January 10, 2017
Joe Fairless

Four-Step Formula To Cultivate a Leadership Mentality

“An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.” – African Proverb

How do you become an outstanding leader, transforming from a gentle sheep into a ferocious lion? Best ever guest Ryan Michler has create a blog and a podcast that is dedicated to uncovering the principles that lead to this transformation.

Ryan believes the core tenant for being a successful man (or woman) is leading. In out recent conversation, he explained the ins-and-outs of being a leader, and what you can practically do in order to cultivate the leader mentality.

The Foundational Quality of a Leader

Ryan believes that the most important approach and foundation of leadership is full-ownership. This means full ownership of everything in life. Not just the things we are in direct control of, but literally everything – every outcome, every thought, every idea, every choice, and every experience. When defined this way, we quickly realize how difficult and rare this mentality is.

Ryan says, “what’s really fascinating to me and almost sad and disturbing is we are so quick as a society to pass the buck. ‘It’s somebody else’s fault’ or ‘the economy went bad’ or ‘I don’t have the right employees’ or ‘this contractor that I’m working with didn’t necessarily get the job done on schedule.’ We pass all this responsibility. What’s sad is when we do this, what we end up doing is we give away any of our power that we actually had to do anything about it.”

By not taking responsibility for everything, by default, we lose the power to do anything about it, which puts us in a position of weakness, as opposed to a position of strength. It is a very difficult, and even painful concept to accept, especially in real estate investing. There are so many people involved in the process, from real estate agents, to investors, to banks, to contractors, to sub-contractors and more, that it is extremely easy to rationalize the blaming of others. But according to Ryan, “the more you can take responsibilities for your choices, the better off you’re going to be.”

The Paradox of Responsibility

The outcome of taking or not taking responsibility is extremely counterintuitive. It is hard to see how blaming others, especially when we feel it is obviously someone else’s fault, and passing the buck puts us in a position of weakness. However, Ryan states, “I think the reason we don’t think of it that way is because the reason we are afraid of taking responsibility in the first place is coming form a position of pride. It’s arrogance. It’s ego. If I did it wrong, that [means] less of me as a human being. It’s less of me as an investor…We try to defend and protect our pride and our ego when in all reality, it’s doing more harm than it is good when you are saying, ‘oh, it is that guys fault,’ instead of saying ‘this was my fault.’”

Essentially, we fear taking full-ownership because we perceive it will put us in a position of weakness; yet not taking full-ownership is definitely putting us in a position of weakness. It seems like a lose-lose, but Ryan says, “what’s fascinating to me is when you go to work on yourself – you take full responsibility, you take charge of your health, your wealth, all the relationships you have, what you do to uplift your soul and your spirituality – that’s when people start responding. But they do it on their own, not because you’re manipulating or coercing them to do something.”

Taking Full Ownership in Practice

First, it is important to realize that reading a blog post about taking full ownership isn’t going to transform you into the Lebron James of leadership. It takes lots and lots of practice! Fortunately for us, Ryan provided a simple formula that can be used on a daily basis, or applied to any project, process, conversation, etc., that helps you cultivate the full-ownership mindset.

Step 1: Examine

“You need to look at your day or look at this project you are about to tackle and you need to figure out “what is it I am trying to accomplish? What do I want to get done? What is the end result? What is the goal here? So many people don’t even think about that.”

“We’re thinking about that now because we are in the beginning of the year, so it’s on everybody’s mind, but we lose that within 30-days of the year and the remaining 11 months, we go at it haphazardly and hope everything works out. This first step is to really examine what you actually want out of the deal, or out of your day, or out of your project, whatever it is you may be working on.”

Step 2: Estimate

“This is where you look at what you have. This is when you look at your assets, your liabilities, what you bring to the table, your strengths, your weaknesses, and you start formulating a plan of action. This is strategy – what am I going to do? Here’s what I want, now how am I actually going to make this work? How am I going to make this a reality? Who are the other people – the players – that I need to bring into this deal so that I can make this profitable for every single person involved.”

Step 3: Execution

“At some point, we have to move into this third step, which is the execution phase, where we just have to do it. We have to act. Even though we might not have everything completely figured out, we drive forward. We do it. We execute to the best of our ability.”

Step 4: Evaluate

This is the most important step…this fourth step is to evaluate what just happened. You examine, you estimate, you execute, and now you’re coming back to evaluate what went on. You’re going to ask yourself five simple questions that are going to help you be more mindful.”

The questions are:

  • What did I get done? (What did I accomplish?)
  • What didn’t I get done? (I set out to do something but did I miss the mark?)
  • What did I do well?
  • What did I not do so well? (What can I improve?)
  • What am I going to do better moving forward?

Answering these questions, whether it’s at the end of the day, the end of a month, at the end of a deal, or whenever it happens to be, is going to help you put the responsibility on your shoulders, which is where it belongs and is the most powerful position.


The foundational quality of a leader is full ownership, as opposed to blaming others or “passing the buck,” which puts us in a position of weakness. That means focusing more on improving ourselves and taking charge of all aspects of our lives.

When it comes to real estate investing, we need to consistently practice focusing on what we can do better, rather than being complacent, repeating the same mistakes, or blaming others (the agent, the broker, the contractor, the economy, etc.). For cultivating full ownership, Ryan provided a simple formula to apply to any project, real estate related or in general:

  1. Examine – figure out what you are trying to accomplish
  2. Estimate – formulate a plan of action
  3. Execution – take action on your plan to the best of your ability
  4. Evaluate – conduct a post-mortem

During the evaluate phase, which I plan on applying to all my deals moving forward, brainstorm answers to the following questions:

  • What did I get done?
  • What didn’t I get done?
  • What did I do well?
  • What did I not do so well?
  • What am I going to do better moving forward?

Question: What will you apply the 4 step formula to in the upcoming year?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.

Facebook twitter pinterest linkedin 
Share this: