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Who is That Masked Man?

Helen Chorley, investor and former investment banker, presents a cautionary tale for today’s property developers

Not a sound can be heard in the town. Nothing but the slow, warm breeze stirring up the dust. A figure, dressed head to toe in black, stands rooted, hand hovering over the holster. Their face, masked, shows only their intense eyes, fixed forward. Focused. Their target, a few yards ahead is nervous; a solitary bead of sweat threatening to obscure his squinting right eye. Nearby a horse stamps their foot and whips flies off their back with a dirt-crusted tail. Nobody in the town says a word. They all look on, waiting for justice.

In a lightening move, the outlaw whips his hand down to the holster, and yanks the pistol up, firing at speed. But not fast enough. The masked hero has fired just a spilt second before, aiming right into the shoulder, the criminal’s arm flying back and discarding his gun some several feet away. Disarmed, for the last time. The Sheriff and his men swoop in, cuff him and take him off to the jailhouse. The man in black is already mounted and off, dust clouding his trail. Soon, he’s just a spec on the horizon.

‘Who is that masked man, Daddy?’ A bonneted young girl asks her father.

‘That there sweetie…that’s The Lone Ranger.’

What a great character, eh? Compelling for sure. Someone who follows only his own will; who acts alone, now and forever. Needs no consultation. A rebel. An outlaw himself? A hero? Who knows. In a flash, he’s gone again. To another story, in another town.

While there’s something undeniably alluring about The Lone Ranger, in real life - if they were a real person today - I think they’d be having a pretty hard time! They’d be out of touch, for a start. They’d be ‘tricky to work with.’ That mysterious I-answer-to-nobody charm would have long worn off on their first, second and third wives. They would probably have a string of allegations against them. People would ask, ‘who are they really?’ And ‘can we trust someone so cool and detached?’ For some, they might even be a bogeyman figure, a scary bedtime story. A cautionary tale.

Something I’ve seen time and again in real estate (property), is the Lone Developer. Running on self-will, borrowed energy and a growing sense of self-doubt, sometimes dare I say it, self-delusion, they’re pushing on, somewhere over the horizon. They’ve left us all behind. What drives them now? How did they go from team player on the pitch, to a one-man (or woman) disappearing act? In short the answer is: ego.

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