How Old Am I? Learning After You Know It All

One of my relatives had a milestone birthday this weekend, which got me thinking about getting older and its effect on our businesses.  We all get older, there is really nothing that can be done about it.  But that doesn’t mean that we have to fall into the trap of letting our mind get old before its time.  Henry Ford, the famous American industrialist said “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

pictures of old crusty home inspectors

My focus today is on the effect of the passage of time on our world view, which in turn has a direct effect on our home inspection processes.  As we go through life (and home inspections), we are continually processing the experiences that we have every day.  These experiences (eventually) help to build up our mental database, becoming our accumulated knowledge, also known as wisdom.  This accumulated knowledge is certainly a benefit to us, both in our daily lives and our jobs.

Once we have gained experience as home inspectors, we begin to realize that most of the issues that we find on inspections are the same (with just enough variety to keep our jobs interesting!)  We eventually begin to think that we know every problem that will be encountered during an inspection before we even get to the house.  Some of us begin to think that, maybe, we should be viewed as the guru of the home buying process!

We can fall into the trap of thinking that we know what everyone is concerned about in a home, and that we should dictate what the questions are and what information will be disseminated during the inspection process.  And while all successful inspectors know how to maintain control over the home inspection process, we must also realize that as we age, so do our viewpoints.  We must keep in mind that it is important that our clients, the home-buyers, help guide the direction of the home inspection.

As we get older, we are often amazed at how young our clients have become.  We often look at these home buyers and wonder how someone so young can afford to purchase a house!  But, we must realize that home buyers are not getting any younger, we are simply getting older.  We must also guard against allowing our preconceived notions (of what is important to a home buyer) to color our interaction with our clients.  We must realize that our clients are often members of a new generation, and that they may have different ideals and different ideas of what they are looking for in a home.

Somethings will never change, as buyers will always be concerned with the condition of the major systems (roof, HVAC, etc.) of a home.  But a new generation of home buyers may be concerned with different things in a home that may have never even entered your mind.  They may be concerned with having charging stations for their multitude of electronic devices, having less outdoor space for less maintenance, having ease of access to public transportation, renewable/reclaimed materials in the home to accommodate a “greener” lifestyle, or any number of things that would never make it onto our (old) radar.

an old home inspector reading a book to become better educated

Aging has many effects on our bodies and our minds.  Sometime these effects can be mitigated by healthy living: exercise, healthy diet and continued activity; but Father Time eventually catches up with everyone.  But just because we grow older, it doesn’t mean that we have to stop growing, personally and professionally.  To continue to be successful in the home inspection industry, we must continue to adapt and continue to learn.

Realize that you will never know everything.
So try your best not to act like you do.

I will leave you today with two quotes.  First, from John Maxwell, American author, speaker and pastor, who said “The greatest enemy of learning is knowing.”  And lastly, a quote from John Wooden, basketball player, famous coach and author, who said “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

Realize that you will never know everything, so try your best not to act like you do.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector