“Highest and Best Use.”

October 19, 2020

“Highest and Best Use.”

May 29, 2023

I got my real estate license while in college at age 19. I was subsequently hired to work for my uncle’s commercial real estate brokerage firm in 1980, at a time when Silicon Valley was primarily fruit trees and vacant land.

One of the most fundamental lessons I learned about property development was the concept of “highest and best use,” defined as “that use that would produce the highest value for a property, regardless of its actual current use.” It is often a real estate appraiser who advises and values the highest and best use.

What if you applied this concept to your lifetime? What was your “highest and best use” at age 25 or at age 45, and what will it be at 65 or 75? And, who was your appraiser?

Over the course of your life, you become your appraiser. At least that’s the way it should be. After all, you know your inherent value better than anyone else.

One of the common themes I’ve witnessed amongst the graduates of our Modern Elder Academy is their ability to “repot” themselves in just the right habitat where they can flourish (often because they’ve painfully lived through environments where they didn’t flourish). Psychologists refer to this as “environmental mastery,” the ability to make effective use of opportunities and have a sense of mastery in managing environmental factors and activities.

Mr. or Ms. Modern Elder, here’s a hint about your highest and best use. As we get older, presence prevails over productivity. This doesn’t mean we’re not productive. It just means we start offering “invisible productivity” that makes a team better through our presence and EQ. We become less of a model for human doing and more of a model for human being. Of course, there are scores of people who don’t fit this profile but social science is full of studies that demonstrate that the following workplace qualities grow with age: emotional moderation, empathy, ability to create psychological safety, and a knack for thinking systemically and holistically.

As we approach year-end, maybe it’s time to do a self-appraisal about your highest and best use in 2021?

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