5 Ways to Invest in Yourself

Guest Blog by Kym Wallis

An investment in yourself is the best thing you can do to advance personally and professionally. Whether your goal is to climb up the corporate ladder or build a successful startup, you need to develop certain skills first.

Make no mistake though: Working on yourself isn’t easy. There will be numerous challenges standing in your way. But when you take the steps to improve your performance and consistently put in the effort, new opportunities will open up to you.

Here we’ll look at some of the best ways to invest in yourself.

1. Set Goals

Many people work hard but still seem to be stuck at the same level either personally or professionally. A key reason is simply because they haven’t set goals.

Why is setting goals so important?

Because a goal gives you focus. It helps you better organise your time and resources to accomplish a worthy objective. Goals let you see clear progress in what may have been thought of as unattainable. Even if you have no idea how to accomplish a certain goal, just the act of putting it down on paper gives you a focal point to start brainstorming the first steps.

Set personal and business goals for yourself. Your goals should be SMART which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Writing your goals down in this manner provides a strong foundation for seeing things through.

2. Read More Books

What do some of the most successful entrepreneurs have in common?

They’re voracious readers.

Successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates read 50 books a year. “Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently,” says Gates. “Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which I think helped drive me forward in my career.”

He’s not alone either. Other entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have made reading a daily habit for several reasons. It provides mental stimulation and exposes you to new ideas. Everything you read also builds up like compound interest.

Books like ‘Good to Great’ and ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ are great starting points. But don’t ignore fiction books either. Elon Musk credits the Lord of the Rings with shaping his vision of his future self.

Making reading a daily habit is one of the best ways to invest in yourself.

3. Take Care of Your Health

Data from the World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the deaths arising from non-communicable diseases include cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes – most of which are preventable with a healthy lifestyle and diet. By taking better care of your health you greatly reduce the risk of being diagnosed with such diseases.

Make regular exercise part of your daily routine and focus on eating healthier. Replace sugary sodas with water and incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Just these two alone will get you on the right track towards a healthier lifestyle, resulting in fewer health problems later on.

Although there are exceptions, you can’t hope to achieve anything meaningful if you’re constantly sick or bedridden. Make the choice to invest in yourself by making better decisions about your health.

4. Invest in a Personal Coach

Even the most successful CEOs work with coaches to bring more insight and new perspectives for the visions and goals of their organisation. If you own a business or are thinking of starting one, a personal coach can assist with setting up your business and bringing to light any common pitfalls people face. And even if you don’t have a business, a personal coach can help you focus on your career goals and show you how to be more effective at work.

You don’t have to necessarily get a coach to improve yourself and work on your ambitions. If one of your goals is to be more financially stable, you can hire a financial advisor to look over your finances. Just remember that a coach is there to help you create and implement an action plan. Their success depends on your success.

Coaches can be expensive but it’s an investment that aims to pay for itself.

5. Learn a New Skill

More employers are now looking for employees with a diverse set of skills. Learning a new skill not only pushes your career prospects further but shows that you are a valuable asset willing to invest in yourself.

You don’t need to enroll in classes or spend a lot of money either. There are plenty of free resources online such as YouTube and Khan Academy that teach valuable skills you can implement in your job. Talent doesn’t just magically appear overnight. You have to actively put in the time to build your skills to overcome hurdles and accomplish your goals. Set aside time in your schedule and make a commitment to learn a new skill.

References

  1. https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/bill-gates-other-billionaires-say-this-1-habit-is-secret-to-their-sucess.html
  2. https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2018/05/21/are-you-a-smart-manager/
  3. https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2016/12/19/reading-is-not-just-for-christmas/
  4. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases
  5. https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2014/01/23/networking/

Author’s Bio

Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for Konnect Salon Software. Kym has several other blogs on this website.

 

Another lesson from the farm……

“There’s nothing like putting your bare feet into fresh cow dung on a cold day. It’s great “
Makhaya Ntini – first ethnically black cricketer to play for South Africa

In a previous blog I wrote about constant renewal using lessons from the farm and I now have another ‘farm story’ from my childhood.

One of my jobs was to ‘pen up the calf’ each evening. This was done so that when my father milked the calf’s mother in the morning it would have enough milk to collect for our growing family of four boys. Rounding up the calf each evening was often a challenge. Regularly the calf would be cunning and refuse to go through the gate to be penned up.

The cow paddock was also a world of excitement for young boys. A creek to cross, dive bombing plovers in mating season, the odd angry bull, a mob of kangaroos with joeys, snakes……….

What a challenge!

However, the paddock other dangers. Yes, it was full of ‘land mines’ (our nickname for cow manure) — ranging from the very fresh to the dry and dusty.

It was fun to trick my youngest brother. He sometimes followed me around on my afternoon chores. On one of his first adventures into the paddock with me to pen up the calf for the night I encouraged him to jump on a week-old cow pat. Not being entirely convinced, he tapped it with a stick. It sounded hard so he then, with my encouragement jumped on it.

Two things happened.

Firstly, he was shin deep in cow manure and secondly, I doubled up with laughter — apparently the look on my brother’s face said it all. What a mean older brother. I certainly had some explaining to do to my mother when we got home.

The cow paddock in many ways was a great learning ground for a life in business. It was a very practical lesson –

‘what you see is not always what you get’

Are you careful enough in assessing opportunities and problems which are your land mines?

Are they what they seem on the surface?

Reading is not just for Christmas…..

gates

“not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”
Harry S Truman – US President

Several years ago I was assisting with managing a 3 day residential leadership program called “The Challenge to Lead” for my Rotary Club. The program was run by professional facilitators who had donated their time to conduct the program. One of the facilitators asked the question:

“Who here has read a management or leadership book in the last 12 months?”

Of the 28 people in the room only 2 put up their hands. I was horrified. I personally try to read a book a month on leadership and management, whether they are biographies on famous people or management books. I also read novels and books on history.

The facilitator’s comment was:

“Readers are leaders”

It was interesting that people attending a leadership course had not seen the need to increase their knowledge and seek out new ideas by reading. Warren Buffett the billionaire investor reads 500 pages a day, Bill Gates reads 50 books per year and Mark Zuckerburg reads 2 books per month. Successful people do not just read anything, they are selective preferring to be educated rather than entertained.

Why is reading books, particularly management and leadership books important?

Here are some suggestions as to why:

• We can learn from the experience of smart people – Management by Peter Drucker
• It opens up your mind to new ideas – Good to Great by Jim Collins
• It can be inspirational, particularly biographies – Not for Turning. The Life of Margaret Thatcher by Robin Harris
• Show you how to do things – The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
• Stimulate the mind and get you thinking – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
• Provide a framework for leadership – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Reading is not just for Christmas…..

“not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”
Harry S Truman – US President

Furthermore, reading elevates you above the daily grind of work and can inspire you and give you new ideas. Reading is a form of learning and can stimulate your thinking processes, providing ideas from a different viewpoint.

If you do not have time for reading than another alternative is listening to audio books. I listen to audio books whilst driving. Instead of listening to trivial talkback radio shows I use the time to increase my knowledge.

In 2016 the 5 best selling management books for Dymocks an Australian national book retailer were:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.
Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

Good to Great by Jim Collins.

With the traditional holiday period coming up in the southern hemisphere it is now an opportunity to think about how can you enjoy the period and start reading. Reading is not just for Christmas, however it is a good time to begin. Take the time to select some books to read and make a start. The 5 books mentioned above are a good reads.

With some planning it can become a life time habit and make you a better leader.

Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2017 and thank you for following my blog in 2016.

What is your plan?

boer maak ‘n plan

In Afrikaans, the language spoken by the mainly Dutch immigrant descendants living in South Africa ‘boer maak ‘n plan’ means a ‘farmer makes a plan’.  The deprivations and harshness of farming in a foreign land brought resolve and the need to plan to get around or solve these problems.  Having travelled recently in Southern Africa I came across another similar saying in Zimbabwe where people often spoke about ‘making a plan’.

What does the saying really mean?

Not as it appears literally. The ‘hidden’ meaning is that you have an alternative plan (a plan B) when your first plan fails or is impossible to implement. In other words, you need to be flexible and adaptable to solve a problem.

How does this equate to being a manager or managing a business?

As business owners or managers, we need to plan in the first instance. As the saying goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. See the blog by http://www.stewartclark.com.au/blog/fail-to-have-a-business-plan-is-planning-to-fail-in-business_105s41

However, having a rigid plan may not work if circumstances change. Let me give you an example?

Many years ago in our third party logistics business we were having difficulty in getting our trucks unloaded on time at a retailer’s distribution centre despite meeting their strict time slots. It was OK for the distribution centre to run late unloading you, however if you failed to arrive at the designated time slot you were ‘fined’. What made the situation even worse was that to make the early morning delivery time slots, trucks had to battle peak hour traffic to and from the distribution centre as well as the loading delays. This became an expensive experience – instead of 3 hours it was taking 6 hours to deliver and unload. It was further compounded by our fixed price delivery charge.

We had many meetings with distribution centre management and despite their assurances that the situation would improve, it did not.

What would solve our problem and be a ‘win’ for the distribution centre? Our Plan B.

Making some observations and talking to the receiving team at the distribution centre a plan emerged. All loads were hand unloaded (rather than on pallets) onto a conveyor with the individual cartons being scanned as they travelled up the belt. The distribution centre had a prime mover that was used for moving trailers around the receiving area.

We asked distribution centre management whether we could trial loading a 40’ container instead of an ordinary tautliner semi-trailer. We would bring the loaded container in early in the morning before peak hour, leave it in the receiving area for the distribution centre prime mover to move onto the unloading conveyor when it suited the receiving team. The empty container would then be picked up on the next early morning delivery. After a short trial, it was found that it was a win/win for both us and the distribution centre. Delivery time halved with a massive increase in margin for us and the distribution centre was able to utilise their receiving area far more efficiently.  

The success of the trial enabled us to purchase two second hand and obsolete hand semi-trailers for 10% of their replacement value and establish a unique closed loop delivery system that was extremely profitable.

We solved the waiting time problem and the peak hour travel problem which initially appeared to be unresolvable. We significantly increased our profits by having a Plan B.

Remember in any situation, you should always have a Plan B like the farmer faced with the unpredictability of the harsh African environment…….

Questions and Answers

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

Voltaire

One of the biggest mistakes  we can make  as managers is to talk too much and  ask too few enough questions.

Are you a manager who suffers from “I” strain? – I did this, I do this, I, I, I, …

Furthermore, if we do ask questions do we listen to the answer?

Asking questions is one of the most effective ways of gaining information and eliciting team co-operation. It is therefore one of the best tools available to managers.

The skill in asking questions is to know what type of question to ask, when to ask it and how to ask it.

There are 2 main types of Questions:

  1. Closed Questions – these are those questions that require a yes  no, or one word answer. They should be avoided unless you are clarifying a position or answer
  2. Open Questions – these are questions that elicit an open response where if handled carefully you can obtain valuable information and opinions and have your staff committed to the organisation.

 

A useful technique in asking questions is to start the question with one of the following………Why, Where, When, Who, What, and How

You can continue a conversation and explore ideas by rolling through the five Ws and H:

‘where’ did it happen?

‘when’ did it happen?

‘who’ was involved?

‘what’ happened?

‘why’ did it happen?

‘how’ did it happen?

Other types of questions include

Direct Questions (can be used to slow down a fast talker, confront an obstructionist or draw out a reluctant participant),

Leading Questions (should be generally avoided  but can be used to gain support or bring a meeting to a close),

Ambiguous Questions (when more than one answer is possible. Can also  be used to provoke a response, slow down a domineering talker, start a discussion or spark some action),

Provocative Questions (should be used with care and often used to provoke a response or defend a position),

Rhetorical Questions (very effective in putting an issue ‘to bed’ and moving on)

and

Re-directed Questions (used by politicians to avoid answering the question).

Questions are good tools to have when conducting a meeting.

More importantly we should avoid asking questions that are:

  1. Closed questions (yes/no) unless you follow up with a direct or factual question
  2. Invoke antagonisms
  3. Of a personal nature which may embarrass
  4. Sarcastic

So now the question I ask is “how active is your listening?”

Are you getting the feedback desired and does the person you are questioning feel that you are interested and actively listening to their answers?