"Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!"

That quote never had an impact on me the first time I saw the last installment of the Rocky sequels.  I came across it on a day I was searching the internet for something inspirational.  Something to lift my spirits above the painful, slow torture that mortgage loan originating had become.  Something to keep me from crossing the line that I so desperately wanted to cross... 

I had prepared a piece that I was sure would ensure my place in the hall of blame.  Yellow draft paper was covered with vengeful words scribbled as I gleefully took sarcastic shots at the collective IQ or value of different players in the housing industry, federal government, politicians, banksters, etc, ad nauseum.  I could barely read my writing because my habit of hand to heart first drafts had channeled some maniacal demon, hell bent on bringing down the whole dysfunctional mess I believed housing had become.

The culture of blame is so easy to join!  It requires so little thought.  No new perspective.  None of that "putting yourself in other people's shoes" touchy feely garbage that is so out of vogue these days...  The more clever the insult, the more vitriolic the language, the deeper I found myself drawn to abandoning the angst of rational thought.  I spent hours refining the anger, sharpening the edges, ready to lash out at everyone who was making it so hard for me to get what I knew I was worth.

 Just as I was about to hit the post button, I came across the Rocky clip.

"Cowards do that and that ain't you.  You're better than that."

Those words resonated with a more evolved version of my psyche, and after watching the scene about 25 times in a row, I knew he was right.  I continue to watch it regularly and it made me think about what I wrote a few weeks ago regarding "new beginnings," and that we could use some ground rules.  Here's one to get us started off.  What are your thoughts?

 Ground Rule #1: Blame Is Not Allowed 

It has not been easy. I watch customers struggle with a guilty until proven innocent underwriting philosophy, with looming regulatory change only likely to add more challenges as the media and politicians continue their fifth year of mortgage industry bashing. On those really bad days, I fight the reflex to aim that index finger (or perhaps another finger) at whomever I think is more responsible for the state of housing than me.

I am retraining myself to approach each loan with an attitude of respect for everyone I do business with. Reading the posts and chats within this blog and other housing related sites I realize how disconcerting it must be for consumers to see so much infighting between people they know will be working together at some point to get their financing done.  

If that is obvious to me, it must be obvious to the regulatory, media and political powers that be.  How can they seriously consider the pleas they hear to "get out of our business" if we are handling our business with each other without respect?   

The amazing thing about having respectful conversations rather than accusatory arguments is common ground begins to develop.  The more I give the benefit of the doubt, hold back a kneejerk response to a problem that develops, and respect that I really don't know how tough it is for that appraiser, escrow officer, realtor, pricing desk, investor, underwriter, to do their jobs, the more I find things are getting better for both me and my customers.

Most of us have taken huge hits over the last five years just trying to stay in business, constantly adapt, and still protect and educate our customers.  We've even learned to hit back. 

"But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward."

It's time to move forward, and leave the blame game behind.

"That's how winning is done!"