“What you do every day should contribute to giving your life meaning. If it doesn’t, why are you doing it?”
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
All growth is a consequence of good investment.
In my last two posts, I discussed the importance of having a can-do attitude, acting before you are ready, being flexible, and managing your perspective. These tools will help you stay focused on your purpose in life while taking ground towards achieving your goal. The final key to maintaining your new direction in life is to consistently invest in yourself and other people. Pumping your life and the lives of others full of value will keep you focused and force you to grow. Good investments are those that help you boost vitality, build relationships, support new projects, make new connections, and improve your product, service, or work environment. Without growth and innovation, your resources for making things happen in the realm of business and entrepreneurship will dry up. The same is true for your personal life.
You are your own best investment. When I was a kid growing up in Northern Idaho, my Dad often drove me past Silverwood theme park. The park was located right off of Highway 95, the only highway into and out of town. Every time we drove past Silverwood, there seemed to be a new ride to look at. When I first saw the park, there was one rollercoaster, a Ferris wheel, and a log boat ride. A year later, there was another, larger rollercoaster. Then there was a bumper boat ride, then another Ferris wheel, and then a third rollercoaster. Recently the owner added an entire waterpark, including a wave pool and several large waterslides. Silverwood continues to grow and is now the Pacific Northwest’s largest amusement park. What was the owner doing all of these years? He was investing in himself. This kind of investment is critical to entrepreneurship development.
Invest in your energy. See making money as a means for investing in yourself and your enterprises. Too many wannabe entrepreneurs think that success is when you make enough money to buy a sport’s car or a trip to Cancun. It is far better to put your money back into your health, relationships, and purpose driven business. First and foremost, spend your money taking care of your most valuable asset: you. If you’re a mess mentally or physically, you can’t build strong relationships or put a dent in the universe. In order to consistently add value to other people and projects, you have to consistently add value to yourself. Understand: profits are a means, not an end. In other words, making money is what allows you to boost vitality and improve your overall health. Use your profits to find ways to eat healthy, build a home gym, get a massage, and do other things that will keep your brain and body sharp. Success in entrepreneurship is not retiring at 35, lounging on a beach, or going to the world’s biggest frat party. It’s being able to continue building and creating, with vigor and enthusiasm, over the course of your entire life.
Self R&D will bring you closer to achieving your goal. Research and development, or R&D, is what leaders in business and entrepreneurship rely on to determine what their companies should do next. Some businesses spend millions, or billions of dollars every year on speculative research meant to stimulate growth and spur innovation. Company R&D is valuable because it keeps a company on the cutting edge of its field. Similarly, self R&D is valuable because it keeps you on the cutting edge of your pursuits, pushing you to take ground towards your biggest goals. Start spending time and money on self R&D. You can do this by attending conferences, taking online courses, or investing in nonfiction books related to your purpose in life. In The Personal MBA, author Josh Kaufman suggests starting a self R&D fund by allocating 5% of your monthly income to personal development and lifestyle experimentation. The best way to add value to your life is by learning as much as possible and by having as many productive experiences as possible. Make knowledge and action your most valuable assets.
Invest In People, Not Ideas
When I first started building my website and launching online products, I would find a new contractor on eLance or Guru every time I started a new project. Not only was this unproductive and short-term minded, it was extremely unfulfilling. Using different contractors for every new project meant constantly starting and ending new relationships. This meant, for each project, I had to sift through and interview dozens of contractors, choose one, explain to him not only what I wanted done but how I wanted it done, and then work with him or her, through trial and error, to close the project. I was pumping them full of my time, energy, and resources, only to dump them once the project was finished. What a waste of time.
One day, I realized that it would be far more efficient and meaningful to develop long-term relationships with a few key contractors. First, I started going back to the same web development team, who I originally met on eLance, for all of my programming projects. Next, I developed a long-term relationship with a graphic design artist who I initially hired as a one-project contractor. Finally, I looked sideways to find someone I already knew who could do all my video work. Now, when I’m ready to start a new project, I have a team of people who know exactly how I like things done. And by consistently trading value with each other, we’ve learned how to best communicate to get things done quickly and correctly. This process showed me how to develop leadership skills and how to develop others.
Building strong relationships is strategic, not tactical. Strategy involves long-term thinking and long-term investment. This means you are treating your relationships as an end in themselves, rather than as a short-term, or tactical means for getting something else. What you are really investing in is people, not projects. The idea that entrepreneurs do everything on their own and don’t need anyone else is a misconception. Understand: you can’t automate human interactions. You can’t outsource relationships. Entrepreneurship development involves learning to work with others effectively. No one can build an empire without first building relationships. Great ideas are useless without great people behind them. Human-driven action is the only thing that can turn a dream into reality. A project can’t close itself. In my next post, I will be introducing the idea of inertia, or those things that hold you back from achieving your goal.