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Mike Tyson has dropped a few jewels of wisdom on us over the years.  One of his lesser-known quotes came when he pointed at his head and said “In here it’s a bad neighborhood, and you’re always by yourself.”

Those words ring so true in so many ways.  While I’ve always considered myself an optimist, a “bright side” kind of guy, that’s the outward me.  That’s the Mike everyone sees and works with, while inside I’m planning what to pack when my world comes crashing down.  Bad news, or things not going exactly according to plan, will always send me into contingency mode, hopelessly moving the chess pieces around while knowing its mate in five.  Not whining here, this is entirely my fault.  These are all demons of my own creation stemming from being 1) self-employed, 2) addicted to risk, 3) wrapped in a blanket of impossible standards I’ve set for myself, and 4) bound, set, and determined to do things my own way despite all logic to the contrary.  It’s a fun combination that reaps certain benefits but also leaves you alone with the stress that follows this life choice like a shadow.

I feel like we finished 2023 on a high note, which was great.  That being said, I didn’t have a high opinion of the preceding 11.5 months.  In my mind, this last year was fraught with stress, littered with the mistakes I had made, and highlighted by certain events that just left a bad taste in my mouth.  I felt like I did not perform to the best of my ability, and that I let myself down (and those around me).  This was my perspective, and I had no idea how wrong I was until this last weekend of December.

Friday, December 29th, we held our annual year-end meeting and celebration for Linnemann Realty at our new Belton office.  With a team of over 20 full-time employees and several Agents, we had quite the crowd.  These gatherings are usually a good time, but I still wasn’t prepared for how much fun we would have.  Our core team has been with us for years and continues to deliver unbelievable results, and we’ve made some key new hires through the year who have only complimented an already well-seasoned crew.  On this night, they all came together with smiles on their faces, joy in their hearts, and a level of confidence and excitement for the coming year that I had yet to grasp.  Going into the evening I felt it my responsibility to instill them with a positive outlook for the next year, but it was them that did that for me.  We stayed late, told war stories, cranked up the music, and finished the year on a high note.

Fast-forward to New Year’s Eve. We stayed home, cooked some food, and hosted a few close friends. As the evening went on, I found myself commenting on 2023 and how “difficult” of a year it was. I did acknowledge that we finished well and that I’m “currently” feeling good about everything, but still held the balance of the year in a negative light. Again, I was wrong. Allow me to elaborate.

My wife has always been the best thing for me, in so many ways. She’s patiently dealt with my moods and stress levels all year and has handled it with the same smooth touch that she’s always used. This was when Priscilla chimed in and asked the question I needed to hear: “what was so bad about it?”

My response was to make a brief laundry list of all of the little things I felt could have been done better, all of the areas where I fell down on the job. (All from that list I keep carved in stone with flaming letters right there at the front of my mind every single day. You know, the list? After all, you’re never going to improve if you don’t constantly remind yourself of how you keep failing yourself and everyone around you, right?)

Priscilla smiled at me and said, “Michael, in the last year we bought out a company, hosted our grand opening for Level 3, spent August in Europe, and started our new home.” She continued by reminding me of our 20th anniversary vow renewal, and the fact that family and friends from all over the country poured into town to show their love and support. Our daughter Ava walked over from the kitchen, also with a big smile on her face, jumped in with her mother and reminded me of all the good times we had in 2023 and the lead role she crushed at Central Texas Theatre. They both looked at me in wonder. They had no idea what I was talking about.

And in that moment, neither did I.

I made no objection. I offered no argument because I didn’t have one. The room was quiet for a second as I looked back and forth between my amazing wife and equally amazing daughter, both happy, healthy, and entirely confused by my negative outlook. There I sat, surrounded by the comfort of my home, the company of close friends, and the love of my family and instantly realized how wrong I had been. I enjoyed the sensation of soaking up the shrapnel from the truth bomb that had just scored a direct hit on my self-loathing enemy lines. The more I thought about it, the better I felt.

I was much harder on myself in the last year than I needed to be. It didn’t add to the difficulties of the year, it was the sole difficulty of the year. Looking back on everything, I now know with unwavering certainty that every dragon I had to slay in the last twelve months was created in my own mind and raised under my strict tutelage. (Now that you’re fully grown, go be a good dragon and attack your father. He deserves it.)

So what’s the path forward? Obviously, I can’t just snap my fingers and change who I am, nor would I want to. Many of my behaviors that have spun out of control are the same that have bolstered me to new levels of accomplishment. Keeping a watchful eye and a hand on the wheel is endemic to business success. There’s an element of this that needs to remain, but remain in balance with the greatness and wonder of the life I’m living.

I’m a lucky guy, and I know that. Now more than ever. My issues pale in comparison to what I see others having to deal with on a regular basis. My challenges are nothing different than those that we all face, and are primarily of my own creation. I’m so fortunate to have my wife and family who are the very reason behind everything I do, and an extended family that will drop everything and fly into town at the drop of a hat. I’m eternally grateful to our staff and agents at Linnemann Realty and Level 3, all wonderful people who play such an important role in this crazy, unpredictable story we keep writing. And I’m grateful for my demons, my dragons, and my stone list with flaming letters. You guys can stay, but I now know better how to manage you.

Demons, it’s your turn to mow the lawn. Dragons, you guys are cute when you’re young, but once you grow up I’m just going to set you free. That list? Let’s just carve a few other things into it to remind me of what I’ve done right, because I’ve obviously done something right to be surrounded by such amazing people. I’ll invite them over, break out that flaming list, and we’ll roast marshmallows.

Yeah, that’s what we’ll do. Thank you 2023 for the lessons, the growth, and for ending on the best note a guy could ask for. Hello 2024, I already love you.

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About Me
Michael E Linnemann, the President/Broker of Linnemann Realty Homes Sales, Rental Homes, Investments, and Property Management

Michael Linnemann

As President / Broker of Linnemann Realty I truly enjoy my life in real estate. Getting here was tough, and I’ve learned a lot in the 23 years that I’ve been in the business. My career has certainly not followed the path of a typical Realtor. As a result, it has provided a wealth of experience that proves very beneficial to my clients.

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