Invest In Yourself

by Marc Winitz

Few things in life that are worthwhile or of value come easily. It’s a fact we often willingly ignore. And I don’t mean the small joys in life either. Accomplishment. Advancement. Breakthroughs. Major changes in career or direction. Any significant milestone takes work. As I look back on training in martial arts over decades, virtually nothing came easily or immediately. I recall wanting it to happen more quickly but it just didn’t. Unfortunately Western society doesn’t usually reward “slow progress”. And there are a lot of reasons for that. Sometimes there is just a lot of time that has to elapse before any type of progress can be seen. The reality is that if we want to see some level of significant accomplishment in life, whether that be on a work or personal level, we need to invest in ourselves. That means we need to believe in ourselves when no one else will. And quite frankly, that’s hard.

The Personal Investment
I recall so many times as a brown belt being verbally (and physically) pounded on trying to get to the first rung of the black belt level. “You are not ready” or “Your technique isn’t at the level it needs to be” where common refrains. No matter how hard I was trying, I couldn’t make the immediate progress I wanted. I think this correlates directly to the way we all view ourselves in every day life. It was only when I decided that no matter what my current situation, condition or understanding of a topic was, if I decided that investing my time in the activity was important enough (e.g. getting a black belt for example), that I would eventually see a payoff. And it’s hard to see a “return on investment” when it is not clear you are making progress in a specific endeavor. But there are no shortcuts. Even the most talented people in the world have to work, and work hard, to be successful. The good news is that if you commit and choose to work at whatever your goal is, you will make progress. It just make take some time.

A Personal Rate of Return
This idea of investment and getting a return for it is common in business parlance. And for good reason. When someone else is funding an endeavor their interest is to see a return on capital spent as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, on a personal development level you have to make an investment and not always no “a return” will come, and more likely if it does it may not come as quickly as you want it or expect it. But that shouldn’t stop you from making an investment in yourself in terms of time, committment or or some other resource to get where you want to go.

Reading around the internet this past week has highlighted a coincidental level of “investment and return” discussion and I believe several of the following posts draw remarkable parallels between understanding, or sometimes not, the level of investment needed to get a “personal return”.

There Are No Shortcuts
In his post “There are no blog how to’s for the hard stuff” Andrew Swenson at Wordpost directly discusses the dominant “list approach” being used in blogging to highlight successful internet marketing, and by extension,  any successful endeavor. In short, there are no lists that tell any of us how to be successful. Critical thinking, trial and error, and continued pursuit of the goal, something that can’t be “taught” in a list post (or any post) are what leads to success. I firmly believe this and have resisted the list approach since the inception of this blog. They have a place, but in reality no one can tell you what to do, you have to go do it. How successful is this post? Successful enough that two of the absolute heavyweights in social media, Chris Brogan of the national bestseller “Trust Agents” and Brian Clark, one of the original SEO masters and a spiritual guru of the wildly successful internet writing blog “Copyblogger” stop by to comment. Andrews words have generated conversation, and more importantly they have resonated. And with good reason. This is 6 Elements approach to sharing knowledge in the spirit of Black Belt Guide.

The Rules Have Changed
I work in sales and marketing and enjoy reading what other thought leaders have to say about the discipline. After all, like it or not, life is sales, in one way or another (I can software engineers, cringing). Jim Keenan at A Sales Guy argues that “Blogging Is An Investment” that takes works. And the returns are not immediate. You have to stay motivated to write, promote and connect with others. You may not see the level of “popularity” you are seeking right away, but don’t stop. This is an investment that will pay dividends over time, just like putting money in your 401K. This is the 21st century. Blog or die. Learn what social media is and embrace it. You are not what you want your personal brand to be (something corporations are learning all the time currently). Your brand is what Google says it is (so “google” your name to see what comes back about you). You have to put in the work now, and you don’t know now if you will “make it”. Funny, just like training for a black belt. But one thing is for sure. If you are not trying you will never get there so don’t give it. A definite Black Belt Guide attitude.

You Will Fail So Get Over It
Almost all people get stuck on failure. What seperates winners from losers? Those that learn from their mistakes AND do something about it repeatedly. Srinivas Rao at The Skool of Life writes this week on 8 Failures That Got Him To Where He is Now, covering his last ten years and the lack of success he has had in terms of where he wanted to be in his life and where he has ended up. This is a soul bearing and very personal discussion that most people would not dare publish to publicly. And that is why it works. Srini has risked putting his failures out publicly for the world to see. Honestly, it’s no different than training in a karate dojo. You get up in front of 50 people and perform with all eyes watching only to then have very specific comments on what you are doing and what needs to be fixed, can you truly learn. I commend Srini for making such a public airing, a true Black Belt Guide exhibition of “indomitable spirit”. And more importantly, the success he and his partner, Sid Savara, have enjoyed since launching this year has been remarkable. A valuable center of thinking and knowledge on the topic of blogging where you can learn quickly from others that have been there, made mistakes, fallen down, and stood back up to succeed. This post is a warrior’s spirit, it just doesn’t may not appear that way at first.

You May Get Different Results
These are just a few examples of making an investment in yourself. Although most people will agree that “Good things don’t come easily” we have a tendency to not allow ourselves the necessary time it takes to see success. Most of the time it’s not quick. I am not saying getting to a successful state as quickly as possible isn’t a good thing, it is. But on a personal development level that usually doesn’t happen. You will fall down. You will make mistakes. You will feel a sense of helplessness from time to time. You will question why you are spending time on a subject or topic when you don’t see the progress you expect or what you think society expects. Ignore it. Invest in yourself. Take a chance. This is a black belt’s path.

Thanks for training with me.

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June 29, 2010 at 1:10 am

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