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Things Aren't Going Well and It's Your Fault

Things aren't going so hot and it's your fault. You don't want to think it's your fault, but the vast majority of the time, it is.

Why aren't you changing the way I want you to?

Seems strange to say... maybe.

There's a very profound notion that we cannot change other people, we can only change ourselves. If it's somebody else's fault though, what are we to do? There's the rub. We can only change ourselves, and if we want to fix it (whatever 'it' is - flashbacks of Bill Clinton just made me laugh to myself), it has to be our fault.

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What Happened - An Example

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I was checking on a rehab we have in progress and it put me in a funk. I'd love to say that I walked in and was amazed at the progress and quality of work. The opposite happened. Things had not progressed as quickly as they should have been and there were mistakes, major mistakes.

The tile was installed incorrectly. The 12x24 inch tile was supposed to be stacked horizontally, where the 24-inch side is horizontal and the 12-inch side is vertical. It wasn't. It was reversed.

It looked weird.

The whole tub surround was done that way. "What the hell is this," was all I could mutter. The response was, "yeah, the tile guy did it wrong." No kidding.

How come nobody caught it before the whole thing was finished? Then I walked into the master bathroom....

It was done the exact same way! Not only that, the tub and shower are separate in the master and both had been done incorrectly. The GC was not on the job while I was there. I'm guessing he hasn't been on the job much lately...

Now my temper was starting to flare. I try to catch it more these days and I'm doing a decent job of it. When the temper is lost, it's time to stop, take a deep breath and think things through.

I went to my car and I did exactly that. My immediate reaction when I saw the lack of progress and mistakes made was to blame the GC (general contractor). But, was it really his fault? He did make the mistake of not staying on top of his people and he is the one that has to deal with it, but it causes problems for the whole rehab. Which means, it causes problems for me.

Big fat BUT, it was my fault for not staying on top of the GC. This kind of thing has been going on since we started rehabbing houses over 10 years ago. It shouldn't be a big shocker. In the past, I would always get angry and just pin the blame on the contractor...but they kept doing it. Because that is what some of them do. It's just reality. Accept it.

I placed a call to the absent contractor and asked him why things were not progressing quickly and correctly enough. He didn't mention anything about the tile. Then I asked about the tile. His response was something akin to, "Oh. Can you believe that idiot did that?"

He's playing the same game I was playing. It's immediately someone else's fault. I don't think it occurred to him he needed to blame himself for not staying on top of a new tile person. How do I know the tile guy was new? Because we have been doing all tile patterns the same for YEARS. It's not something we change often.

But, I didn't get angry with him because I had realized that ultimately I was responsible for not being there often enough myself. Which happens when you use the same contractor for a couple years and dozens of rehabs.

The buck has to stop somewhere and that somewhere is with us. We are the ones that have the investment at stake and nobody cares about our situation more than we do or we should.

This Isn't Just About Rehabs and Contractors

This idea that we need to be responsible for everything that happens also fits with everything else that happens in your life. People make too many excuses. I'm not excluded from that.

When things aren't going well, we have to step up to the plate and make it happen the way we want it to happen. This reminds me of something my father always reminds me of, "someone always needs to be pushing." If you are relying on someone to do something for you, whether it be a title company to handle a closing, a Realtor to submit an offer, a landscaper to mow a lawn, a student to pass out flyers for you, and you want to make sure it is done quickly and the way you want, you have to be pushing.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to be an a-hole. Just keep checking in with people and getting status reports.

Had I done that I wouldn't have made another mistake the previous week. My wife had scheduled to have the staging furniture for one of the houses we just sold moved to one that we just finished rehabbing.

To make a long story short, I got a call saying there was no carpet in the house we were moving the furniture to. What!!?! That was supposed to have been done the week before. I had the text's to prove it. But it wasn't and it was might fault again for not making sure the house was ready. Live and learn.

What Say You?

Have you been blaming someone else when you should be blaming yourself? I'd love to hear about it especially if it has to do with flipping houses, whether you are getting started or have been doing it a while. Please share your experiences in the comments below.

Thank you.

-Danny Johnson

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Tags: Getting Started, Systems & Processes