Ken is enthralled by a creative graphic artist. Since he isn’t successful getting anyone to use his professional services, he ponies up money he can’t afford to redesign all his marketing materials. Nothing has changed except “the look.”
Jill decides it is time she get a promotion. What is her first investment? She buys four new expensive dresses.
Does she need to look professional at work? Of course.
Should that be her first investment? Of course not.
Robert has started a landscaping business. He is eking out a meager profit which he instantly spends on CRM software more complex and expensive than he needs.
He believes he is investing in his business.
What do these individuals have in common?
Average performers first invest in stuff. Extraordinary performers first invest in skills.
Skills are foundational; stuff is ancillary. The best stuff won’t help someone without good skills.
Stuff is easy to acquire. Skills are hard to acquire.
Skills are hard to acquire. They take time and effort, but the long-term payoff always exceeds the short term investment.
Stuff is sexy. Developing skills isn’t.
Stuff is gained with dollars. Skills are gained by discipline.
Stuff creates an immediate but false sense of progress. Skills create an ongoing and real sense of progress.
“Invest in yourself” is an aphorism too often taken for granted. And I think it is incomplete.
To real students of the game, the mandate is this: Invest in yourself first.
The stuff comes later.