When one of the greatest financial genius’ of our time, Warren Buffett, said that “the best investment you can make is in yourself” he really meant it.
Admittedly the quote has probably been overused in marketing for years – with people trying to fill their NLP courses and coaching programs – perhaps even by me 😉
It’s so cliched and exhausted, it’s kind of lost its meaning. So what did he really mean by this, is it true and why should we sit up and take note now?
Given that most of us ‘invest’ in depreciating assets – cars, televisions and the like; and given that some of us invest in appreciating assets – shares, properties and businesses etc – why would it better to invest in ourselves?
What does it actually mean to invest in ourselves anyway?
As I’m sure you already know, depreciating ‘assets’ are those things we buy that depreciate in value – the majority of material things we purchase. When we spend more than we earn and we don’t invest any surplus (say in appreciating assets) we stay in what we all know as the rat race – with never quite enough to escape it. None of us want that.
When we invest in appreciating assets however, these can in time, give us an income that enables us to either reinvest, or spend the money as we like. This gives us a measure of freedom. The wealthy know this ‘secret’ very well. This is what Warren Buffett has done, perhaps better than anyone else alive today. So why would he say there are better investments you can make than the very thing that has made him a billionaire many times over?
Our traditional education system is not fit for purpose for the modern era. As a result, there is a ground swell of opportunity for adults to learn, grow and develop these days – to invest in ourselves – through online and offline training and courses. Never before have we had access to so much knowledge or opportunity.
As adults wanting to mature and develop into our full potential, we have to hunt out the best education we can get for ourselves, because it’s clearly not going to be given to us on a plate. This is what he means by investing in yourself.
With an overwhelming array of information, content and courses to choose from, how do we choose the best of the best in terms of our own ongoing education?
The thing that has made the biggest difference for me in seeking out the best teachers and trainers in the world has been to match my desire with their genius. Not the marketing. I didn’t do this consciously to begin with, you could say I got lucky. In a way I stumbled across genius, rather than seeking it out in the early days.
It’s not just the results (the book, the business, the money, the stocks and shares or whatever else we are looking for and has tangible results) though that’s normally what marketeers will sell you on. It’s who we become as a result of the life changing journey we embark on – as we put ourselves and our hard earned cash in the trusted hands of someone who will hopefully teach us the ‘secrets of their success’.
I have sought out and continue to model genius I truly admire – leaders of the heart; exceptional coaches and mentors; people who have learned to love, to heal, to laugh, be real, open, ruthlessly honest and to make a real difference in the world.
Yes I’ve got tangible results – the business, the websites, the properties, money and more. What’s more valuable than any of this however, has been the person I have become. As they say, all you’re left with when you die is who you became. You can’t take any of it with you.
John Grinder, one of the founders of NLP (and a genius in his own right) once said that “the relationship between the model and the modeller [i.e. student and teacher] is so intimate that I wouldn’t consider [modelling] someone until I’d been in their presence, personally verified that I recognised genius in what they were doing… and there has to be some sort of movement inside of me at the unconscious level that says ‘YEAH’!”
My criteria for choosing models of excellence, trainers or coaches now – and I’ve chosen some very good and very bad ones in my time – is to choose those who have a congruent ‘why’ or purpose for doing what they do. One that ‘oozes’ from their very being.
Ultimately this is almost always because it’s what they truly love doing; it’s their calling, their passion, their raison d’etre. Or all of the above! Very rarely do I choose someone because they can help me make money or a bestseller or whatever else it is. I’m sure they can. But when someone’s heart is not in the right place, I’m no longer interested. I’ve lost that gamble too many times.
I need to invest in people who are truly invested in me, themselves and life. Like Grinder, I need to be in their presence, to recognise their genius and have an unconscious pull which says “YEAH!” towards wanting some of what they have. Then it’s a green light. That couldn’t be further from the red light of marketing or sales or positioning that so many educational ‘systems’ or ‘experts’ promote. In fact, you’ll find that most genius’ don’t promote at all. They attract.
Who are you attracted by?
As one of my mentors once said, be careful who you model. You might get more than you bargained for.