Investing with Eyes Wide Open

When you think ‘security’ what comes to mind? Your portfolio or your work? Given the sad state of financial portfolios, you’ll do yourself a favor by re-thinking and re-working your thinking around security.

Most of us spend 40 plus years in the workforce with little knowledge of how long a job will last. Industries used to have career ladders, back when industry was driving the economy. Businesses used to recognize the return on  investing in management development and skills training based upon steady growth projections. With today’s economy running on information, information that multiplies exponentially, organizations have stopped investing in development because…well… because if it doesn’t bolster the next quarter’s financial performance then it’s not worthy of investment. Short term only. And really, really short-sighted.

If your work is valuable, if you are a contributor to your employer then you must invest in yourself. Because if you don’t, you are really, really short-sighted.  If your work isn’t all that valuable, then it’s even more important that you invest in yourself since you’ll probably find yourself out on the street sooner rather than later.

What do I mean by investing? I mean paying for–spending money on— your growth, your development, a new skill, new knowledge, new competencies, anything that makes you more productive, more innovative and a stronger partner with your employer.  But invest wisely.

When you think of educating or improving yourself, you might automatically think a degree, maybe an MBA.  Degrees have a purpose, so make sure you do, too, before you decide that it’s the best place for you to spend your money.  A degree is an investment of several years of your time as well as thousands of dollars, and is a finite curriculum. So if you invest in a degree, it always says you have done the work, but it’s only current until the day you graduate.  In this information economy, staying current is the name of the game.

What does that mean? Estimates are that in 2008 we had 1.5 exabytes of unique new information available to us and that our technical information doubles every  2 years. This is what we have to keep up with, this is the “currency” we have to capture. So invest wisely.

Maybe an update in your computer skills, in new applications that will improve your efficiency is your best investment–this year. Maybe sharpening your collaboration skills so you can get more from your project teams is your best investment–this year. Maybe learning how to run a 20-minute meeting that produces big results in your best investment–this year.  Maybe learning to tap into your creativity is the thing that will improve your value–this year. Ask your manager, peers, and team mates about what would make you a better contributor in the workplace…they’re likely to tell you. And do it annually, better yet 2 or 4 or 6 times a year.  Review your value just as you do your financial portfolio; take responsibility for maximizing your value.

And, if you’re reading this and thinking “this is not my job,” “I don’t have the money to do this,” or “what I know is enough,” then get an executive or career coach to help you open your eyes to reality. Your belief systems are stuck in the last century and they are holding you back; they are threatening your security more than you know.

It’s always been a surprise to me that “career” isn’t considered the foundation of our financial security, and maybe in the 20th century with its stability, retirement parties and gold watches it didn’t need to be. But in today’s world, your investment in yourself and your career is the foundation for your security.

If you’ve abdicated, take it back. If you’ve never thought about it, begin now. Recognize that in today’s upside-down economy, you are your own stability…and investing in yourself is the wisest decision you will ever make.


4 Responses

  1. Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

  2. good one. Are u a career coach?

  3. Yes, I am…I work with individuals and inside organizations with individuals and groups. Background on my coaching is available at…please visit!

  4. Thanks for following me, Allen…what interests you about this area? Always curious…

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