[A dear friend and client of mine is slowing climbing out of a financial mess. He had spent so much of his time and energy working and investing his money on the stock market. He put his life on hold for much of the decade. He worked tirelessly because his plan was to make enough money so he could eventually retire and spend time travelling with his wife and ‘being happy’. After the GFC hit however, he had to start again because he lost so much on the stock market. The following is a snapshot of what I shared with him.]
Imagine if you will a tall beautiful tree with two branches; a left branch that reaches high into the sky with a barren trunk but the most abundant fruit sitting at the very top. And a right branch that reaches away from the left branch but then curls back towards it at the very top. This right branch has an abundance of lower lying fruit scattered throughout, and is easier to climb.
This “money” tree is a metaphor for creating wealth. The left branch represents investing your money in shares, bank deposits or real estate. The right branch is where you invest in yourself. I see so many people trying to climb the left branch too early in life and then fall. They lose their money and become despondent. They end up quitting on the idea of being rich. The mistake they make is this: The left branch may or may not make you rich but it will never make you wealthy. Only the right branch can do that.
Being rich gives you money but being wealthy gives you freedom. The irony is that most wealthy people I know have both, freedom and money. And they all have one thing in common. They invest in themselves by climbing the right branch first.
What does it mean to invest in yourself? It means to spend your time, energy and money improving the following areas of your life: Your health, your love life, your family, your work, your friendships, and your learning.
As you invest more and more in these areas you are climbing your way up that right branch and getting closer and closer to the top of the left one. A funny thing happens when you actively live your best life. You put yourself in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. When you live a complete life that makes you happy, healthy and loved, you start to develop a positive frame of mind and a warm attitude. This attracts good things and good people to you. And these often come with opportunities to work and invest in new ideas that excite you and make money for you.
Then, and only then, should you invest some of your time and money on the left branch. Whether you make money or not, you will always have your wealth. No one can ever take that away from you.
When friends and clients ask me what is the single most important thing they can do to become successful in their business, I respond with “Get Obsessive about it!” Most of them then accuse me of contradicting myself: “But you bang-on about living a balanced and complete life. How can I be obsessive about my business without neglecting other areas of my life – like my partner, my family, my health…?”
Before I reveal my response to this question I want to point out one very important fact. Anyone that I have ever come across in business (or in sport or the arts for that matter) is successful because they are obsessive about it. I have never met anyone extraordinary who is not passionately obsessive about his or her ‘thing’.
The truth is that if you want to be one of the best at anything you must be obsessive with your focus. It must be something that is on your mind daily and you must want it with all your heart – that’s what makes it an obsession.
Obsession is not a bad thing. Obsession is a great tool that the human brain is equipped with. This evolutionary trait is there for a reason. It makes us immerse ourselves into a passion and helps find a solution to problems that prop up.
The danger with obsession comes when you only obsess about one area of your life to the exclusion of the others. The way to avoid this is to “Spread the Obsession”. Be obsessive about all eight areas of your life: HEALTH – LOVE – FAMILY – WORK – LEARNING – FRIENDSHIP – WEALH and CHARITY. Focus with all your heart and mind on these areas.
When it comes to HEALTH be obsessive about the food you eat – be uncompromising. Exercise daily and relax often. When it comes to LOVE be an attentive partner and always be thinking about how to surprise them with acts of affection and fun. When it comes to FAMILY be caring and supportive to your mother, father, brother or sister. Be as thoughtful with them as you are with your friends – and listen without distraction. When it comes to WORK, only stay in a job that you really really love and always serve people from the heart. When it comes to FRIENDSHIP go out of your way to connect with friends. Turn off the TV and go visiting or engage with them on Facebook. Focus on how you can make your friends laugh because I believe that friendship should equal fun. When it comes to LEARNING prepare your own annual curriculum for what you want to learn about. When it comes to WEALTH focus on investing in yourself and in your dreams first before you invest in stocks or real estate. And when it comes to CHARITY learn to give of yourself and your time to others.
The truth is that I am obsessive. But I am obsessive about every area of my life. So if you are by nature obsessive, you should start seeing that as a positive trait and start spreading the obsession. It reminds me of the motivational mantra of “work hard – play hard” – which is not so stupid after all if you broaden your definition of “play”.