The Most Valuable Thing I Learnt At Uni – And It Won’t Be What You Think


The Most Important Lesson That Most People Don’t Learn or Don’t Understand


I felt it was time to share what was the most important lesson I learnt during my five years of university. I may have blogged on this before. And if I did, then it’s worth repeating.
You can think of this as my Christmas gift to you. I spent in excess of $10,000 on this part of my education (yes, uni was cheap when I went through compared to what it costs now, but back then houses were a lot cheaper too and we thought it was expensive because our predecessors got uni for free)
Still for $10,000 this was a lesson worth learning.
So read this carefully and don’t miss it.
As you probably know, even though I’m a property investor, my professional education was in veterinary science. I’m actually still a practicing veterinary scientist and currently working on a project to eradicate a terrible disease that kills thousands puppies across Australia. I may share more on this later. But we digress…
People often say to me they think it’s unusual that a vet can also be a highly successful property investor, but for me the two are quite similar – both are about problem solving, running tests, analysing results and making a diagnosis and then implementing a solution that if successful, results in you getting paid. My ‘property patients’ are just bigger and bite in a different way, if you are not careful.
So back to this lesson.
I have to credit this to my third year Pig Medicine lecturer, Professor Ross Buddle. He was one of our favourite lecturers and he always used to use a pen with a pig on the end of it as a pointer for the old overhead transparency projector. You young kids won’t even know what I’m talking about. I think Microsoft Powerpoint hadn’t even become mainstream back then. Data projectors certainly were not commonplace. And this was only in the late 1990s…
So one day, Professor Buddle says to our class that his lesson today won’t be on pigs. We were shocked. We didn’t know that Prof. Buddle could talk about anything except pigs. He knew a lot about pigs.
He says to us that today we are going to learn one of the most important lessons of our career.
It was a simple lesson but one that is so valuable.
The lesson was:

The First Step Is I Can

Stay with me, because it’s really important that you FULLY get this.
It’s funny because twenty years later, and this is still my most memorable lecture from my whole uni degree. I remember feeling like a lightbulb switched on, above my head. This was the first of many ‘positive mindset’ and ‘inspirational’ or ‘resourcefulness’ talks I’ve heard since. It was a lesson I was very much there to receive. Want to learn more? Do an NLP course. It will change your life.
The problem with so many challenges that we go into, today (whether it is property investing or your day-job, or another aspect of your life), is that people go in to tackle a challenge believing that they cannot do it. Or telling themselves they cannot do it. “I can’t do this, it’s my first time, so it doesn’t matter if I fail, but I’ll try anyway”. Then they struggle to do something despite their belief that it’s not possible, or will be hard to do. And you know what, often they succeed in doing it anyway. But they make the journey so much harder than it needs to be.
If you have ever heard Brendan Nichols speak, he calls this “The Scumbag Voice”. It’s the little voice in your head that he says tells you “You’re a Scumbag. You’ll never achieve this.” (Or something similar.)
There are plenty of names for the negative little voice in your head that says you can’t do stuff. It’s a normal part of who we are, to have this voice. Everyone has it. Even I do. It’s been this way probably for as long as mankind has been around. It’s even talked about in the Bible, and probably other religious texts too. Think and Grow Rich wasn’t the first book about mindset and how to grow wealth…
The thing that EVERYONE needs to learn is to quieten the little voice that is telling you negative stuff. And you have to work on this constantly. The more you do it, the easier it gets. There are a range of scientific papers that prove that positive self-talk is correlated with both success and happiness. And you CAN control it.
Now don’t get me wrong. The lesson is “The First Step Is I Can” but there will be things that you can’t do. Perhaps not yet. Perhaps not ever.
But if there is something that you really want to do there will be a way. It may just be you need to consider a creative way and the path to success may involve a few steps. You mightn’t be able to fly by flapping your arms. But you sure can learn to hang-glide or kite-surf.
The thing to remind yourself EVERY DAY, and maybe THROUGHOUT your day, is that you CAN DO what you want to do. Want to be a successful property investor that earns $50,000 in cashflow? You CAN do it. Want to get a new job? You CAN do it. Want to ask that hot girl/guy on a date? You CAN do it. Want to get fit? You CAN do it. Want to learn to swim? You CAN do it. Want to overcome some other limitation, or depression, or whatever? You CAN do it.
The First Step Is I Can.
The thing to watch out for is that the minute you start to push your boundaries on things that you haven’t done before, that little voice in your head may start to tell you that you can’t. This is a lie. You Can.
I believe that one of the most destructive words in the English language is the four-letter “C Word” – “Can’t“. And I’m placing a ban on it. When it comes to being able to do stuff, “Can’t” is not allowed. Only Can.
Instead of saying to yourself “I Can’t do this”, ask yourself “How Can I Do This?”. The answer you get will be so much more rewarding.
Now. A word of warning. Despite everything I’ve just said, you may find yourself rationalising why you “Can’t” do something.
“Sure it’s fine for Mark Kelman to say this, but things are different for me. [Insert Excuse Here].”
The gift I’m giving you is to be able to recognise that when you are thinking this,
it’s only your negative little voice telling you this to “keep you safe” (but to hold you trapped where you are) and if you choose to embrace a bit of the unknown, and DO something that you’ve not done before, you can become the New You that you want to be. A happier You that does stuff, and owns things, and helps people.
If you need to, write yourself a note, or on your hand, or set a reminder in your smart-phone for every 5 minutes (whatever it takes), to remind you, to tell your little voice that you CAN do whatever it is you want to do. The negative little voice needs to be quieter and you need to keep remembering that you can do what you want to do. Then you just have to figure out how, and then do it.
And whenever you are tackling something new, remember The First Step Is I Can.
Keep it up, and eventually the little voice will catch on and tell you the right stuff, most of the time. But everyone’s little voice can be a slow learner, so be patient with it.
But above all, remember The First Step Is I Can.
Thanks Professor Buddle for such a valuable lesson. I hope your pigs are well 🙂
Merry Christmas.
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