We Are Stronger Than We Will Admit. Think about what we just went through! That was not easy and here we are talking about it. Now, it is not over yet and if I had to guess, it probably never will be “over”. I remind myself to think about the last year and appreciate everything I encountered that I viewed as a “struggle”. Got through it all and then some. We are strong and capable of more than we do or admit. Finding that inner strength and motivation was a good reminder of that.
With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life.
As a part of this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, I had the pleasure to interview James Watson.
James Watson is the owner of Omaha Homes For Cash, a professional house flipping company in Omaha, Nebraska. He has also worked as a full-time registered nurse for the last seven years. Both the housing industry and healthcare have been hit hard by the pandemic, something he says has only made him a stronger person and business leader.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and been fortunate enough to call it home for a large majority of my life. I went through college without much direction on what exactly I wanted to do. Somehow, I ended up working part-time in the hospitals to help pay for school. This path grew into a love of helping people and my nursing career was born.
I always said I had the coolest job in the world being a nurse. I got paid to meet and interact with total strangers on a daily basis. By the end of each shift, I made it a point to make sure I had left a positive mark on that person and their family, even if it was minor. This is what led me to being a successful nurse, but also something I carried over into building a successful house flipping business. If we can leave even the smallest of positive impressions on every person we interact with, we are succeeding at making this world just a little bit better each day.
Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?
Yes and no. My nursing career, as you may guess, has not slowed down any with the pandemic. My house flipping business went more remote for an extended time period. People still needed to sell their homes, but we were seeing a lot of hesitancy and resistance to any in-person interactions. This meant more time spent interacting online, on video calls with clients, and working from the home office.
I think the biggest adjustment came on the nursing side of things. Just the unknowns of the day-to-day operations as the world was changing around us. For months it seemed like every hour there was a briefing on new protocols that were to be implemented and followed. Things were constantly changing and that created doubt and fear on where we were headed and if what we were doing was going to prove to be correct when the dust cleared. It was a scary time for the world and that most definitely carried over into healthcare.
What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?
I miss being carefree in everything I do. That is not to be confused with carelessness, but just being able to go about a day without analyzing the potential risks of every single action and interaction. If I want to go visit my parents, hug my parents, or take them out to dinner, I can no longer just do that without analyzing the risks of doing so. I miss living with that sense of freedom.
The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?
I am hopeful that we see more value placed on the time we have with our loved ones. Pre-pandemic I was always so bothered by how little value we placed in our interactions with the people around us. If you took the time to observe everything going on around you, you could see how consumed we are with technology.
My hope is that with many people being isolated for so long, we gain back that satisfaction of human interaction and affection. I am hopeful that we make the most of our future opportunities to bond and be truly present with our loved ones.
What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.
All you hear is about how bad this pandemic is. And it truly is a devastating situation for a million reasons. With that being said, there are some huge positives that came from this period of time.
I think society was getting to a point where we were placing too much value on online acceptance. We were so consumed with the technology that we took for granted the little stuff. I am as guilty of it as anyone.
My hope is that the isolation as a result of the pandemic has allowed society to reevaluate what really matters at the end of the day. With all that has been taken from us, there is so much that is ready to be given to us. Hugs, love, support, visiting with family and friends; even the small things like dining out and grabbing a beer after work. All of these things are important.
The isolation, at least for me, has allowed me to do some serious soul searching and self-improvement. We are so much stronger as humans than we want to give ourselves credit for. We can overcome and achieve anything. I know this was pounded into our heads when we were young, but I truly believe that.
An example of this is how I took the time to lay out the goals I wanted out of life. Not the monetary achievements or the social acceptance. I laid out goals of what I wanted for my life, my family’s life, and how I wanted to spend my day-to-day positively impacting people.
I used the time to self-educate on how to achieve those goals. And I used that time to lay out a plan on how to get there. Then I took action.
Had the pandemic not happened, I doubt any of this would have happened. I believed I was “comfortable” with where I was at in life. Truth is, I was oblivious to the fact that I was underachieving. The things I was striving for did not hold true value. The isolation allowed for forced evaluation of what is important in life. That led to reprioritizing my actions.
How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?
The indefinite shutdown was tough. I feel like as long as there is an endpoint, I can continue pushing on with that endpoint in sight. Without that, there is a sense of hopelessness that is hard to ignore.
I made it a point to think of the lock-up as an “opportunity” rather than a “catastrophic event”. I viewed it as an opportunity for self-growth, education, and an opportunity to create a deeper bond with my fiancé. We also got a second puppy so that helped lighten the mood.
Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?
I was fortunate enough to not have anyone really close to me struggle with their health. I had many friends and relatives contract the virus, but for the most part, everyone tolerated it fairly well.
I think the hardest thing was the constant worry about the health of my parents. I found myself worrying about them becoming ill or passing away from the virus. I find myself worrying about being the one to get them sick without knowing. The worry about getting others sick is what bothers me the most and keeps me up at night.
Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- My Values Pre-Pandemic Were Misaligned. The pandemic was a good reminder for me of just how important everyone around me is. I never forgot who I cared for or how much I cared for them. Rather, I was reminded of how much better I could do. Things like cherishing time spent with each other, telling those around you how much you love them, and offering a helping hand when you can. Those things are so important and when things were taken from me it was a good reminder of just how good we have it.
- We Are Stronger Than We Will Admit. Think about what we just went through! That was not easy and here we are talking about it. Now, it is not over yet and if I had to guess, it probably never will be “over”. I remind myself to think about the last year and appreciate everything I encountered that I viewed as a “struggle”. Got through it all and then some. We are strong and capable of more than we do or admit. Finding that inner strength and motivation was a good reminder of that.
- Regardless of What We Do, The World Will Continue To Move On. This was an important reminder for me. We planned a wedding right in the middle of this pandemic and this exact thought came up so many times over the last 12 months. No matter what we do or do not do, the world is going to continue to hum along. Time will continue to pass and we will continue to get older. I find it more important than ever to capitalize on every moment because that moment will be gone in the blink of an eye. The world does not stop for us and 1 year from now will be in 1 year regardless of what we say, do, or want. So make the most of every moment.
- People Need People. People, in general, need other people. We feed off of affection, acceptance, and interaction. Without them, we are lonely and unfulfilled. There is nothing wrong with showing affection and needing personal connections. That is totally normal. Sometimes I think there is a stigma out there that showing affection can be a weakness. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Say I love you, hold hands, hug your loved ones and never leave a word, feeling, or action left for tomorrow. Live today for you, for your people, and cherish the moment with those people.
- Strong Community is Needed Now More Than Ever. This can mean whatever we want it to, but the principle remains unchanged. I find myself more and more amazed at the sense of community that I have witnessed in my everyday life. Here are a few examples:
During the pandemic, hospitals and healthcare got hit hard. Seeing doctors, nurses, and all health care professionals banding together to find the pandemic head-on was incredible. There was no ego. With tensions high and circumstances changing by the minute I saw incredible teamwork and a pooling of resources. I heard incredible stories like this from all over the country. The “community” came together to fight for one common goal of helping those in need of help.
My neighborhood deserves a shoutout. I remember people in the neighborhood making runs to the grocery store weekly for the elderly folks’ grocery runs. I saw trading and giving of toilet paper (seems silly, but this was a real problem in our country for a while) and cleaning products. I saw neighbors clearing driveways and sidewalks for each other after a snowfall. I saw promotion and overwhelming support of small businesses. This sense of community saved so many people’s lives and improved the well-being of thousands of people.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?
“Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later.” — Dave Ramsey
This quote is one I recited to myself over and over during the last 18 months. It may not seem to fit, but this quote was huge in shaping my life moving forward. The pandemic provided me with an opportunity for self-growth and opportunity. I realize that if I make the hard sacrifices now to get where I want to be, I will be benefiting later in life from those sacrifices. The good stuff is never easy, but that is why it is the good stuff.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Robert Kiyosaki would be the guy. I read his book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and completely changed my life around. That book seriously gave me so much now and will continue to provide for me and my family in the future. I wiped out nearly 100,000 dollars of debt in 2 years and did so with a job that I always considered a “paycheck to paycheck” job. Turns out I was just doing it all wrong and now I have “bought my freedom back” as I like to call it.
Grant Cardone would be right up there at the top as well.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I am very easy to find online. You can follow or contact me through my business pages on Facebook or Instagram @OmahaHomesForCash. I also have a blog that I recently started on gaining financial freedom and building a business. It is still in the infancy stage but will have a bunch of new content coming soon. The blog is www.fishingforhouses.com (I love fishing).
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.