Fork Up! Invest In Yourself

September 5, 2017

 

To put it quite simply, investing in yourself is investing in your wealth. If there is one thing that successful people have in common, it is their willingness to invest in themselves. That investment includes more than taking a break for vacation or treating yourself to that high priced item to reward yourself for work well done, it is about training, coaching and consciously building the skills for career ascent. If you calculate how much you spend on things that do not contribute to your wealth and redirect those funds, you will more than pay for investing in yourself - and the return on investment will correspond.

 

My first boss after university gave me the very best gift that I ever had...a poor performance review. That poor review was due in part to my lack of experience but mostly due to developmental issues that I needed to address. I was devastated and mortified. As someone who had achieved highly at university, this was a real knock to my confidence. That same boss suggested that I take professional development courses. That was the start of my development journey and I am so grateful that it came so early in my career. The correlation between my career growth and income are absolutely attributable to my investment in my development. In addition to training when I was quite junior in my career I noticed that all of the leadership in my business had executive coaches. The company would not pay for me to have one because I was so junior and so I took the plunge myself. It took a year of my savings to pay for it - and a year of savings was about all I had. On the other side of my coaching experience not only did I get an outstanding performance review and a promotion at the end of the year but my bonus was doubled which paid back my savings and then some. I'd transformed my behavior to more closely resemble that of the firm's leadership and it did not go unnoticed. I landed in a pool that the firm called 'Top Talent'. It was then that I recognized that it is about short term sacrifice for long term gain and no matter how great you think you are, you can't do it all on your own. I needed skills that I did not yet possess and wanted a shortcut on the years of experience that it would take for me to learn them - particularly as I wasn't at the level where those skills were a part of my job description.

 

Since then, I have always invested in training and coaching. When my career has stalled, and it has, I always reinvest to move forward. Its kind of like investing in property. You buy it (pay for it), you fix it up (take training or coaching) and you get the value. It amazes me how difficult it is for people to understand that real growth comes from real investment. You are your greatest asset. Your career will be around for a lot longer than frivolous short term expenditures. Invest in yourself. In my last corporate role, I was in the top 300 of a 250,000 person company. I believe that only 50% of my ascent was related to performance. The remainder was related to taking the time to master corporate politics, executive presence, influencing/negotiation and even a course on how to optimally look after my health for peak corporate performance. I spent a lot of hours and money perfecting these strategies and working through my blind spots. I was certainly rewarded for them. There are other factors attributable to my ascent but for purposes of this conversation these are the most relevant.

 

Finally, my one caution with training and coaching is that you get what you pay for. Choose coaches or trainers who have practical experience and who have been there and done it. When I wanted to become a Managing Director, I chose a coach who had been one but only after having spent money on someone who had the right academic experience with no practical experience at all. With coaching and training, experience trumps all. The expense can be daunting, but like I said before, investing in yourself is investing in your wealth.

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