29th November 2018

Do you invest in yourself?

The problem is out there

Of course it is. The problem is always out there but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the solution is out there, so stop looking for it ‘out there’.

It is a well observed trait of human nature that when something goes wrong that there is always someone to blame or there is another excuse we can dredge up to let us off the hook of the accountability of poor performance. You will recognise the victims among us who always find someone ‘out there’ to blame or something ‘out there’ to be a convenient excuse. I hear it all the time; ‘you don’t understand Ian, it’s the competition; it’s the government; it’s the society; it’s the industry or it’s the area’.

Every time we say the problem is ‘out there’ we will fail to see where the solution is. Most times the solution isn’t ‘out there’ at all. The solution is somewhere else. The solution is generally ‘in here’. But looking ‘in here’ isn’t very easy and it isn’t very natural, particularly when we are looking for the roots of failure, or poor performance at the very least.

Imagine what you, as a great parent, would say to your child if she said she was performing poorly at tennis and was blaming her racket. Are you going to buy her a new racket? Do you really think a new racket will suddenly transform her from a mediocre tennis player to a rock star? You may choose to indulge her with a new racket but I don’t think even the proudest parent would really think that a new racket would truly be the transformation she is looking for.

Invest in yourself 

If you were the truly caring parent and you had the choice and ability of investing to help your child be the best tennis player she could be would you choose to buy her a new racket or would you choose to hire a coach to bring out the best in her? I suggest you would choose the coaching option first. You see the solution isn’t ‘out there’ (the racket) but the solution is ‘in here’ (the child’s ability to perform to her best). We know that. We know that instinctively. If only we dare face the truth.

But if we were talking about you, or I was talking about me there might be a different response. If I was frustrated with my own performance I would likely buy a new racket rather than invest in myself. Why? Well it is a lot easier to blame the racket than to admit my own lack. It is a lot easier to pay for a new racket than to make the effort to develop my own proficiency. It is a lot easier to pay for a new racket with money than pay for my own development with time, effort, swallowed vanity and humility.

Develop the behaviours that are needed

So it is in business. We blame others for our business’ unacceptable performance. We fire people, buy marketing fads, and change products quickly but we rarely look ‘in here’ and invest in ourselves to develop the behaviours that are needed. As Tolstoy said “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”. If you were really honest how often would the answer to the question “what needs to change” be “I do, I need to change”?

Didn’t Jim Rohn state it bluntly enough when he said “never wish that life were easier, wish that you were better”? Change starts on the inside. The problem may well be ‘out there’ but the solution is usually ‘in here’.