The Impact Of Participation And Learning To “Play My Own Game”

Jan 21, 2023 | Capstones & Spotlight

This is a Capstone Project from a member within The Guardian Academy (TGA). A Capstone is one of the requirements for a member to complete if they wish to ascend to the final tier of TGA, Guardian. In her Capstone, Nicole (Wolf Pup #3510) illustrates how TGA and CCA principles can be utilized in real world scenarios. She demonstrates the power of participation, multi looped learning, and the impact “playing your own game” can have on one’s life. Have a read through and if you were able to gain a new perspective from her knowledge be sure to share with her. You can check out the “Additional Resource” section at the bottom for links to be able to further connect with her and or read more about TGA Capstone Projects.

Secret To Success

Hello to all! I am Nicole, I reside in sunny Arizona for 10+ years and love living in the mountains! I grew up in central, rural Nebraska and spent the majority of my life around agriculture and small town living.

The most important part of TGA/The Wolf Den is the value of having an authentic community, they go out of their way to help, contribute and bring value. In a few short months of being involved in this community, my life has shifted in a dramatic way, I have spent years trying to accomplish this on my own. I am looking forward to deepening my experience through participation, learning and giving back to this community, others in my circle and complete strangers. Pay attention….I am going to give you the Secret To Success….it is simple,

Live To Learn, Give To Earn!!!

My journey as a real estate investor, short term rental (Airbnb & multiple other booking channels) property manager has been a Rocky Road (not clear in communication), not having a Solvable Problem (SP) and chasing more. I was (still learning and tweaking) violating all of my undefined core principles, both personally and professionally.

Violating My Own Principles

Without realizing or understanding I was violating my own principles, I was doing exactly this and keeping my business stuck in a doom loop. Often when people, myself included, think of violating our principles we think on a large, possibly unethical or illegal scale, such as the 10 commandments. This is not typically how we violate our own principles, at least not for me. In many businesses the attitude is the customer/guest is always right, so we go out of our way to please, be nice, offer generosity and give compassion, leaving ourselves frustrated, depleted and increase our own suffering.

Being Nice

In CCA/Dan Nicholson there is a difference in being respectful and being nice. Why are we nice? This is a way we may choose to protect our own feeling but what we may be doing a dis-service to the other person by withholding a piece of valuable information because we don’t want them to “feel” criticized or we don’t want to hurt their feelings or possibly we are seeking approval. We don’t get to control or pick other people’s feelings. I personally realize I need to disengage from this behavior and not base how I feel by their response. I can regulate my own feeling without attempting to regulate their response or feelings.


Being nice, this can turn into being disrespectful, even when not intended. I have a cleaner who is in her early to mid 20’s and has clearly experienced a lot of traumas in her life, this trauma/suffering controls her behavior. After several months of encouraging her, providing guidance and special accommodations to “help” her succeed, our operations manager and myself were frustrated to say the least, we were being “nice.”

Finally, one day she gave her notice and I wished her well and she proceeded to tell me the details of her next job. In this moment of relief, I opened my mouth and a moment of honesty came out in a kind way. I told her she could keep bouncing from job to job, complaining about each employer but until she resolved her own suffering she would continue to be dissatisfied in work and life. Everything we have talked to you about during the few short months you have been here is a reflection of your suffering.

(Mirror moment realization) Her only response was “I work on becoming a better person everyday.” Why did I wait so long to have an honest, respectful conversation with her? Good question! I was limiting her growth and mine by behaving this way. Fast forward 3 days…She sent me a TG message and asked if we could talk, I agreed to do this. During these 3 days she experienced her new job and was more miserable than before and was able to reflect upon our short but honest conversation. She asked if she could continue employment, guidelines for this to continue were presented and agreed upon.

She went from being a 50% employee to an 80% employee in 3 days, something within her shifted. A couple of weeks later at our team meeting (we start our meetings with an important principle I am leaning into…a forcing function for me) she had a real moment in her life and expressed gratitude and appreciation for the things she is learning, the relationships she is building and the personal growth trajectory she is having and admitted when hired she told herself it was only a job and nothing more…AKA do and be the bare minimum required.

I had been stuck in nice because this is the way I had always done it. I became respectful and saw a breakthrough in this person (and myself), who now fully contributes to the business! Randy Massengale referred to this as encapsulation = good principles and you put a cap on them. In that exact moment of honesty, I started playing my game.

Optimize B4 Maximize

First off I did not know what my SP was and am still micro-stepping into discovery and gaining clarity with time. I have since started putting Bumpers in place, opening loops and am learning to keep them open for as long as it is appropriate. It’s like opening a flood gate to possibilities!

Chasing more: I had begun to implement an owner acquisition program (chasing more) to generate more income, without a SP. After spending a lot of hours hosting coffee chat (in the Wolf Den discord), thought momentum (open loops) started to increase due to hanging out with so many awesome people who contribute and offer value, listening, asking questions, reflecting, journaling, tweeting and so on. Suddenly it hits me, Optimize B4 Maximize. Instead of chasing more properties and acquiring more homeowners: Now I am dialing in on my SP in business.

Higher Quality Guest:

  • Communicate
  • Respectful to the property
  • Following house rules
  • Cleanliness
  • Not disturbing neighbors
  • Checking out at agreed upon time
  • Leaving 5 star reviews
  • Alerting us to possible issues without demanding a refund
  • Door knob is a little loose
  • Clunk when the furnace kicks on

Guest Benefits:

  • Exclusive invite with an optional group join, leaving them optionality to participate or not
  • Early Check In/Late Check Out IF available
  • No pet fee at pet friendly properties
  • Welcome gift
  • Coupons offered by local restaurants
  • Hiking pass to use during their stay
  • Simple first meal kit (spaghetti or similar)
  • Snack (popcorn, chocolate)
  • 1st availability for discounted offers to increase occupancy during shoulder and off seasons
  • Inserting Open Loops here (and everywhere)

Higher Than Average Occupancy For Homeowners:

  • Creates teamwork
  • Referrals
  • Positive interactions with homeowners
  • Increased revenue
  • Higher level guest
  • Less wear and tear
  • Less need for repairs

Solvable Problem

My financial Solvable Problem is becoming debt free and creating a comfortable retirement which includes travel, spending large amounts of time with my daughters and 3 grandchildren, AJ who is 8 and full of energy bright young girl, Maddix who is 6 and was born with a brain disorder on one side of his brain and a brain disease on the other, yet a very happy kid despite his disabilities, and James 2 and a half, being his observant, intuitive self (hoping for another one in the near future and of course I am biased with those grandkids) being part of communities and projects that bring value to other, such as TGA and locally Verde Valley Search and rescue. While I will participate in these things prior to retirement, I look forward to the day when I can participate on a larger scale.

Macro Belief

My Macro Belief is Guard/BUSD LP because I see the ecosystem this community works hard to create. Every day I see Live to Learn, Give to Earn being demonstrated from active members of this community. Simple for me, I believe in them, their values and their dedications to themselves and others.
Resource Allocation has been at the top of mind for quite some time now and I am learning and implementing this into my life and business as much as I know how.

The Reality

I am a time optimist and always have been until recently showing restraint and reeling this in. I have always packed my schedule so full, not leaving time or space for anything to occur and when it did, my entire schedule fell apart, leaving me with a feeling of defeat. The ironic thing is, I would get up and do it all
over again, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year…DOOM LOOP!

This is the perfect time to point out Time and Randomness are undefeated – meaning time is always going to pass and random things are going to occur. Dan Nicholson, Rigging the Game book and Nic Peterson, Bumpers book talk about this vary thing in their own style. Dan teaches engineering luck by removing asymmetry to the downside and creating asymmetry to the upside. Nic explains how to put bumpers in place to stop bad things from happening. Every time I read the book, go back and read pages again I learn something new.

What Does This Mean Exactly?

I started intentionally leaving gaps in my day and opportunities started to “magically” appear BUT not just any opportunities, opportunities that can change the trajectory of business and/or life, in positive ways I could not dream of or imagine. This brings me to my next point.

Resources are NOT unlimited, none of us have unlimited time, energy and most of us don’t have unlimited money. When I recaptured some of my time, much to my surprise nothing changed, meaning my business did not suffer, personal relationships did not suffer and both actually improved using less resources.

This allowed me to take some time and reallocate and define priorities. I personally picked 2 priorities.

  1. Time spent in relationships
  2. Related to my SP in business and the resources needed

What this did for me was the time/energy resources in relationships allowed for more focused and intentional interaction, which equates to quality time spent vs quantity of time spent. Deeper connections with less time and energy spent, allowing time, and energy to be recaptured. Reallocation of time created more time. Secondly I was able to reallocate business resources by naming ONE financial priority and basing my decisions around this one priority by defining a date and dollar amount. This contributes to likely reaching my SP sooner than anticipated. When something occurs the question becomes “does this fit the business financial priority?” It also has to not take away from my time priority. If both the time and financial priority are met, the answer becomes yes, if not the answer is no, accelerating my SP in the right direction.

This gives me velocity over speed and I am collapsing time.

All of this allows for personal and business rhythms without being completely wrecked! Cal Arnold – CCA Graduate explains this beautifully in his presentation. I would encourage you to watch and listen to his presentation multiple time and then let it sink in. Matter of fact, you can gain a lot of value and insight from all CCA graduates and their presentations.

Here is the major shift that is happening in my business by applying what Cal talks about. I know every January the business generates very minimal income as it is our off season. Yet every January I would have major cash outflow preparing for busy season which launches midFebruary. I already know what will be needed for this time of year, so instead of waiting for January to prepare, I began the preparation for the busy season by breaking into chunks every month. Even though a short time period this has already created a positive shift, decreased mental, and financial stress.

One other big take away has been the concept of the Barbell. I was leaving most everything in the middle of the barbell both personal and business, not
exploring or exploiting.

My Process Consist Of 3 Questions

  1. Should I spend my time exploring this possibility knowing it is going to take significant time and energy, considering if I have the needed resources available or not.
  2. Should I exploit what I already know, utilizing what is already available, utilizing less time and energy.
  3. Remove the item all together at this point and time.

Moving items to the proper side of the barbell and full removing items that don’t need to be on the barbell at all has brought clarity, utilized multiple resources in a different way, decreased risk, increased productivity in less time and created asymmetry to the upside. Gaining clarity has created additional bandwidth to create sustainable goals and start simple by doing only 1 thing consistently each week, which comes back to my SP. This process has also allowed me to recognize the need for Bumpers and naturally put them in place and I can see the over corrections consistently decreasing.

Receiving the benefits above is more than I could have ever hoped for but there is so much more. Opportunities arise every day, things I could not have possibly imagined or desired, invite only invitations, business and personal opportunities “magically appearing” (engineering luck), strained relationships shifting, personal and professional connections and so much more.

This has become a lifelong journey and discovery process. I have begun to remove my own suffering, put Bumpers in place, dial in my SP, feel connections to others through a common language, and my sleep cycle is very close to being regulated, which has been a major challenge for 15 years.

This is all a natural byproduct of participating and playing my game! I can only imagine it is going to continue to get better and better.

Live to Learn, Give to Earn!

A special THANK YOU to our leaders, Nic Peterson, Dan Nicholson, the leaders they gift to us, Joe Polish, Randy Massengale, Dr. Jeff Spencer and many others. Our community leaders who have impacted my life on a daily basis and who I now consider my family, including my Space Jam friend Scott Perry and all of my family and friends who put up with my craziness

I.F. You Can! (Intentional Forward, You Can!)

Nicole Richards

Additional Resources

Follow Nicole On Twitter

Original Tweet

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DISCLAIMER: These articles are for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as financial advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any sort of security or investment. Consult with a professional financial adviser before making any financial decisions. Investing in general and options trading especially is risky and has the potential for one to lose most or all of their initial investment.