As a small-business owner, you are the greatest asset to your company, which also means that enhancing your professional development is the best investment you can ever make. Author and entrepreneur Jeff Olson agrees, and in a recent Entrepreneur.com article explains that “The Smartest Long-Term Investment is You.”
He begins by quoting Lincoln who once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” In this, Lincoln demonstrates how enhancing one’s tools can actually be more important than performing actual tasks. The problem is, if you’re like many professionals, the idea of taking a time-out to rejuvenate yourself may seem a little self-indulgent. Aren’t you too busy chopping down trees, for heaven’s sake? Unfortunately, too much tree-chopping and not enough axe-sharpening makes your work less effective and eventually, inadequate.
Olson suggests you spend just as much time sharpening as you do chopping. He explains, “Read just one chapter of an information-rich, inspiring book every day. Listen to 15 minutes of a life-transforming audio. Take a course or seminar every few months. Most of your life — 99.9 percent– is made up of things you do on automatic pilot. It’s essential that you take charge of your automatic pilot’s training and never stop investing in yourself.”
He suggests other ways to invest in yourself as well, of which you’ll find that many of them won’t even require much time or money to achieve.
- Study professional books and magazines.
- Learn from friends, mentors, and colleagues.
- Attend professional seminars.
- Complete professional development programs.
- Advance your education and training.
Steven Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, calls this habit “sharpening the saw.” Covey explains that this requires you have “a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.” We suggest you reflect on your own life to see how you can enhance all these key faucets.
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Olson, Jeff. “The Smartest Long-Term Investment is You.” 13 May 2014 Entrepreneur.com
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.” StephenCovey.com