From Our Desk to Yours

An editorial by Michael Simmons

Christmas … 2018

I was going to start this letter by reflecting on how quickly this year has sped by … until I was reminded that time appears to slow down for objects (like you and me) in motion. In fact, depending on one’s perspective; time itself is relative. The faster we go, the slower time appears to move. We call this time dilation. And, since the key to deciphering that time is not a constant is tied to the Theory of Relativity,  that might explain why I decided not to go down that temporal rabbit hole. But, just case you are interested, here’s the equation:. (Editorial note: just to be clear, none of this has any applicability to time adjustments for an appraisal. Different calculus – and very different curriculum.)

But it does raise a ‘philosophical’ issue. Can (and should) we slow down and look back on our journey this year? Did our experiences offer positive or negative teachable moments? Will those lessons aide us in being better prepared to face 2019? Ok, ok … I know what you’re going to say, it was starting to feel like time was dilating there for a minute. The answer though is a resounding YES to all of the above questions. But what does that mean?

Every experience, each teachable moment, all of the time we spent happy, angry, confused, scared or just paralyzed changes us. However, unlike time, which we’ve learned is relative, change is dynamic. It happens to us every day in ways big and small, seen and unseen, impactful and unrecognizable. I used to hate change. I was wrong. While I can’t honestly say I love change, I will say I embrace it. Even the change that my experience tells me is wrong, I try to understand it. I’ve come to believe that, in the understanding, I can either find acceptance or I can join in challenging the change. Change for all of us is, in fact, inescapable. In our lives, our professions and our industry. And the promise of 2019 is more change. So yes – let’s look back while we prepare for tomorrow.

But let’s not forget how important today is. Most of us equate the holiday’s as a season of giving when, for most, it’s more a season of receiving. There’s nothing wrong about being a recipient. Personally, I’ve always been uncomfortable about receiving gifts, even when I was a child. Ignoring the more obvious character defects that imply about myself; today I try to understand the kindness and sharing that comes from someone gifting – and accept it with grace. (another Editor’s note: if you’d seen some of the ties and sweaters I’ve been ‘gifted’ over the years, you’d understand that ‘grace’, like time, is also relative…).

I was told once that, in order to keep something, you have to give it away. In the beginning, that was not an intuitive statement for me and I struggled with the message. It took until I was able to translate the phrase ‘give it away’ to really mean sharing before I understood. Here are some thoughts on sharing and grace from last year at this time that I would like to offer again:

  •  Share. Make a gift or donation to something or someone new. Whether your allegiance runs to those with two legs or four – or no legs at all – it all counts. The value of a gift matters less than the act of giving. A single brick builds little, but enough bricks can build a home, or a neighborhood, or a world. Very few of us have the ability to save the Whales (or Polar Bears or Gorillas or starving children in parts of the world we’ve never seen) on our own. But all of us have the power to add our voice, our treasure, our time and our energy to help. And that collective effort can change our world. Whether it’s an extra warm coat you can donate, or a can of food, or a book, or just spare change – you’ve given far more than that gift alone. You’ve given hope … and that’s priceless.
  • Listen. Take the time to listen to someone or something that doesn’t fit your belief system. The act of listening is what’s important. It builds a path to understanding and respect.
  • Forgiveness. This is a hard one. I had to start with forgiving others before I could forgive myself. My Dad reminded me that forgiveness was not a sign of weakness but of strength. Toughest man I ever knew, my father. He always forgave – but never excused – me when I failed.


Do something for another outside of your comfort zone and experience the powerful feeling of a larger community. And no matter where your sentiments lie – or to whom you commune within your most private moments … Happy Holidays.


All of us at AXIS want to thank each and every one of you for your professionalism and dedication to accurate Valuations – Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

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