What’s the best investment you can make? Some people invest in hard assets such as stocks, bonds, and real estate; others invest in collectibles. But there’s a better alternative. Let me give you a hint: It can’t be taxed, it can’t be reduced by inflation, and it won’t wear out or depreciate like driving a new car out of the showroom. Furthermore, it’ll enrich your life and make it more rewarding in untold ways. The fact is, there’s only one investment that will never go down — an investment in yourself.
Some people intuitively know that personal development is critical, but they either feel they’ve spent lots of years in school, or think they can’t find the time, or think they already know everything there is to know about everything. So personal development is relegated to the backburner.
Those who think that learning is over upon graduation are sadly mistaken. As Albert Einstein said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” There are five critical areas that you should address. They are:
- building a reservoir of knowledge
- mastering critical skills
- gaining valuable experience
- forming a beneficial mindset and
- developing a strong moral character
Never Be Too Busy to Learn
Build a reservoir of knowledge. Just because you have unlimited access to information these days doesn’t guarantee you’re benefitting from it. It’s important to be curious, discerning, open-minded, and careful that the information you receive is of high quality — credible, accurate, objective, comprehensive, and of course, relevant in some way. Everything you learn is like money in the bank.
Master critical skills. Skills are tools that you use to apply your knowledge. Examples include critical thinking, problem solving, interpersonal communication, stress reduction, and time management. It’s important to refine your skills by always remembering that practice makes perfect. Conversely, practice doesn’t make perfect if you’re doing it wrong.
Gain valuable life experience. Professional development shouldn’t be limited to formal work experience; you can learn as much from playing a sport or learning to play a musical instrument. The truth is, performing the activity isn’t what counts; it’s the know-how gained from the encounter. You’ll learn valuable lessons every time you leave your comfort zone, set stretch goals, accept feedback, reflect on your experience, and learn from mistakes and failures.
Form a beneficial mindset. Every experience that you have will shape your mindset and your view of the world. You’ll learn such things as the power of positive thinking, how to face adversity, the importance of determination, how to confront your weaknesses, and how to rebound from disappointment.
Develop a strong moral character. Senator Alan Simpson said it well, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”
Personal development is a building process in which all the aha moments that you have are cumulative — and are added to your toolkit.
Make the Investment — Strive to Become a Better You
Some folks don’t make the effort to better themselves. They wake up disillusioned after years of inattention and neglect and realize the world has passed them by. This often leads to frustration, resentment, and even anger. The fact is, you can’t treat personal development like going on a crash diet for being out of shape. Personal development is a continuous building process that requires time, effort, and personal commitment. If you think the world is going to stand still because you’re not interested or motivated to make an investment in yourself, you’re sadly mistaken; unless you learn something new every day, you’re becoming obsolete. Learning is as much an attitude as it is an activity. If you don’t make the commitment, don’t complain about the outcome. Take a few moments each week to invest in yourself. You’ll be glad you did. It’s the best investment you can make.
Do You Invest in Yourself?
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Frank God bless you so much you are my role model. you always inspire and motivate me
Frank Sonnenberg says
Thank you, Peter. That means a lot to me 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to write.
John Sifonis says
Frank, your article on “Best Investment ” was one of your best! Being inquisitive is a great way to build knowledge. It has been my experience that even if you learn something that isn’t in your field, eventually it will be of value. because it increase your knowledge base. Information ages over time; knowledge doesn’t.
My undergraduate studies were in the hard sciences. The most important thing I learned was “Critical Thinking.” How to get to the root cause of a situation or problem and if I didn’t have the knowledge to solve it, I could find the people who did. You don’t have to be the best in your field, just be good at critical thinking.
With respect to beneficial mindset, a mentor told me: “it isn’t how many times you get knocked down, what counts is how many times you get up.” Everyone goes through bad patches; they don’t last forever and a good mindset helps you get to the end sooner.
Developing a strong moral and ethical compass is the most important investment a person can make. It doesn’t take long for people to determine your moral character; you can only hide your true character for so long. A colleague I worked with came across as a great, smart individual on first encounters. Over time, his actions were focused on personal gain at the expense of colleagues and friends.
Frank, your articles are provide fundamental guidelines for life — personally and professionally. You were always a great example of how people should treat each other.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Thanks so much, John. It means a lot to me coming from you.
I learned so much from you when we worked together at Arthur Young / Ernst & Young (EY). When you work for a consulting firm, as we did, it’s critical to learn every day.
No one exemplified that trait better than you. You have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and learning. Some would think once a person reaches a senior level (as you did) the desire to learn diminishes. That’s clearly wasn’t the case with you. Thank you for being a good friend and mentor. I will cherish the time that we spent together forever.
Thanks for taking the time to write 🙂