Investing

Investingto put (money) to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.

We invest money today, like in real estate, a 401k, or an IRA, to potentially have more of it in the future.  And that’s good.  Investing is one way of preparing for tomorrow, even if tomorrow is years or decades away.  But, have you ever considered investing in yourself to ensure a bright future?

Investing in yourself can take many forms and will vary widely from person to person, based on each individual’s idea of what a “bright future” looks like.  For example, investing in yourself may mean:

  • Buying healthy nutritious food
  • Attending classes or conferences to help you grow personally or professionally
  • Regularly buying books in areas of interest
  • Spending time to read those books
  • Regularly setting aside time to exercise and be physically active
  • Spending time with family and friends who lift you up

As this small list shows, our money is not our only resource we can invest in ourselves.  Our time is an equally valuable resource that can yield tremendous returns, if we invest it wisely.

Much like financial investing, I think investing in ourselves is best done early and consistently.  Imagine how many books you can read, and in return how much knowledge or ideas you can gain.  Investing just 15 minutes a day adds up to 91.25 hours of reading in 1 year!  Also consider what it would look like if you invested $20, $50, $100 or more a month into your personal development.  That’s a significant amount!

Now imagine that you’re investing your time and money in yourself like this for several years in a row.  Better yet, imagine that investing in yourself like this is a habitual part of every year of your life.  With habits like that, the thought of each year becomes more exciting and full of more promise and opportunities than the year before!

If you’re not already doing so, consider taking some of your time and money each month and intentionally investing it in yourself.  It’s a great way to ensure that we don’t just get older with each passing year, but that we become better versions of ourselves as well.

Grateful for the Experience

Early last Sunday morning I was driving home from a weekend fly fishing trip in Central Oregon.  The temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) under a cloudless, sunny blue sky.  It is mornings like this that make me feel especially blessed to be alive.

Since my wife was out of town, I decided to take my time getting home and enjoy being out in such a beautiful part of the state on a morning like this.  It was great!  I stopped at to look at a scenic landmark, walked through the town of Sisters Oregon, and read the Bible along the banks of the awe-inspiring Metolius River.  I felt recharged, inspired, and invigorated.

MetoliusAs I realized it was time to start making my way home, I was a little saddened that my wonderful morning was about over.  I didn’t want it to end.

Have you ever felt like that?  You’re having such a great time that the thought of it coming to an end is rather sad.  That’s how I felt this particular morning.

However, my wonderful morning reminded me of the following quote:  “Don’t be sad it’s over; be grateful you had the experience.”

Sure, it can be sad when something you enjoy comes to an end, like:

  • A fun time away from the regular routine.
  • A visit from a friend or relative.
  • The end of a rewarding job or career.
  • The loss of a beloved pet.
  • A child leaving home.
  • An enjoyable vacation/holiday.

But consider how blessed you were to have had the opportunity to create the memories those things produced.

The next time you’re feeling sad at the end of an enjoyable experience, make the mental shift from sadness to gratitude.  Be grateful for memories you just made, while eagerly looking forward to the new ones yet to come.

Perspective

A few weeks ago my wife and I were delayed while driving home over the Oregon Cascades on Highway 22.  There was an accident a few miles ahead of us that shut down traffic in both directions for 3 hours.   We certainly hadn’t anticipated that.

I can remember a time in my past when a delay like this, or even one much shorter, would have caused me great frustration and irritation.  Fortunately, I don’t get irritated over things like this anymore.  What has helped me most in this area is making sure I take a moment and actually put things in the proper perspective.

Yes, we were delayed for 3 hours, but we were also very fortunate that we weren’t involved in the accident ahead of us.  I’m sure the people who were involved would much rather have only been delayed versus having their car damaged, being injured, or experiencing loss of life.  With that perspective in mind, it made it really hard for me to get upset and start complaining, especially when I’m sitting in the beautiful Oregon Cascades with my wife, knowing we’ll be on our way soon.  In light of that, I really had nothing to complain about.

I think that when we lack the proper perspective, we often let little things frustrate us unnecessarily.

The next time you find yourself getting frustrated, pause for a moment and make sure you have the proper perspective on the situation.  If you don’t, then change your perspective.  It’s a great way to not only alleviate unnecessary stress and frustration.  It’s also a great reminder of what we have to be grateful for.

It Gets Challenging

The arrival of summer in Oregon ushers in blueberry season.  I love this, because fresh-picked Oregon blueberries are for superior tasting than anything I could buy in a grocery store.  Aside from their superior taste, picking your own berries from one of the local fields is a summertime activity that is not to be missed.

The beginning of the picking season is the best!  All of the bushes are loaded with big clusters of ripe berries.  This makes for easy picking.  You don’t have to work very hard and in a short time you can be done picking and on your way with several pounds of blueberry goodness.

The scene is a little different as the season progresses.  The picking gets more challenging as more people get out and hit the field.  Gone are the huge, numerous clusters.  This is when you have to start searching the branches for smaller clusters that are hidden from site.  The more the season passes, the more you have to work to get the results you want.  The berries are still sweet and delicious; you just have to work harder for them… but it’s worth the effort!

I think it’s a lot like that when we’re learning new skills.  Starting out, we often see results quickly because we’re going from total ignorance on the topic to acquiring the most basic skills.  We go from knowing absolutely nothing to knowing something about the topic.  Although this basic knowledge often comes quickly, we soon realize that there is a whole lot more that we don’t know about the topic.  We also realize that if we want to get beyond a beginner’s skillset, it’s going to be challenging and require significant effort on our part.

I think it’s here that people often give up pursuing something they want.  They’ve gotten past the initial easy steps and arrive at the point where it’s going to take more effort than before to get where they want to go.  If that effort seems too great, they give up.

We’ve all been here in some form or another. It’s where we ask ourselves just how badly we want it.  How much do we want to:

  • Improve upon or learn a new skill
  • Learn a new language
  • Be able to use a new piece of technology
  • Improve a relationship
  • Become a better leader
  • Or simply pick enough blueberries to fil the large container we brought with us

Knowing that the challenges increase after starting is helpful, because we can anticipate them and be ready to address them when we might otherwise be caught off guard by them and give up.

Covering the Basics

 

So which would you rather experience from an individual or an organization:

Column A   Column B
Someone who goes above and beyond what they said they’d do.

 

-Or-

Someone who says, “I’ll take care of that” and doesn’t follow through.
Someone who shows they appreciate your business through actions and words.

 

-Or-

Someone who responds to each of your questions with, “HUH?”
Someone who teaches you about their product or service and invites your questions and then answers them.

-Or-

Someone who shows up 40 minutes late for an appointment (without even calling to let you know they’d be late) and also smelling of alcohol.

 

Let me guess.  You’d rather experience Column A, right?  Yeah, me too!

It seems to me like doing the items in Column A and NOT doing the things in Column B are the basics of doing business, or even relating with another human being.  However, I’m amazed from my own experience (I’ve recently experienced each item in both columns) how many people don’t have a grasp on the necessity of covering these basics in a business setting.  I find it frustrating… and also encouraging.

I find it frustrating for obvious reasons, but I’m encouraged, because if there are so many people NOT covering the basics, I can very easily stand out, in a positive way, if I make sure I’m covering the basics in my interactions with others.  And so can you!

Covering the basics in our interactions with others looks like:

  • Doing what we say we will do.
  • Presenting ourselves well in appearance, language, and attitude.
  • Looking people in the eye when talking with them.
  • Being present and engaged with the person you’re with (Put the smartphone away!)
  • Being courteous and respectful of the other person.

It feels to me like covering the basics is a secret competitive advantage whether you’re in business, applying for a job, or just connecting with another person.

Let’s take advantage of this secret and make sure we’re covering the bases in our interactions with others.

Things Look Different Close Up

I prefer the window seat whenever I fly, because the view is spectacular!  Everything appears so peaceful.  Mountain ranges are picturesque.  Cities appear slow, calm and quite.  Everything seems to be in order.  From 30,000 feet above, things look pretty good.

View From a Distance

This peaceful view, however, hides the reality the conditions below.  Frigid winter temperatures, scorching summer heat, or a congested, noisy city aren’t really noticeable when viewed at in climate controlled comfort at 30,000 feet.

It’s not until we get up close to the environment that we realize things are markedly different thank they first appeared.

I think it’s like that with people as well.  From a distance, people often appear to be free of difficulty or challenges in their life.  Yet it’s not until we get close up and connect with someone that we realize they are facing challenges, concerns or difficulties that aren’t easily seen from a distance.

This thought reminds me that most people are likely struggling with, worried about, or concerned with something that’s not visible to us.  It also reminds me that I would do well to approach others with grace and, when appropriate, the willingness to be close up.

Without Even Knowing

On Friday June 2nd at about 9:45am Pacific Time, I completed the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon.  This is a hike I have wanted to do since first visiting the Grand Canyon back in 2013.  It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.

Completion

One of the key motivators for doing this hike was a view of Plateau Point I saw from the South Rim during my visit in 2013.  Plateau Point is easily visible from the south rim of the canyon, just west of the El Tovar Lodge.

Plateau Point

What captivated me about this view was the small trail that lead out to the point.  From my vantage several thousand feet above I could see people walking along that trail toward the end of the point.  As I watched them, I wondered what type of view they must have and how great it must be to be down there walking that trail.  Their presence on the trail intrigued me and stirred a desire to find out for myself what that experience is like.

The people I saw on the tail had no idea that I was watching them and that their presence on the trail was motivating me to one day hike that trail as part of my Rim to Rim experience.  As I hiked the trail to the end of Plateau Point last week, I wondered if there were people on the South Rim watching me.  I’d like to think there was someone that saw me and thought, “That looks like something I’d like to do.  I’m going to make that happen!”

I think we can motivate others to do great things without even knowing it.  The people I saw on Plateau Point back in 2013 had no idea they were inspiring me to take action.  They were simply doing their thing out on the trail.

I like to think that maybe I’ve been able to do the same for others.