Allen Morris On Real Estate

Self-Imposed Limitations

  |   Real Estate
AM-headshot-blogHave you ever been absolutely, positivity sure that you could not do something or achieve something, and then someone or something came along and proved to you that you could?
Chances are, you’ve had experiences like that. It is exhilarating to discover that some goal you thought beyond your reach was just an illusion; a self-imposed limitation.

 

A business colleague recently told me that I should share my martial arts story in my blog because it is a great example of my self-imposed limitations proved illusory and the outcome has affected both my life and my business. It begins like this: When I was 22-years old, I broke my back in a plane crash and for a short time was paralyzed from the waist down. Just as I was getting used to the thought of living out the remainder of my life in a wheelchair, a third surgery of spinal fusion brought the feeling back in my legs. I then spent nine months in a body cast. In time, I learned to walk again, although I was told that I should not expect to ever run again. Obviously, this is a truncated version of the real story that lasted longer than you would want to read in a blog! The point is, my recovery was nothing short of miraculous and I am tremendously grateful to God, my doctors and a mean “Drill Sargent” of a nurse (who wouldn’t let me give up), and to my parents and friends who prayed for me non-stop. I could have stopped there, happy and grateful to have regained use of my legs.

 

However, many years later, at the age of 48, I felt burned out and decided I needed to take a sabbatical. A life coach recommended martial arts as a personal development opportunity. Martial arts!, I responded in shock. Crescent kicks and airborne wood splitting? Yeah, right. Well, I dove into it, which is my personality, and found that I enjoyed the training so much that I began wondering if it would actually be possible to advance through ten belt levels and earn my black belt by my 50th birthday. Imagine that goal for someone who once thought he would be in a wheelchair for life. I trained intensely six days a week for 20 months, and as I approached my black belt test, one of the requirements was to do 100 pushups in two minutes. With everything I tried, I knew for a fact that my body could only do 60 pushups. I shared my hopeless dilemma with my teacher. Instead of agreeing with me, she proved that with enough rest between my pushups that I could do another 20, then another 10, then another 10, until equaling 100. She said, “See, you can do 100 pushups. Now all we have to do is shorten the time.” A month later on my 50th birthday when I tested for black belt, I did 100 pushups in one minute, 16 seconds, something I previously knew was impossible. Then, I thought, if I could become a black belt, why not a 2nd degree black belt?

 

Two years later, when I prepared for my 2nd degree black belt, my other teacher told me to do something new that I had never done before by holding a board in the air with my left hand and breaking it with my right hand. I looked at him bewildered and said, “But no one is holding the other end of the board to make it rigid. Can I do that?” “Yes,” he said. “I know how fast you are. You can do that.” After the third try, I saw a flash in the upper right hand corner after I struck the board as the other half flew in the air. I knew I couldn’t do that! Until he proved to me that I could.

 

I continued my training and for my 3rd degree black belt, where I learned that I could break four flaming boards at a time on bricks with one blow and circle kicks over my head. For a person who used to be in a wheelchair, that’s hard for even me to believe. On my 60th birthday, after another back surgery, I earned my 4th degree black belt and the designation of a Tai Kwon Do Master, thanks to my teachers, Diego and Mary Beth Perez.

 

The experience further inspired me to pursue another lifelong dream of becoming a commercial pilot and FAA certified jet captain.
So how did all of this affect my business? 20+ years ago, I had defined myself in my own mind as an office building developer who built 50-150,000 square foot office buildings and I was nervous to consider more than that. I now realized that I had created a self-imposed limitation in my mind. This self-limiting belief was something I had silently carried within myself for decades.

 

After assembling the right development team, we created Alhambra Towers in Coral Gables, Florida, at 412,000 SF, which won 10 awards! Then, with the right team and with great partnerships, our next project was a 1.3 million SF condominium/hotel, and the next was a 608,000 SF award-winning apartment and 567,000 SF mixed-use development. Currently, The Allen Morris Company is building 400+ unit market rate student housing, 400+ unit rental Class A apartments, a 262,000 square foot office building, and a series of hotels and other mixed use projects in the pipeline.

 

There have been many other examples in my personal and professional life, family, relationships, and business life, but I stay inspired by others who demonstrate to me that I can do more than I ever imagined. That is, if I don’t give in to my persistent self-limiting beliefs. In the end, it feels pretty good to prove myself wrong. I love teaching this old dog new tricks.

 

A business colleague recently told me that I should share my martial arts story in my blog because it is a great example of my self-imposed limitations proved illusory and the outcome has affected both my life and my business. It begins like this: When I was 22-years old, I broke my back in a plane crash and for a short time was paralyzed from the waist down. Just as I was getting used to the thought of living out the remainder of my life in a wheelchair, a third surgery of spinal fusion brought the feeling back in my legs. I then spent nine months in a body cast. In time, I learned to walk again, although I was told that I should not expect to ever again run again. Obviously, this is a truncated version of the real story that lasted longer than you would want to read in a blog! The point is, my recovery was nothing short of miraculous and I am tremendously grateful to God, my doctors and surgeons, and to my parents and friends who prayed for me non-stop. I could have stopped there, happy and grateful to have regained use of my legs.

 

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