Investing In You

I grew up in humble surroundings, my family was for the most part “working class”, I moved around a bit as a kid, moved schools a few times, and lived in state/council housing. At one point as a child (due to some unfortunate circumstances) we lived for a short time in a “homeless” hostel – a transitional place whilst waiting for state housing to be allocated. In one area that I lived as a child I had a knife pulled on me outside a local shop, I learned then how quickly I could run! Today I live in a nice safe suburb, drive a decent car, and generally don’t have to worry too much about personal safety or not having a roof over my head. This is due to some kindnesses I’ve been shown along the way and also by investing. Investing in myself…

I recently completed reading Tony Robbins  Money Master the Game, it is a good book for those new to investing - with a few chapters being somewhat US-centric. (Other books you may find interesting if you’re just starting out your investing journey include The Little Book of Common Sense Investing and A Random Walk Down Wall Street.) While Money Master the Game contains a lot of information about how to attempt to maximize your financial returns and  ways to diversify your portfolio, in it Tony also talks about  how you can add more value.

One way to improve your financial investments is by by investing in yourself.

One nice idea is that by investing in yourself you can add more value and if you can add more value you can earn more and if you can earn more you can invest more.

I had some help and kindnesses shown to me in my journey and like everyone I’ve also some challenges to deal with along the way. Even though I come from a somewhat humble  background, and as a white heterosexual male I’ve never had to deal with prejudice, I am lucky that I have always loved to learn. I became fascinated by computers and programming from an early age and was lucky enough to borrow one for a time when I was younger. Eventually my interest and enthusiasm meant I was lucky enough to get my own machine.

Over the many years I continued to learn and was eventually privileged enough to be able to attend university to study computing. Even after starting my first job I continued to learn in my own time, in the evenings and at weekends, always interested in learning more.

As I look back now, at the time I was just following my natural curiosity, but looking back what I was really doing was investing in myself.

About 2 and a half years ago I stepped into a gym for the first time in my life. I look back now and smile, my first experience was not pleasant, I didn’t know what exercises to do, I tried bench pressing with an empty bar and wobbled all over the place, while the muscular guy next to be hoisted 50kg dumbbells to the sky. I went home feeling awful and a little stupid. Two days later I went back, and I kept going back. I devoured Arnold Schwarzenegger's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding and eventually paid for some personal training sessions to learn how to clean and press and bench press properly. Whilst I am not a shredded muscular bodybuilder, I did lose 14kgs over 2 years and add some amount of muscle mass and some strength. This is another example of investing in you, this time the physical you. Oftentimes, as developers we don’t always take the best care of ourselves, but I believe investing in the physical you carries over to the work/business you.

As the adage goes, "if you want better answers, ask better questions". One question I’m asking myself this year is: how can I continue to add more value than anyone else? As a software developer and “techie-minded”, in the past I would have thought of a question like this as being big-headed or management-speaky. But if you want to help others you need to help yourself and if you want to help yourself you need to offer value to others.

If you want better answers, ask better questions

It’s good to take a step back sometimes and ask ourselves some questions, especially as we get laser focused on the test we’re writing or the feature we’re working on or the sprint that we’re in, or the next project that might be coming along.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given in life, I’m grateful for the challenges and failures and what I’ve learned from them, and I’m grateful for the gift of my lifelong love of learning.

Whilst somewhat dramatic, there is some truth to the phrase “if you’re not growing you’re dying” and if you want to grow you have to invest in you.

Comments (2) -

  • Prince

    2/13/2018 11:41:27 PM | Reply

    Hi Jason,  I  just bumped into your blog, and I think it's really awesome! I remeber reading some info (maybe code) off it about a month ago and I marvelled at how the phrase "Don't Code Tired" was  directly referring to me. So today, I googled it Smile. And  I feel like I can really relate to this interesting article.

    I'm from a humble  surrounding myself,  though I have never been in a homeless situation or had a knife pulled up on me, I aspire everyday to be in a more comfortable life. It has always been my enthusiasm and passion that has driven me.  It's  been very inspiring reading your article, and it just reminds me that it has only been my hunger for knowlegde that has brought me this far. And that that's the only way life can ever be better. Thanks for nice work, Jason. Don't forget to pass on the  grace and kindness from your roots to the little  people, especially the ones  you see yourself in. Invest in yourself, invest in others.

    Cheers.
    Prince.

    • Jason

      2/14/2018 7:59:26 AM | Reply

      Hi Prince, glad you like the blog name Smile It was inspired by a car sticker I saw once that read "Don't Drive Tired"... I'm glad the article connected with you, I think giving is also an important component to success: whether it's to charity, helping in the local community, or a simple smile and thank you to the checkout cashier who looks like they're having a bad day. It's one of the reasons I started this blog many years ago and do things like work on open source projects and create free eBooks (http://bit.ly/ebooksjr).

      Best wishes in all your future endeavors - Jason.

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