I met a banker once. He was regional Vice President, highly successful, driven, regal, and exuded gravitas. Like most corporate high fliers, he was exceedingly competent at the technical aspects of his job. What he lacked was the ability to relate to his colleagues and his employees. He knew he was missing the human touch, and seriously considered taking a course to develop his interpersonal and emotional competencies. But he decided not to, because his company wouldn’t pay for it.
It’s a pity that many employers do not sponsor their employees’ personal development. But the real pity lies in people relinquishing control of their own growth to the whims of external parties like employers and teachers. Taking ownership of our own development and growth brings untold benefits – not only enabling us to stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive marketplace, but more importantly, maximising the quality, richness, and beauty of our lives.
Here are 5 reasons to constantly invest in ourselves:
1. To thrive amid technological change.
As technology allows us to automate repetitive tasks, the existence of low-skilled jobs such as cashiers, shop assistants, and bookkeepers will fade. At the same time, demand for higher level skills such as problem solving, creative thinking, and emotional intelligence will increase.
Most education systems and corporate training focus disproportionately on technical competencies such as data analytics and computer programming. But soft skills – leadership, teamwork, emotional mastery, and self-awareness – these are the key differentiators of talent tomorrow.
2. To learn what really matters.
The modern education system was born in the 18th century to meet the needs of industrialisation. Students are treated as economic units, schooled in disciplines best suited to fuel economic growth, and rewarded for conformity. In school, we learned how to listen to instructions, answer exam questions, and memorise facts.
But we never learned how to be a person.
Yet it’s precisely meaningful relationships, fulfilling work, and the ability to overcome life’s challenges that make life worth living.
3. To reach our potential.
For most of our lives, we’ve tried to fit ourselves into very narrow fields of study. Math, science, language, music, art, sports. What if there was something else we were good at, but we never discovered? What if you had a gift for inspiring people through public speaking? What if you were great at teaching children? And simply because you never explored that area, or the circumstances were never right, your talents never showed themselves.
If you often feel unfulfilled or restless, there might be something unexpressed or disconnected within you. Unless you actively explore, practice, expand, and grow yourself, you may never discover the hidden treasures within.
4. To lead a fulfilling and satisfying life.
Socrates said all philosophical commandments can be reduced to, “know thyself.” The key to having a fulfilling and satisfying life is to know yourself.
There are certain things we all seek – security, growth, connection, achievement, contribution, expression, belonging, love. A simple formula to happiness and fulfilment in life is knowing what we want, and attaining the skills and resources to get what we want, whether it be in work or relationships.
Sometimes we get tripped up because we’re not sure what we want. We may get caught up in the drift of life, following what feels like someone else’s path, or stuck in a comfortable job that doesn’t quite fulfill us. Or we might get lost in the pursuit of fame, money and power, forgetting that what we really wanted was security and connection.
Developing self-awareness and the ability to truly connect to ourselves, to know what we want, can lead us to more fulfilling and satisfying lives.
5. To contribute.
Many of us would like to make a difference. We want to make the world a better place in some way, but we’re not really sure how. Actually, one of the best ways to give to others is to invest in ourselves.
Have you ever met someone truly joyful? For a moment, you felt happy too. Were you ever in the presence of someone whose energy was so pure, you felt peace and love flow through you? Maybe you watched someone perform, and he was so electric, that you felt inspired to do something. That’s how we give of ourselves. We become the change we want to see in the world, and we influence people by our very actions and being.
Your life is your message to the world. So what kind of life would you like to live, and will you put in the effort it takes to get there? How do you want to influence the world?
So invest in yourself, for yourself. Because you are important, and you hold the keys to your better future.