The Unstable Flux Of Time

Real estate acquisitions all have one common denominator – the unstable flux of time.

Over two thousand years ago, Marcus Aurelius realized that time was fleeting.

“Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.43

As time continues, we need to realize that everything is constantly changing. Markets, people, policies, proposals, and properties all change with time.

Believe it or not, we too change.

“We cannot step twice in the same river…” – Heraclitus

Time and speed make acquisitions in any field challenging. In real estate, there are added complexities to getting your team and third party vendors on site. Regardless of your due diligence checklist, the unstable flux of time requires your full focus.

You have a finite window to review documents, visit the property and perform physical as well as financial diligence. Avoid busy work. Focus on the few things that matter.

Marcus Aurelius realized the importance of avoiding busy work in his section of Debts and Lessons from Alexander the Platonist.

“Not to be constantly telling people (or writing them) that I’m too busy; unless I really am. Similarly, not to be always ducking my responsibilities to the people around me because of “pressing business.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 1.12

When you are up against the clock, you must remain organized. Self-control becomes critical. Your ability to ask for help and yet provide direction can be the deciding factors in making progress or making mistakes. It is impossible for us to know everything. It is worse to be unable to maintain control over ourselves.

The very first entry in Meditations is perhaps the most important as Marcus reflected on the lessons learned from his Grandfather Verus.

“Character and self-control.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 1.1

Distractions are endless in our modern world.

Take care of business when you and your team are in the diligence phase. Avoiding distractions has been a timeless strength to those who know how to get work done.

Marcus Aurelius realize he learned a great deal from Maximus in his Meditation:


“Self-control and resistance to distractions.

Optimism in adversity – especially illness…

Doing your job without whining.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 1.15

Your purpose in an acquisition is not to ask for more time or complain about the tasks at hand. It is not to focus on trivial issues that have no real impact on your investment strategy. Diligence is for discovering deal killers. It is for making sure you and your team are aligned with the right plan.

Your purpose is to verify that your investment is able to move you and your team forward in a worthwhile direction.

“Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile, stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions. But make sure you guard against the other kind of confusion. People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are wasting their time even when hard at work.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 2.7

Put people under stress and you will reveal their true nature. The timing and speed of any acquisition can create stress. Uncovering problems adds to that stress.

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5.16

How do you maintain a positive attitude no matter what is happening during your transaction? What if you are dealing with added stresses at home in your personal life? To live an untroubled life, you must act. You must think. You must grow. You must change with time.

“You can lead an untroubled life provided you can grow, can think and act systematically.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5.34

Running one acquisition or multiple acquisitions at the same time can seem impossible. Remember your ancestors and those that came before you overcame even more impossible odds.

“Practice even what seems impossible.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 12.6

It is up to us to understand the unstable flux of time. Work hard. Work with purpose. Work with direction. Work with the knowledge that time never stops.

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