For over a decade I worked in the financial services industry in Melbourne, Australia, with emphasis on residential property investment advice to investors. During this time, I’ve seen a succession of property cowboys and dodgy characters make a killing at the expense of some members of the ‘unsuspecting’ public. There’s no doubt these property rip-off merchants were culpable in lying, misleading and over-promising and subsequently a few of them have paid the price when the ponderous processes of the law finally caught up with them. But are the people they conned truly innocent victims who have been ripped off mercilessly by despicable characters? Or should the ‘victims’ have taken more care and responsibility for their choices and decisions?
You’ve got to wonder why people are continually sucked in by the merchants of get-rich-quick property investment schemes. They rarely become overnight millionaires, as some property ‘experts’ claim they will, but regrettably many of them get caught with poor investments that end up either not performing very well, or sometimes costing the investor a packet.
Some would-be property investors are, no doubt, driven by greed and get swept up in the euphoria of the possibility of making a quick speculative killing. Many others, I suspect, are naïve people, who are ready to believe just about anything they’re told, even if the evidence presented is slight, or downright suspect.
Having a naïve attitude about anything, including investing, can cause us as many problems as any other personal shortcoming we might have.
I believe that naivety, on a personal level, is rampant in our supposedly hard-nosed and cynical society. Why is this so?
Having chosen to be rather naïve for much of my life, I can talk from first-hand experience and I’d guess my motivation for being naïve would be pretty much the same as other people.
At one level, I used to justify my naivety behind a smokescreen of self-righteousness. “I trust people” or “I only look for the good in people”, and then blame them, “How could they do this to me?” as, yet again, I was taken advantage of, misled or conned. However, I now know this wasn’t the full story.
The truth of the matter was that I was only seeing what I wanted to see. I chose to be taken advantage of, misled or conned simply because I wanted a particular result or outcome more badly than I was prepared to look at things with discernment or take the trouble of objectively weighing the pros and cons.
Of course, it always seems easy to blame others for the results of our own choices if they turn out to be unfavourable. And while this may make us feel a little better about things immediately after the event, it is, at best, a short-term palliative. At a deeper level, I believe we really do know that our choice to adopt a ‘Mr. Magoo’ attitude, is really the cause of the problem and our denial is yet another blow to our self confidence and self-respect.
What to do? First, I suggest we should look honestly at the part we played in making choices that lead to disasters. Blaming someone else is taking us nowhere. Entertain the possibility that our own naivety has tipped us into the mire. No one else is to blame, we are responsible!
Once we have the courage to take responsibility for all of our choices, we trigger an awareness within our minds that automatically assists us in exercising discernment about what we take on board. Whether it be spin from - so-called property ‘experts’; politicians; the media in general; or ‘gurus’ of any kind.
Taking responsibility for all of our decisions and choices is liberating, not limiting. There’s no further need to give our power away to people we blame. We are no longer their victims. This is self-empowering.