By Cliff Baird

When Napoleon was exiled on an island in the South Atlantic he was not locked up in an iron bar prison. He had a quiet cosy cottage but he could never leave the island. He was, however, allowed to have visitors on rare occasions.

The story is told of a former general who, while he was with Napoleon, observed that the former emperor exhibited a most unusual habit around dusk each evening. Napoleon would walk a well-worn path down from his cottage to the craggy seashore. He would fix his gaze out to sea and his eyes would be riveted through the fog and the evening mist.

His apparent stupor may have been fueled by the intoxicating power of reminiscence. No doubt, his mind would be filled with bygone times of glory. Perhaps his thoughts were often overwhelmed with notions of regret. The eerie, hollow sound of the “what if and if only” would rattle against the backdrop of the darkness and the gloom. Life was passing him by and the awful thing was that he knew it didn’t have to be that way.

One evening during the visit, Napoleon’s diminutive silhouette left the rocks in a frenzy and rushed madly back up the path to the cottage. The visiting general tried to keep pace but arrived some time after Napoleon and found him stomping defiantly, back and forth, in front of a blazing fireplace.

Suddenly Napoleon broke the silence and lunged at a map that was painted above the fireplace and shouted, “If it hadn’t been for this little red dot I would have conquered the world.”  Even his imprisonment did not diminish the arrogance that made him refer to the British Isles as “the little red dot”.

Isn’t it interesting how readily we can find “the little red dot” to explain all of our failures and mediocrity? Failure always accompanies those who refuse to learn from circumstances rather than creating a plan and summoning up the courage to overwhelm them.

Confucius said, “To err is human but to blame someone else is more human.” Santayana said, “Those who refuse to learn from their history will be condemned to repeat it.”

In order for each of us to fulfill the potential of our destiny we must be willing to be held accountable. There may be reasons but there are no excuses. You are in the right place at the right time and influenced with the appropriate circumstances. This is your moment. Don’t slacken your pace. This is the year of your significant breakthrough. No excuses. If you don’t make it, it will be your fault.

Cliff Baird, MBA, PhD is a clinical psychologist and a former professor at Wilfrid Laurier. He has spent more than 35 years in real estate. He created a 32-office franchise, developed several online recruiting profiles, was the keynote speaker for every major real estate franchise in the USA and Canada and was a featured keynote speaker for 12 years in a row at the NAR convention. Visit his website.


  1. If you (REM readers) have not read Cliff’s piece, I strongly suggest that you do. Then I suggest that you go to his web site (Cliff Baird, MBA, PhD). His is a very interesting background. Here are some of his web site statements and a critical question-and-answer all contained within the “About” section.
    “…I will never compromise what I truly believe to merely satisfy the desire of a client. That would lack integrity and would not serve the good of the client.”
    Question: “Why do some make it but most don’t?”
    Answer: “Most individuals lack the intensity of the classic Type A and thereby spend most of their lives giving in to the path of least resistance which only guarantees a life of mediocrity at best.”
    “I fought this realization for a long time trying to remake or retool a person’s natural weaknesses and mould them into someone they unfortunately would never become. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Why? We are all suffering from what I am convinced is the Addiction of Avoidance Behaviour.”
    This is a motivational psychologist dealing with the impediments of human behaviour (Cliff’s own words). With that thought in mind, this is why I think that it is imperative that ORE/RECO et al administer pre-qualifying psychological exams that will tend to weed out the lazy short-cut artists that Cliff speaks of in order to keep them out of the “I wannabe a Realtor and get rich fast” system.
    Want professionals? Make sure wannabe’s are psychologically profiled as such.
    The vast majority of real estate wannabe’s are obviously not cut out to be real estate professionals, but ORE keeps on willy-nilly packin’ ’em in. Why? Because the never-ending stream of money (dues) trumps doing what is foundationally right for the industry and the paying public. This, in my opinion, is proof that the ORE communal bureaucracy exists for itself, first and foremost. Is this not the definition of corruption, even if the corrupt do not realize and/or acknowledge their own corrupt thinking patterns?
    It is not the wannabes’ faults for wanting to jump aboard what they are lead to believe is the real estate sweepstakes gravy train, because that casino’esque mindset that they all have whereby they all are thinking that “I” might be the one to hit the mother load is the norm. We have enough gambler addicts already wasting their money on lottery tickets.
    I realize that I go on and on herein about this problem, but Cliff’s words really do highlight the conundrum. It really is all about psychology.

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