About a year ago I was convinced by my brothers to start investing into the stock market. They both had had some pretty amazing success and painted the picture for me that this is a certain way to make some quick money.
Well, it's been a bumpy ride. Sure, one of my stocks has increased over 70%, but many others have not been as good, and one has performed exactly the opposite as my best. I've learned a lot and invest smarter now, but I've also learned that stocks are not the best investment you can make. The best investment that you can make is investing in YOU!
Why? Well, as long as people are following you (and they are), they will be able to go only as far as you go. If you're not growing, they won't be growing!
Over the years I've invested thousands of dollars and even more in time to my personal development. This has not been easy. At times it has been a financial strain. It has meant getting up at 5 AM, using my discretionary time to develop instead of staying current with sports or entertainment. It means using every free moment, and all of my time in the car, to listen to or read about ways that I can improve myself or increase my capacity. In fact, I've been so dedicated that I look forward to vacations, not just for the fun, but for a chance to finally read something simply for the pleasure of it.
Investing in yourself first may look selfish to some of the people around you. They may even criticize you for it. But if they do, they don't really understand how growth works. When airline flight attendants explain that during an emergency, you should put on your own mask before putting masks on your children, is that being selfish? Of course not! As a leader, you are responsible for your people - whether that be your family members, your direct reports or any others that follow you. They are depending on you! If you're in no shape to lead well, where does that leave them?
What I've been able to see in my life is a pattern: when the supervisor gets better, the employees do; when the parents get better, the kids do; students get better after their teacher does; and customers get better after the salespeople do. It's a universal principal - "You cannot lead others until you first lead yourself" (Harry Truman). This is possible only when you invest in yourself first.
May I suggest that you do so by following the three beginning steps below:
Develop a person plan for growth. What are you going to do daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to invest in yourself. At minimum read daily, completing at least one growth-oriented book per month. (See my growth plan below)
Go to workshops and conferences. Yes, these are often costly, but they are also great catalysts to personal growth. Be sure to do your research so that the event you attend is aligned with your goals.
Turn your phone into a learning tool. Download TED talks, subscribe to Audible, upload motivational/self-improvement CDs, purchase growth-oriented Kindle books. Your phone is always with you, never loose a moment to learn something more.
Reflect through journal writing (6:50-7:00am)
Read 30 minutes of scriptures (7:00-7:30am)
Read 30 minutes in a growth-oriented book (8:00-8:30am)
File & tag in Evernote good things, such as stories and quotes, that I've come across (8:30-8:40am)
Every other day, read more (typically around 9:30 at night for abt 30-60 minutes)
Do one thing outside of my comfort zone (typically this is cold calling)
Listen to at least 3 hours of instruction (TED talks, podcasts, instruction from the John Maxwell team, church conference messages, usually done while traveling)
Run at least 4 times for at least 2 miles (keeps the head clear)
Nourish the spirit for 3 hours through Sunday worship
Read at least 2 growth-oriented books
Write and post two blogs
Attended 3 conferences that can help me become a better person or better leader
Reflect on the year, set new goals and steps to achieve the goals (Usually between Christmas and New Years)
Acquire at least 40 hours of continuing education credits (to keep my teaching/admin licenses)