Rules for Life as a CAM*

Rules for Life as a CAM*

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM / Published May 2018

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The life of a manager can be very challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. The people you meet, the knowledge you gain, and the lives you touch and who touch you are priceless. But as a manager, you can be dragged away and lose your way if you don’t refocus regularly. Below are some helpful reminders of how and on what to refocus based on Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Stand Up Straight

       You have been hired by a board of directors to perform many or sometimes most of their tasks. You and your board of directors are then responsible for managing a multi-million-dollar Florida corporation. That puts you as the CAM in a similar role as a city manager working on behalf of a city council to manage a municipality. This is a professional position. Your attitude, speech, decorum, and walk should reflect the responsibility and the pride of your position.

       As a professional, your salary package should reflect the position. In addition to an annual salary, be sure to negotiate benefits in your employment agreement, such as PTO (paid time off), annual salary adjustments, medical insurance, time off for continuing education and professional networking events, payment of license fees and continuing education tuition and industry networking dues, additional compensation for certain deferred maintenance or capital improvements projects, reimbursement for travel expenses, exit package, retirement or disability provisions, etc.

       Realizing that many managers work for management companies and have a portfolio of communities to oversee, managers should not agree to take on more properties than they can reasonably handle and still return telephone calls and emails in a timely manner. Portfolio managers need to know exactly what type of assistance they will have access to and/or what departments will be supporting their efforts; i.e., accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, estoppel, etc.

Hang Out with People Who Make You Better

       Most successful managers have learned that two or three heads are better than one. They have learned to act interdependently instead of independently. That is, they have recognized their own strengths and limitations. They recognize the strengths in others and are not threatened by them. Instead, they have learned how to involve others to compensate for their limitations. Surround yourself with people who know about things you don’t. Do not neglect networking and educational opportunities. The more connections you can make, the better you will be.

Compare Yourself to Yourself, Not Someone (or Something) Else

       There is a saying that is hard to disprove—all unhappiness comes from comparison. That includes comparisons like these:

  • Compared to what I think I should have or compared to what you make, my salary is not enough to make me happy.
  • Compared to where I think I should be in life (or what my father/mother expects), I’m not there, and that makes me unhappy.
  • Compared to the rule I have of finishing my daily “to-do” list, I didn’t get it done, so I had a bad day.
  • Compared to the expectation I have of people being nice, someone was nasty to me, so I had a miserable night.
  • Compared to my expectation that nothing bad should happen to me because I am a nice person, life is unfair to me because I had a car accident today.

       This is not to say there is not legitimate occasional depression or even clinical depression. Just be sure to check your expectations and comparisons first to see if that is where the unhappiness comes from.

Pursue What is Meaningful to You

       Successful people have a goal—a dream. It’s something they want to do or be or a contribution they want to make, a change to make life better for others. Sometimes their goal or dream came to them in early childhood, sometimes in high school, and for still others later in life, maybe even after 20 years in a career they really didn’t like.

       Successful managers who pursue a goal or a dream will spend time developing the character and skills they need to reach that goal. They engage in meaningful studies, activities, and relationships that move them closer to their goal.

Tell the Truth

       When you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said! If you can’t tell the truth (that dress looks lovely), just don’t lie. The sister to “tell the truth” is fulfilling promises, like “I’ll call you back with an answer.” Keep your promises, or don’t make one if you don’t mean it.

Accept Help When Tired, Grumpy, and Impatient

       There is no shame in asking for help. We all get overloaded, and we all get sick or just plain worn out sometimes. If you have people around you who are good for you, they don’t mind helping you at all. It’s better for them to help than endure your impatience.

Gratefulness Kills Greed, Bitterness, and Jealousy

       There was once a famous rich man who was asked, “How much money is enough?” His answer: “Just a little more.” A heart that chooses to be grateful will have no room for greed, bitterness, or jealousy. Yes, gratefulness is an attitude, and you have absolute power over your attitude. You are the one who chooses to be grateful (or not).

Help Those You Love to be Better Persons

       Investing in others’ development is fulfilling. As a parent, remember how you felt when your little one learned to walk or talk. Participating in his or her development was thrilling. You can continue that same delight by investing time (not money) in the lives of those you love and with whom you work. That investment begins and continues with the art of listening. One mother decided to become a “student” of her son and learn all she could about him. She did this by asking meaningful questions and listening. She skipped the “mother lecture” tendency.

How Do You Live Tomorrow?

       Determine that tomorrow, just as today, you choose to do good. You choose to be helpful, cheerful, encouraging, resourceful, diplomatic, personable, supportive, decisive, and careful.

How Will People  Remember You?

       Live today and tomorrow the way you want to be remembered. Imagine yourself at your 95th birthday with family, friends, and colleagues gathered around. If they were to write a tribute for you on your birthday, how would you like them to describe you?

*Adapted from 12 Rules for Life, an Antidote to Chaos, by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology. 

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM

Florida CAM Schools

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact, (352) 326-8365, or