First off, I’m not wasting it, not exactly. You could argue – many do – that I am not using my life to its highest and best purpose while doing mortgages, but before we get all judgmental on that, maybe we should understand some things together.
I’m a man of faith. I believe that I have a heavenly Father that sent me to this place to learn things and to become more like He is. He did not send me here to marvel at the brilliant creations of my mind and fingers, fun as they are. He could do everything I do much better than I do it.
So what is the point of my doing anything at all, then? Well, I have to learn to walk for myself. My children all had to learn it, and I was right there, and I could walk just fine, and I could even carry them, but what’s the good of that? So I let them do it, because THEY needed to, not because I did. God behaves just like this. I need to do things because I need to learn to do them. I will suck at many of them, and will be perfect at none of them, but they are critical to do, just like homework exercises. I’m not being graded. I’m learning lessons. The point is to get better.
One of the things I’m not very good at is focus, and another is self-discipline. True story: when I began in this business, I had never had a job that lasted more than four years, and only one of those. The previous five years I had run a presidential campaign, been a sales director with a dotcom, curated a museum, been retired, and sold virtual tours of real estate. My resume was a train wreck. My sister, bless her dear heart, was my assistant the first few months of my mortgage career. She bet me dinner I wouldn’t last one year as a loan officer. She had every reason to believe she would win that bet handily. That was my track record. [Aside: I collected on that bet with great relish.]
Modern society talks a lot about “following your muse” and “doing what you love”, and other such things. I’ve written about them. I have little patience with such things, though you’d reasonably expect me to be entirely in favor of them. They fit right in with my personal proclivities. And that is exactly the problem: they run in the direction of my biggest weaknesses.
Since I am not here to indulge myself, nor am I here to build anything material, for none of that lasts, I must be here to become something better, and that means hard work, and I don’t care if it’s doing something I dearly love, the part that will get it from theory to practice is WORK, because it always is. Everything of value is created with blood and sweat and time. [Aside: yes, this includes love, because “falling in love” is destructive without actual love, which is usually cleverly disguised as hard work.]
I love my family. I want things for them, and I commit to them that I will deliver certain things. To do that, I needed to find a career that would pay me money and leave me flexibility to spend time with them. That left out a lot of possibilities, because I have a lot of kids – on purpose (yes, funny man, I do know what causes that, and I like it. A lot.) – and that means money and acres of time. So mortgages was a place I could go that I could get those things, and if there were things about the job I disliked, what job wasn’t going to have that? I wanted a job that 1) I was good at, 2) that paid, and 3) that I liked. In approximately that order. I don’t think that it mattered to my Father what that was. I know it didn’t matter much to anyone else what it was.
I chose mortgages, and for a long time I got all three of those things. Increasingly, in a vain attempt to prevent stupid greedy people from being stupid and greedy, government regulation of the industry has choked the third thing out. But I’ve learned what I came to learn. It is impossible to survive in this business, let alone thrive in it, without focus and discipline, without meticulous attention to detail, without sheer bloody-minded hard, possibly pointless work in the face of nearly certain disaster. When I arrived as a loan officer, I had none of those things. Now, I do.
What I’ve built here is nothing special, in the worldly sense. I will never be on the cover of a magazine. I will not speak at TED, barring a miracle (for which I still hope, sometimes). My little operation is nothing to take note of in the halls of business. But it has made me someone better. It has been a refuge for many people that were lost and needing help, and not just clients, either. It has been a place of laughter and joy and heartbreak and suffering and splendid courage. Those that come here feel at home, and leave better than they arrived.
THAT is why I’m “wasting” my life as a mortgage agent. Because my life’s purpose is not money or books (hard to write that down, there) or offices or even houses and loans. My life’s purpose is to become the best person I can be. This crazy, awful, gut-wrenching ride has done much to move me in that direction.
All that said (and thank you for reading this far, Mom), there comes a time. This might be it. For now, I’m here, still beavering away on mortgages and doing my best to make them as painless for my clients as possible. But it may be time to take these things I’ve learned back to the things I am good at, and that I love, now that I have much more ability to respect and do honor to them.
We shall see.