Finding the 18th Camel…

Please watch the first 1:45 of William Ury TEDx Midwest video before continuing, it will make the context of this blog make much more sense… or don’t…

William starts his TEDtalk off with an interesting story from the Middle East. A man leaves his 17 camels to his three sons. To the first son he leaves half, to the second son he leaves a third, and to the third son he leaves a ninth. Well as the three sons do the math they find that none of their portions divide very well into 17 camels. Arguments ensue and they decide to consult a wise old woman who tells them she’s not sure if she can solve their problem, but instead she offers them her one camel, thus giving the three sons 18 camels. This gives the first son 9 camels, the second son gets 6 camels, and the third son gets 2 camels. Well… 9+6+2 = 17 camels, so the three sons return the 18th camel to the wise old lady!

In real estate, life, and in leadership positions I often find myself searching for that 18th camel. It’s interesting how we as humans tend to focus our time, energy and thoughts on the problem versus the solution. Getting to yes shouldn’t be as hard as we tend to make it on ourselves.

I used to work at The Little Nell hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain in Colorado. This amazing resort hotel is owned by the Aspen Skiing Company and is rated a 5 star/5 diamond property. Guests pay top dollar for just a standard (insert luxurious) room. With that, they expect amazing service (insert treatment). One of the challenges posed to us as employees was to never, ever tell a guest ‘NO’. This gave us the unique opportunity of always finding ways to say yes, or offering different options/solutions that kept us away from the dreaded ‘NO’. Unfortunately that experience was many moons ago and I have sadly fallen away from the practice of always finding the yes or solution and avoiding the ‘NO’.

Much of the difficulty in getting to yes is our mindset. Lewis Pugh (check out his TEDtalk), who swam at the North Pole and also at the base of Mt. Everest, shares three interesting thoughts on the subject of mindset. First, there is nothing more powerful than the made up mind. Second, just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work in the future. And finally, what type of mindset do I need to have to complete a task? Remember the 3 brothers and the camels – their mindset was focused on the fact that 17 camels can’t be dived by 2, 3, or 9… thankfully the wise old woman gave them an 18th camel, which she knew she’d get back!

I was just today faced with an opportunity to find the 18th camel, and boy did I miss it! Thankfully, this client is also a good friend. They are trying to sell a town home in a challenging market surrounded by short sales and foreclosures. Due to outside circumstances a short sale is not an option. We’ve discussed this many times and we always find ourselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Today I spoke with the friend/client and the question was raised again, what can we do? I quickly (insert foolishly) responded, “We are still where we’ve always been, there’s nothing we can do…” Then the friend/client brilliantly found the 18th camel, suggesting a price reduction method that I had never thought of or considered. I was too focused on the problem and not the solution.

William Ury’s TEDtalk and the experience with my client, reminded me of my days at The Little Nell and taught me an important lesson… I gotta run, there’s an 18th camel running around and I need to go catch it!


About utahREpro

Chris is the managing broker for Prudential Utah Elite Real Estate in American Fork, Utah. His passions include spending time with his family, Real Estate, Social Media, traveling, reading, movies, golf, dirt biking and so much more. Chris is a graduate of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Leadership Academy as well as the Utah Association of REALTORS (UAR) Leadership Academy. He has served in many capacities in the real estate industry at the national, state and local levels, including: 2013 Treasurer of the Utah Association of REALTORS 2011 President of the Utah County Association of REALTORS (UCAR) 2011 REALTOR of the Year – UCAR NAR Federal Political Coordinator assigned to US Senator Mike Lee 2011 NAR Strategic Planning Committee 2010 – 2013 NAR Public Policy Coordinating Committee 2011 Dean of the LeadershipUAR Program Chris has been a licensed REALTOR in the State of Utah since 2004. He has been recognized both nationally and locally by Prudential and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2010.
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6 Responses to Finding the 18th Camel…

  1. Mike Mueller says:

    Chris –
    What a great post! I’m with you all the way.
    Often times I find my self on the verge of saying “No” or “You can’t do that” or “It can’t be done” only to catch myself.
    When I do it’s just a simple addition of a few words and a complete change of context.
    “It can’t be done that way, but let’s see if there’s another way” certainly opens up a world of possibilities.

  2. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I am practicing. Thank you for the reminder that finding a work around that is framed in positive light is always the best possible resolution.

    After 22 years in this career I have seen my share of difficult deals, but this current marketplace has made it more challenging by the day. I am also interested in hearing what the price reduction idea was!

  3. Pingback: My Installation as 2011 UCAR President | utahREpro

  4. Pingback: My Top Blog Posts of 2010 | utahREpro

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