James is here to tell us about an evening ritual he uses and writes about in his best selling book. He is also a real estate investor and has advice for investors as well. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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James Colburn Background:
-Worked for more than two decades in executive and entrepreneurial roles in marketing, real estate, and consulting.
-Best selling Author of RESUCCEED revealing the 5-Minute Epic Evening Ritual, tips and tricks of top performers
-Speaks on finding fulfillment and success in real estate with the help of James Colburn’s Epic Evening Ritual
-Known for his real estate team building activities and his epic 5 minute rule
-Say hi to him at http://www.jamescolburn.net/
-Based in Seattle, Washington
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
First off, I hope you’re having a best ever weekend. Because today is Sunday, we’ve got a special segment called Skillset Sunday where we’re gonna talk about a five-minute epic evening ritual that will help us succeed at a higher level. Who’s gonna talk to us about that? James Colburn is gonna talk to us about that. How are you doing, James?
James Colburn: Hey there, thanks Joe for having me on, and just great to be here.
Joe Fairless: Well, I’m glad to have you on, my friend. A little bit about James – he has worked for more than two decades in executive and entrepreneurial roles in marketing, real estate and consulting. He is the best-selling author of Resucceed. In that book he reveals the five-minute epic evening ritual which we’re gonna talk about on today’s show. He’s based in Seattle, Washington. His website is JamesColburn.net, you can go check that out; that’s also on the show notes page. With that being said, James, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your focus?
James Colburn: Well, it’s kind of a big story that I’ll make short. I came out of college at the University of Oregon, met my wife there, and we both started working for the YMCA right out of college; i don’t know if you even know what that organization is, or have you heard–
Joe Fairless: Of course. Yeah, I went to Teen Camp at the YMCA.
James Colburn: Yeah, there you go. So I did as well; in fact, my wife and I both chose the YMCA because of our childhood experiences, and we felt like it’d be a great place to contribute. Everything was great with the YMCA until we looked at starting a family. When we started a family, the non-profit income thing just doesn’t quite work out for raising a family and affording all that that takes… So I went into real estate back in the ’90s, straight away, and never left since.
So that’s kind of the cliff notes, and then a lot happened obviously in my world as our market crashed and clarity arrived, and here I am today.
Joe Fairless: We’re gonna focus our time on this evening ritual, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the real estate stuff, since this is a real estate podcast. And all of it ties together – the evening ritual ties together with real estate investing, but specifically on the real estate front, what did you do? Tell us the story about what happened and what was the result of what happened?
James Colburn: Well, actually the real estate thing ties directly into my 5-minute epic evening ritual that I speak about in my book Resucceed, but I’ll take you back real quick to one of my best years in real estate. I had sold 120 houses up in the Seattle area just with an assistant, and I had made a considerable amount of money. I was at our lake house, which we had by design not put a TV out at the lake house, so lots of time to think… It was Christmas Eve 2006, one of the better years in real estate up in Seattle and in most of the country, and I was trying to make my phone ring one more time that year so I could write one more offer. Not because I needed to do another deal that year, but because I simply had forgotten who I was and had kind of assigned all my identity to my success in real estate.
Joe Fairless: And just so I’m clear, you were an agent, right?
James Colburn: I was an agent at that time, yes.
Joe Fairless: Got it. So you wanted your phone to ring one more time to put an offer on behalf of one of your clients.
James Colburn: Yes, good clarification. So I had [unintelligible [00:05:29].06] I wanted to get to work. The phone didn’t ring; selling 120 houses that year, I was used to the phone ringing about every three days… So I went and left the house right then at [8:30] at night, went down to Costco and bought a TV and a DVD, and brought it back to the house. My wife said, “Well, I thought we weren’t gonna have a TV here at the house.” I said, “Well, we weren’t until I needed to get my mind off the fact that I wasn’t writing another offer.”
Well, that was kind of the beginning of a process that I started then and kind of clarified over the next few years until obviously the market quickly crashed thereafter, and there were certainly a lot less deals to do. I had a lot of time on my hands; I ended up going back to grad school, and then when I came out of grad school, instead of writing a thesis, I wrote this book called Resucceed, which was all my experience on assigning my identity to all the wrong things, but also realizing that I can have even more success – or what I call unlimited success – as I get more clarity around who I am and what I bring. So the five-minute epic evening ritual birthed out of that, but the five-minute epic evening ritual is not a ritual for those looking to not have success, but rather to have even more success in their business, in their investments, but also come out of it feeling whole, not wondering on Christmas Eve, for example, where your next deal is gonna come from.
Joe Fairless: Okay, good segue to dive right in… So what is the five-minute epic evening ritual?
James Colburn: Well, what I realized is that really successful, highly achieved individuals over time basically stop asking great questions; instead, all we spend our time doing is trying to come up with answers. We try to engineer answers; we’re the answer king, if you will. And what we do is we ask a lot less great questions. As achievers we ask questions, but typically they’re questions we know how to answer. What I challenge is that our questions about the things that we don’t have the answer to is really where it’s all at. So as we become interestED, if you will, not interestING for a moment, things start to take shape in our lives.
So the five-minute epic evening ritual is all about the value of asking great questions, and then I’ve created a framework for doing that every evening, just five minutes before you go to sleep.
Joe Fairless: Okay. Please, continue.
James Colburn: Well, I hired a coach who was a best-selling author on Amazon – one of the six best-selling authors on Amazon…
Joe Fairless: One of six…
James Colburn: …best-selling authors.
Joe Fairless: On Amazon? There’s only six best-selling authors on Amazon?
James Colburn: At that time he was one of the top six.
Joe Fairless: Okay. In a certain category, or just in all of Amazon books?
James Colburn: It ended up being in all of Amazon’s self-published books. This gentleman was one of the six at the top. So I hired this guy to help me kind of clarify my book. At one point he challenged me, “This is great. Yeah, we end up becoming enamored by our success, we stop asking great questions, but after you’ve explained this whole thing to me I’m kind of wondering what to do about it. There’s no solution.” He said, “Well, the challenge I have for you is to give people a solution for this”, because this is a real epidemic, if you will, especially with highly achieved, highly successful individuals, where you end up assigning your identity to the thing that you get paid really well for, but then there’s a loss of purpose, if you will.
But yet, at one point in our life – for some it’s mid-life crisis, for others it’s a change in their lifestyle or even their income that promotes this whole need for purpose… The challenge is giving something that they can constructively to do lift out of that. He said, “Is there something you do?” Well, there was, and that was that — years ago, my kids would lay in our bed and practice their flashcards for spelling words, and one of my kids left a pile of 3×5 cards on my nightstand. And typically in the evening, up until that point, I would come up to my room and right before bed I would actually go through my to-do list, which at that time ended up being about 80 items at a time (it was a changing list of about 80 items), and I’d kind of go through my to-do list and circle some key things that I wanted to do the next day, and refer to my calendar, and that’s how I would go to sleep.
But my to-do list wasn’t up there that day, but these 3×5 cards were on my nightstand, and I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if instead of cluttering my mind with all these things that I need to do tomorrow, what if instead on this 3×5 card I just wrote three things to focus on tomorrow?” Then I thought, “Actually, it would be interesting to put myself to bed not by writing three directives down, but instead asking three great questions.”
So all I did is I just took this 3×5 card and on one side I wrote down three questions that I didn’t know the answer to yet, but I was really curious. Things that — and I’ve got examples of these questions, but they’re different for everyone really… Just things that I didn’t have clarity around or areas that I needed to focus on, or opportunities that I had yet to kind of cash in on. Writing those things down and then letting the creative subconscious go to work while I was asleep and also accessed what I call the miraculous. So that is how the five-minute epic ritual started.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, I’m buying what you’re selling on writing down some questions and then thinking about it, and then letting the subconscious just kind of marinate overnight. The challenge – and I’m sure you’ve come across this question often – I have with this is last night, for example, I went to bed around 11, [11:30]; I was still wide awake at 1 AM. Thoughts racing through my head, I was trying to read a book, but after I got done reading the book I still couldn’t fall asleep, and my concern is that if I write down three questions that I don’t have the answer to, that are thought-provoking, as you’ve described, it’s gonna keep me up until the morning.
James Colburn: I think that’s fair, but one of the reasons why you’re staying up – it’s kind of a typical situation – is that you’re thinking about things that you wanna do or have not yet done, rather than surrendering to the fact that you don’t have the answers. You’re actually staying up because you think you need to make the answers arrive. This is working the “sleep on it” muscle, and the difference between me and perhaps you at this point is that I’m working the “sleep on it” muscle seven days a week.
As that improves and as you don’t have to arrive at the answers, that it’s not all about you coming up with them, then all of a sudden you are resetting how you go to sleep and how you actually are excited to let that creative subconscious and the miraculous show up in those answers, rather than you having to do all the heavy lifting. Because when you’re asleep, you actually access different areas of your brain to start reasoning through things, not by kind of past experience, but rather by very creative, far-reaching, out of the box (if you will) approaches that you would never have thought of when you’re awake.
For me it’s surrendering, I guess, to that possibility while I’m speaking, and I speak a little bit in this book about how initially when I talk about this there’s a little bit of woo-woo, like “Oh yeah, right”, and I totally get that, but if you think about it, everyone you meet (or most people that you meet) that are highly achieved or highly successful are the answer king. If you ask a question, they’ll start answering your question halfway through asking it. You just pride yourself, if you will, on coming up with the answers as quick as you possibly can.
What I challenge is that it’s actually asking the questions that you don’t have the answer to and then waiting expectantly for that answer to arrive. That’s when the genius happens.
Joe Fairless: Can you give us some examples of questions?
James Colburn: Well, I broke it down into three Re’s. The book is called Resucceed, so there’s Reassess questions, Reengage questions, and then Reaffirm questions. I’ll give you one example from each of those sections, but just so you and your listeners know, there’s three Re-questions: reassess, reengage and reaffirm, and in each of those sections there’s five chapters on the different types of questions.
On Reassess… For example, one of the things that I’ve realized is that everyone is constantly – including me with my to-do list an evening before the next day, I would constantly be kicking my butt into working out. And what I realized is what I really want the older I get is more energy, so one of my main questions in the reassess category is “How can I manage my energy better tomorrow?” Specific, actionable question around what would give me more energy, because one of the things is if I’m gonna achieve, I’m gonna be successful or if I’m gonna have the tenacity to stick through a project or the tolerance to deal with certain people, in that certain negotiation, or to kind of have the brainpower if you will to kind of reason through the opportunity, I have to manage my energy. So one of my big questions is “How do I manage my energy?”, which by the way, managing your energy might include working out, but what I realized is instead we write “Workout tomorrow” or “Do 30 minutes cardio tomorrow”, but that’s a statement that’s set up to rebel against… Because especially for those who work for themselves, we think “Hey, this is great, we work for ourselves”, but we just rebel against ourselves just as much as a boss.
What I do is I ask the “managing your energy” question every single day, as I’m going to sleep – “How tomorrow can I manage my energy better to have the stamina to deal with the situation by two o’clock?”
Joe Fairless: Do you have a notebook by your bedstand? Because if I were to ask myself that question right before I went to bed and I came up with an answer before I fell asleep, I’d wanna write it down, and then I could see that keeping me up longer.
James Colburn: I love your questions around this, but this is the point – you’re resisting the desire to answer.
Joe Fairless: Even if you have the answer after you ask the question?
James Colburn: No, because the answer you think of — here’s the thing I talk about in this book… When you ask a question, if you’re a highly achieved, highly successful individual, you are already trying to answer it, and by the way, you’re answering it with kind of the “awake” answer. I’m challenging that your amazing answer will come tomorrow, and as you work that kind of “sleep on it” muscle, you sleep more soundly, you wake up excited, and I — actually, I try to wake up one hour before I need to wake up, so I can actually take a look back at my questions on that 3×5 card and see what answers have arrived. The answers that have arrived are often times way different than I ever imagined.
When I was writing this book, I was trying to figure out when I would have complete and total dead time so that I could finish the book. I kept on asking this question, “When can I find complete and total dead time so that I have all the time necessary to finish this book?” One morning I woke up and I realized I was asking the wrong question. What I should be asking is “How can I be so overwhelmed with the responsibility of writing another chapter because of the business of my life and what that reminds me of?”, you know what I mean? Kind of like my busy life, that I’ve designed, because I’m an extremely busy person, right? Why look for dead time, why not just look for moments of brilliance within my busy time? And all of a sudden it became not looking for dead time, but it became looking for like “Oh my gosh, I feel responsible to sit down and write another chapter based on what arrived in the business of my life.”
So it was like asking a different question. It’s sometimes a lot about languaging, and not always about asking specifically something you don’t know, but instead asking it differently.
On a Reengage question, one of the big things that I realized is that real moments of my life in the last couple of years was just this realization that most of us battle with this desire to be enough… So I have this chapter called “Enoughness”, which is where I kind of unpack this concept that sometimes our success and our achievement is often times to somehow prove or to enter or get the kind of membership card into the club of enoughness. And what I like to do is ask some questions around enoughness that challenges me to realize that I’m already enough, and in that enoughness, how can I be incredibly successful?
It’s kind of turning success on its head, because a lot of people I meet, they’re chasing this whole success thing just to be enough. For example me at Christmas Eve 2006, I just wanted to sell another house because that was the only way I knew how to be enough that night. We kind of set up these rules and responsibilities, so I was in charge of going out and making the money, and she was in charge of kind of keeping the home front going, taking care of the kids, at least at that time. We had these really traditional roles, and I really bought into my role, so I wasn’t enough unless I was writing a deal.
What I realized is as we become enough, even if we’re not making money or doing the thing that we’re heavily rewarded as successful people to do – even when we’re not doing that, we’re still enough, and all of a sudden we start showing up differently.
Joe Fairless: What’s the question that you would ask?
James Colburn: I just said “What do I use to make myself feel enough that’s unnecessary?” Again, everyone has to — I use the word “enough” because it’s meaningful to me. Other people would say “What component of success have I bought into as a requirement that’s not necessary for me to still be successful?”, or whatever it might be. It’s a question around what’s fueling this desire.
And then lastly, Reaffirm. One of the big things on Reaffirm is celebration. I think a lot of highly successful, highly achieved individuals are worried that when they’re jumping for joy, celebrating a success, that the ground beneath will go missing… So when they land, the ground beneath is gone. So there is this fear that I don’t wanna jinx success by celebrating it. So I challenge to ask questions around celebrations, “How in my business plan can I add in celebration to each win throughout next year?”
Joe Fairless: That’s a fun one.
James Colburn: I actually say “we business-plan success”, so we business-plan how to achieve and what the metrics are, but we often times forget to write in what the celebration will look like. So it’s just business-planning celebration as well, or for that matter, gratitude.
Joe Fairless: I love it. That one, out of the three, I think wouldn’t keep me awake. The first two, I need to read your book and learn more about how I can position those in my mind, so that I’m not trying to come up with the answers. But with the celebration, for whatever reason for me personally, that accesses a different part of my mind, and one maybe that doesn’t ever get accessed.
James Colburn: I really like that; I like that that jumps at you, because that would be all the reaffirming stuff. One chapter is called Granular Gratitude, or one chapter is called Moments of Brilliance… What I mean by Moments of Brilliance is we’re all designed for a few, very specific moments of brilliance while we’re here, right? So what have been my moments of brilliance thus far in my career? And just actually asking that question.
On the Granular Gratitude chapter, instead of just Gratitude, I call it Granular Gratitude because what I’ve realized is that we tend to be grateful for big stuff, like housing, food, shelter – that kind of stuff. Instead, what I like to do is find gratitude in the really small things, that made huge changes in our life.
Joe Fairless: Sure.
James Colburn: So the gratitude of how I met my wife, which was just completely random back in college; it ended up just being this off-chance meeting that obviously has completely changed the direction of my life, and these three kids wouldn’t even be here if I hadn’t met her… That kind of thing. So just kind of really running with those, and that’s an interesting thing how that wouldn’t keep you up, but rather instead that would actually put you to bed.
Joe Fairless: This is a conversation that I believe everyone can benefit from participating in and listening to and reading your book, so thank you for being on the show. How can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you and learn more about what you’ve got going on?
James Colburn: Well, your listeners can certainly go to Amazon and they can get the book, either on Kindle, paperback or audio, or they can go to JamesColburn.net and they can download a PDF of the five-minute epic evening ritual with sample questions and/or three free chapters of the book.
Joe Fairless: Outstanding. James, thank you again for being on the show. The five-minute epic evening ritual – we’ve gotta create an acronym for that… For my own purposes, no one else, just for me. It is a way to start asking thought-provoking, quality questions, because as achievers, what you’ve recognized is that we tend to seek out the answer and sometimes even when the question hasn’t even been fully asked yet. So really just taking a step back, asking three quality questions, sleeping on it… Don’t try and answer it until the morning, just sleep on it, and then wake up in the morning and identify what has come up. Sometimes there’s not even an answer, sometimes it’s simply a better quality question that could be asked.
Thanks so much for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.
James Colburn: Thank you.