If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster

You may remember this line from the 1990 Clint Eastwood movie “The Rookie.” The fact is that, unless it’s attached to a toaster or other appliance, the housing industry offers no guarantees to its workforce.

In the 1900s, a young man could apprentice himself to a brick mason. He could hang out for a couple of years and earn enough money to buy some tools. Once he mastered the art, there wouldn’t be much else to learn, so he could scrape out a pretty good living laying bricks all his life.

Fast forward to 2010. What would be a lifetime skill now? Even brickmasons have to keep up with changing times. Today, they not only work with brick and mortar, but they also work with structural tiles, stone, concrete and prefabricated panels and facades.

Admittedly, guarantees are great because they promise a certain outcome. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to have a guarantee that, once you mastered the new home sales process, you would be able to coast along the rest of your life without having to make any improvements? Or that, once you got up to speed on the latest technology, you were guaranteed that there would be no upgrades?

That isn’t going to happen, of course. You can’t take it slow and easy in today’s cyber-wired world and be guaranteed success. You must update your skills regularly … or you will be toast.

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