended up as part of slogans for universities, like the University of Oregon, Nike got involved, all these things. I was like, “I don’t care. Knock yourself out,” but win the day. We’ve been talking about the Win the day formula as a guide to help the people we coach in business to be successful for 25 years. All of a sudden I got a chance to live it myself so, win the day.
Then the last thing is build on your momentum. Momentum is a powerful thing. Old Man Mo, I call it. You need to have it. You need to get it. Any kind of momentum at all. Let’s say somebody is $100,000 in debt. I was in Seattle here a few weeks ago. We have one of our clients, Jo-Ann Zebrowski, a fantastic story. She was $150,000 in credit card debt when we started and today she one of the most successful agents in the United States and pulling down seven figures a year and doing remarkable things. You know what we did with Jo-Ann? Said, “Okay, let’s see if you can make a payment. Let’s see if you can make a minimum payment. Let’s say if you can pay down $1,000.” Every time there was a celebration and a woo-hoo. Then, “Let’s see if you can pay down $2,000. Let’s see if you can pay down $5,000.” Within a couple of years, she was debt-free. Within a couple of years, she was a millionaire. Within a couple of years after that, now she’s a mentor and an influencer that has a great team and she’s great in the community.
Last year I was sharing her story from stage. She says, “I’m going to go to every one of the events out there so I can be of value to the people coming to the event who may be going through a hard time.” She came all over the country and traveled all over North America to make herself available to talk to people because when we share her story and then say, “She’s right here.” She would get swamped by people just to make herself valuable and to be available. Powerful stuff.
We talked in this part to hear is simplifying your life. Look at it as if you were starting over, what would you do? Make sure you focus on what’s working now and then what are the small steps you can take? What did we cover today? The lessons from the ashes, the refining fire, those new beginnings and ultimately simplifying your life. Sometimes we can learn from somebody else’s fire. Kobe and Gigi’s passing. Someone you know getting the bad diagnosis, someone you know going through a trial. It always brings and it always should bring us back to what’s important and why life is short.
What I’ll say to you and what I’ve said many times before, if I knew all the good that would come from that season of life, I’d have set fire to the house myself. I would have taken the videos of the kids when they were small. I would have kept my grandfather’s citizenship documents and I’d kept a few other little things here and there, but if I knew all the good that would’ve come out of what came out of that season and ultimately accumulated in that fire, I would have set the house on fire myself. My family came away from that fire as close, connected, completely unattached to materialism.
My kids flew on a private jet 17 years of their life. You know what? They’re absolutely delighted when they sit on a double-decker bus in Dublin going to visit their grandma. They’re delighted to sleep on the floor because grandma’s tiny little house doesn’t have any room. They’re as delighted, they’re connected. We went from a 12,000 square foot house to living at one stage in a guest house that was smaller than my house in Ireland and they’re all sleeping on the floor. You know what? Those guys are still thick as thieves. It connected us with a community. It connected us with family like never before.
There were so many lessons I learned. There were so many things we started over. Guess what the blessing is now, as I prepared for this today, it brought me back to that place. Now, that I’m looking at too busy a schedule, with too many demands where a life that needs to get simplified has gotten overwhelmed again, I get to apply the same lessons I learned before without having the next house burn down. Hopefully today there’s something in this message for you. Maybe it’s time to share the podcast with a friend and say, “Here’s this dude. He doesn’t just speak about houses burning down and life turning sideways, but there might be something in here that encourages you.”
We always like to provide something of value. We always are sharing these quotes. The fantastic team here at The Brian Buffini Show have put together this beautiful resource of images and of quotes from the last year of things on the podcast, quotes we’ve had, quotes that’ll encourage, inspire and keep you going. You can download them so that you can print this thing off. Maybe you give this as a gift. Maybe you just have it on a scroll, on a tablet, on your iPad, whatever you’re able to do technologically. We have this little gift for you, a little resource for you today.
I hope you enjoyed today. You can tell in my voice that this message is very personal to me, is very impactful for me. I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes you give it out in slices, it comes back in loaves. Maybe none of you out there will be as impacted today by this podcast as much as I will because I get a chance to learn from these lessons myself in preparing it for you. Like the saying, you give it out and slices, it comes back in loaves. I thank you for tuning in. I hope this has been a blessing to you. I’m going to hand it over to Mr. Lally who’s going to tell you how to go get this nice resource of all these quotes.
Whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re dealing with, I just hope you keep your chin up, keep your hopes up, keep your eyes up, look up, pray up, fellowship up and keep up and you’ll be just fine. Lessons are coming and better days lies ahead. Thanks for joining me today. God bless. It’s been a privilege with you. I’m going to throw it over to you, Mr. Dave.
LALLY: Thanks, Brian. To grab the awesome quote book you heard about, visit the brianbuffinishow.com/insiders. Before I leave today, I wanted to read a listener review from Apple Podcasts. Yologram says, “I have just discovered this podcast and the man is a powerhouse of wisdom, motivation and tools. Over the years of listening to all sorts of podcasts, I have never heard anyone more convincing, more focused and driven to change the course of human life. Your words are a guidepost and a lighthouse.” Wow, powerful stuff. Thanks so much for the feedback and thanks to all of you who tune in. As I sign off today, I leave you with a little Irish blessing from our favorite, Brian’s mom, Therese.
THERESE BUFFINI: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the rain fall soft upon your fields and the sun shine warm upon your face. Until we meet again. May God hold you in the hollow of his hand. See you next time.