The other day I happened upon a conversation between two colleagues. While channel surfing, they had both come across a rerun of the 1985 classic "Back to the Future", and were discussing what things they would change if they, too, could pop back in time. After listening to their ideas-one of which centered on ensuring that a particular person's parents never met, thus eliminating the possibility of them having to deal with, shall we say, his rather unique personal grooming habits-I wandered off, shaking my head and chuckling.
But as I headed down the hall, I started thinking it about it: what would I do differently if I could even go back 5 years? Were there things that I would have changed in my business life or in my personal life? Is there an opportunity that I would have taken, or a deal that I would have walked away from rather than pursuing?
Then, being a rather big picture thinker, I began contemplating what the mortgage and real estate industries would have done differently if they knew in 2005 what they know in 2010. Would there still have been the bubble or the bailout? Could we-or more appropriately, would we-in our respective industries have prevented the rates of bankruptcy and foreclosures we've seen?
And what, I've wondered, are we doing today that we will applaud 5 years from now, and what are those actions that are placing us at risk?
The fact is, I don't know that our industries as a whole would have done anything. In 2005, there was a lot of ego driving the housing market, and some of the big players were far more worried about making a buck themselves than about the impact their actions were having on our country. But I would hope that, hindsight being what it is, there could have been enough of us who spoke up loud enough to do something about it.
I also believe that we can being actively engaged now to make sure that we are not in the same place-or a worse one-in five years. Things like stopping ourselves from listening to and believing in the bad news that is constantly bombarding us and, instead, start making some good news. Or assuming that the worst will always happen and instead start looking for the best. Or just ensuring that every action we take is above reproach and focused not only on our personal well-being, but also on the good of our clients.
If we do that, we will be far less tempted to go back to change things and simply to celebrate where we are and how far we've come.
(And maybe DeLoreans will be back in production by then. Hey-a guy can dream...)
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