There’s been a lot of discussion recently about investments. When GameStop stock skyrocketed — not because of anything the company did but because of behind-the-scenes manipulations — some people made fabulous returns from modest investments. This caused many to turn their attention to the stock market, looking for the next “strike-it-rich” stock.
Trying to guess the “next big thing” in the stock market is just like gambling; you might get lucky, but for 99.9% of the population, it’s no way to plan for the future. There is, however, one surefire investment we can all make today, now.
Investing in ourselves is the best investment we’ll ever make. Here are four areas to invest your time and effort in that will always pay off, both in the short and long term.
In today’s economy, you’re often paid for what you know. Want to get paid more? Know more. Your career is in your hands, because you are in control of your education, but people often forget this. When we’re in school — K through 12 and up through college — we have teachers. Their job is to impart knowledge to us, and our job is to absorb it. After school, however, this structure is no longer in place. We might have training now and then, especially when we’re entering a new job, but other than that, no one is holding us accountable to learn new things.
We should learn everything we can about the vehicles in our customer inventory so that, you can schedule service quickly and efficiently. But let’s not stop there. As a professional it’s your business to know how all the departments in your shop operate and interact with team members. Would a solution to a challenge in one part of the shop assist another department? Are there points of friction that result from misunderstandings, miscommunication or lack of knowledge?
People should never stop learning. Once our minds are full of “certainty,” there’s no room for anything else. Once we stop growing and becoming better than the person we were yesterday, our days of success are ultimately limited.
When we learn new things, we’re exercising our minds and breaking out of or expanding old, worn thought patterns. We’re open to new ideas and fresh perspectives. We become better learners and thinkers, which makes us more valuable for anything we set out to accomplish.
We’re gaining more experience all the time we’re alive, but is it the right experience? Legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” If we’re going down the wrong path, practicing the wrong things, we’re not adding to our own value. In fact, we’re just forming habits we’ll eventually have to unlearn.
This is the area where mentors become so valuable. By finding someone who has been where we are and has achieved what we have set our sights on, we can learn from the benefit of their experience. When we live a Theory of 5 lifestyle, we are coached on the skills and education we need for the journey to where we want to go. The right mentor will sharpen us, teach us and support us on our path. The experience we’ll gain will be priceless.
If we’re going to achieve audacious goals, it’s going to take a lot of things — training, effort, focus and more. It’s also going to take energy. If our body isn’t capable of supplying that energy, our education, experience and mindset won’t take us as far as we’d like. Exercising, eating right and taking care of our physical being enables our minds to focus and drive our efforts.
If you get in your car for a long road trip, the last thing you want to hear is a knocking sound under the hood. We maintain our vehicles because we depend on them to get us where we’re going. We can’t ignore the needs of our bodies and expect to reach our goals. We don’t have to train for triathlons. We just need to use common sense, eat right and exercise regularly. Feeling good makes it possible for us to do our best work in all areas of our lives.
Our minds are the one bit of territory in the universe that we can ultimately control. If we hold positive attitudes, perform the right actions and develop the exceptional skills, habits and attitudes, we will give ourselves the best chance to reach or exceed our goals and live the lives we’ve earned and deserve. While others look at the world and complain, we are actively working to change it for the better. We’ve prioritized our education, we’re seeking out experiences that will accelerate our careers — and our lives — and we’re taking care of the only body we’ll ever have. With the proper mindset, obstacles become new ways to learn valuable lessons, and almost all challenges become opportunities to shine. Chris Saraceno is vice president and partner of the Kelly Automotive Group and is the author of “The Theory of 5.” He focuses on process implementation, profitability, inventory control, vendor relations, expense management, and budgeting and forecasting. His responsibilities also include customer-oriented processes and manufacturer satisfaction levels. For more information, visit linkedin.com/in/chrissaraceno/.