An Investment

As I look back over the things I’ve done and learned while starting and building a business, there’s something I realized I’ve overlooked.  I’ve ignored it or gave little thought to it and it’s surprising because this — I firmly believe — is the key to success.  I’ve talked and written about what the keys are to success.  I’ve argued there weren’t really any “keys”, but an adopted mindset and attitude.  I’ve read numerous articles about what successful people have in common with one another.  I’ve read those articles about the mindsets and patterns of millionaires.  Not just because they’re millionaires, but because they must be doing something right in order to have become millionaires.  Right?  But in between the chatter and the musings and the research, what makes the business owner successful, what makes the entrepreneur a millionaire and what gets the start-up founder funded?  A great marketing strategy?  A knowledgeable board of directors?  Deep-pocketed venture capitalists?  The best idea ever?

No.

It’s the investment.  The investment you make in yourself everyday.   You don’t have to have a whole lot of education, a whole lot of money to start, a whole lot of friends, or whole lot of anything .  You do need to have the time to invest in yourself and seek out investments that will return for you.  I mean, yeah, that may mean getting more education or building up a larger network.  But it really boils down to being better than you were yesterday.  It’s taking the time and looking at what you have offer and making sure you can offer it as best you can.  Outperform yourself.

I’ve tried taking on multiple projects and services thinking that the more I offered, the more clients I’ll gain because the more people I’ll appeal to.  Did NOT happen.  One, it’s hard to spread yourself thin and still be the go-to person for 5,000 things.  Two, I wasn’t equally interested or passionate about everything I was trying to offer.  Thus, many services lacked luster.  Just because I could do it, doesn’t mean I should’ve.  And vice-versa.  It was when I narrowed down what I could offer and would be willing to offer to just 3-5 services and sharpen those skills over and over again, that I noticed myself getting referrals, getting recommended — getting the kind of running start I wanted.  Not because I was trying to be everything to everybody. But, because I invested in myself first.  That, allowed me to better for my clients and it’s paid and continues to pay off.

How do I invest in myself?

  • I sign up for community classes that are of interest to my business and professional goals
  • I take community college classes 
  • I periodically attending networking events
  • I explore the businesses in my community 
  • I talk to other business and aspiring business owners
  • I read — a lot– of articles, magazines, books, blogs, any thing that strikes my fancy
  • I search jobs on Craig’s List to see what employers (business owners) are looking for in candidates who do what I do
  • I take some of those free classes on Coursea, Standford Online or Venture Lab

It’s seems never-ending, which is why it’s something I have to be passionate about.  Because if I wasn’t, I couldn’t do it.  And what would be the point?

3 Things in Life Daily

If you watched the Oscar’s last night, then you know that 12 Years A Slave took home best picture, Cate Blanchett won best lead actress and Matthew McConaughey won best leading actor.  If you didn’t, I’m sure you Googled it and this is not a surprise.  Some of the highs were Pharell’s performance of “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 and P!nk’s cover of “Over The Rainbow” which was splendidly done.  As well as the moment when Ellen claimed she took Pharell’s hat and started hitting up celebrities for money to pitch in pizza, singling out Brad Pitt who only tossed in 20 bucks.  But the moment that stood out for me during the entire show was Matthew McConaughey’ speech accepting best actor.

McConaughey said there were only three things in life he needed daily: something to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase.  Just three things.  Very simple, nothing over the top, nothing complicated.  What where his three things?  God, his family and himself — in that order.  Something to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase.   The first two were easy to follow and he explained quite eloquently how they all tied in.  But when he came to explaining someone to chase  — he had a little story about being asked who his hero was when he was 15 years old — he made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t chasing who is he now, the McConuaghey we saw on stage.  He was chasing who he wanted to be in 10 years from then and 10 years from now.  And that’s how he lives his life.

I’ve never thought about self-development as a chase.  I think of chase as cops and robbers, to an extent.  Being chased — trying to get away.  But Matthew McConaughey’s chase is about working his way towards a better self.  A self that he’s so focused on, so single-minded about, that he makes sure everything he’s doing moves him in that direction.   I’m probably ad-libbing here, but that was my takeaway.  That was my understanding of what he meant to chase himself.  Being so absorbed by a goal — by a state of mind — that nothing deters you.  Not because you’re perfect in every way, but because that’s where you want to be.  That’s what you want so badly, you’ll doing anything for.

Just 3 things he puts his mind to everyday.  Not some bucket list of all things he plans to check off the list before he dies.  Just 3 things.

Whatever it is that you’re working on or working towards, if you could learn to let go of all that you don’t need, what 3 things would you need to propel yourself forward?