When someone mentions this topic to you, the natural assumption would be that she’s referring to money. But that is only one fifth of the truth. According to the late Bill Gibson – CEO of KBI (Knowledge Brokers International), we all have 5 personal resources available to us if we want to make a difference:
- Abilities (Knowledge and Skills)
- Energy, and
- Our name (Our Personal Brand)
The topic of this article is equally relevant to each of our personal assets or resources. Stop spending time with people, start investing. Stop spending money – start investing. Stop spending your knowledge and skills and start investing it. Stop spending your energy, and start investing it, and equally important stop spending your personal brand and start investing... The difference between spending and investing has everything to do with the return. No-one will invest financially into a fund that has a negative return and no prospects of making us more money, but still, we would buy things we don’t really need to impress people we don’t even know.
The difference between investing and spending is often just the amount of proactive thought applied to any action before taking the simplest of decisions. We all agree to give our time to others in the form of business meetings, a simple coffee appointment, a social get together with friends, conferences, seminars, training (both as learners and teachers) or we spend our time on our own. I remember once reading a Garfield Comic Strip where the lazy fat cat said:” Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” If we want to invest more and spend less, the first step is to become more aware, live more deliberately and act more consciously. The return I’m referring to goes beyond the financial implications. Return on relationships. Return on physical health. Return on productivity. Return on “soul” – joy, happiness, fulfilment. Before taking any action like saying yes to any engagement, a few questions – answered honestly - could be the difference between spending (low or no return), and investing (enjoying acceptable or high return).
- If I say “yes” to this engagement, what or whom do I need to say “no” to?
We need to remember that a yes to anyone always means a “no” to someone else. A “yes” to go to a party with friends, means a “no” to stay home with my family, to myself to read a book, or go to bed early, finished a project or playing a game with the kids, or watching a movie with my spouse... the list goes on and on. Which of these choices will be the best investment of my time, money, energy, abilities and personal brand? Which choice needs to get the “no” when?
- If I look at my priorities; is this engagement important or urgent?
The important things in life are very often NOT URGENT. But if it is disregarded for long enough they surely will become urgent. It is important to invest one-on-one time with your spouse and children, but seldom urgent. But if I fail to invest quality time with my spouse for long enough, a letter from her attorney might instruct me to leave a business meeting to be in court for my divorce hearing. Or a heart attack might put me in hospital and cause me to miss an urgent meeting because I didn’t invest in enough rest – which is important.
- If I plan to do something in the near future, I need to ask myself: “What do I need to do to ensure that I am mentally, emotionally and or physically up to the task when the time comes?” We’d often commit to a request by our kids, spouse or manager, only to feel too exhausted to follow through on our promise. If I say yes now, will I have the energy needed to keep my promise? E.g. “Sorry I’m not going to have a beer after work because I promised my son we’d go for a game of squash this evening... or I have to finish my assignment this evening.”
- Will the person use the information or advice he requests? If a specific person keeps coming to you for advice, but never follows any of it... Maybe you have been spending your knowledge and wisdom, with no return, for long enough. I have asked a few people in my life to stop asking for my advice and even stopped coaching certain individuals, simply because I felt it became a waste of time, energy and often even money. “Why do you ask me for my opinion, if you already know what you are going to be doing?” I often find delegates who attend my sessions, asking me for my presentation, and initially, I’d share it without thinking. I have since realised that the information in most cases end up in a folder, or worse even in the inbox of most of the delegates without ever being used. I still enjoy sharing information, but only to those who make use of my contact details and remember to send me a personal request. In my experience close to 100% of delegates promise to make contact after a session, and only about 20% on average follow through.
- How would my mother feel if she sees me now? Would I be proud of myself if I read about this in the newspapers tomorrow? Would this draw people to me or act as a repellent for my business? I am very careful what I post on social media, and who I hang out with. I have realised that certain people and or places are not adding value to the values, and the principles I support. We have only one “name”, and we need to decide what our personal brands represent. This will help us to invest in the activities that build a good name, representing the things we value.
I am turning 54 next month. I woke up this morning with a sense of urgency. How much time do I have left to make a difference in my circles of influence? I want to live more intentionally and deliberately in 2020. I want to stop spending; stop wasting my personal resources and do what I can to ensure a positive return on investment. Join me – let’s stop spending, and start investing!