I’m a commercial real estate developer and a pilot. Here are 3 things flying taught me about my career

Meg Epstein
Sep 18 · 3 min read

Terrifying. Amazing. Exhilarating. Incredible. It’s hard to describe being at the controls of an airplane. It’s as if you’ve transcended every limitation — even gravity.

I had wanted to fly an airplane ever since I was young, and I still count chasing down that dream as one of the best decisions of my life. Why? Let me explain.

What if you could take a college course and not only learn everything in the syllabus (and get credit for it) but simultaneously absorb knowledge — just by showing up — that would prepare you for success in a dozen other classes? That’s what training for my pilot’s license was like.

Yes, I learned how to fly airplanes, and I can’t overstate how exciting and gratifying that was. But the experience taught me much more than that. It taught me about the power of resilience; how to manage my emotions in tough situations; and perhaps most importantly, how embracing my fear and discomfort can lead me to rewarding opportunities.

It also taught me more specific lessons I carry with me every day as a commercial real estate developer. Although I find myself encountering eve more as time goes by, these are what I consider the “big three.”

1. Never rush

There’s plenty of time, plenty of opportunities, and plenty of rewards right around the corner. No matter how strong the urge is to get something off the ground, I’ve learned the invaluable lesson of moving methodically down a checklist. And when there are clouds rolling in or the weather looks iffy, that is not the time to toss caution to the wind. It may not be your life that’s at stake in a real estate deal, but it could definitely be your career.

2. Great things don’t always come easy

In fact, they rarely do. Getting my pilot’s license was expensive, time-consuming, and challenging. There were times it would have been easier to put my focus elsewhere. But I’m glad I stuck with it. It was worth playing the long game, and it’s something I can point to in my life as a testament to my ability to persist. You don’t go up in the air without being prepared for some turbulence, and you don’t go into a finance meeting or contract negotiation without being prepared for some, too. Challenge doesn’t mean it’s over; often it just means it’s time to persevere.

3. The risk is worth it

Developers usually take on the biggest risks when it comes to creating or renovating a piece of commercial real estate, and I’ll admit that this was never a hard part of my job to accept, seeing as how I enjoy a well-calculated risk. Still, flying has helped drive this truth home: risk-taking is about more than a few moments of excitement; it can be a singular path to success and achievement.

Flying is my continuing education. What’s yours?

You don’t need to pilot an airplane to be good at real estate development. You do, however, need an edge. Many aspects of commercial development come down to competition, and a good developer (or doctor, musician, or parent, for that matter) benefits from constantly being in competition with herself, challenging the status quo to find and shore up the weak spots.

If flying interests you, I strongly encourage you to pursue it — but there’s just as much to learn down here on the ground. The question is, what will you do with it?

Meg Epstein

Written by

Commercial Real-Estate Developer & Visionary | Founder & CEO — CA South Development | http://casouthdevelopment.com/

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