Thursday, March 7, 2013

Stages of Investment

Books by Zen Oracle
Books by Zen Oracle
Most people desire the independence that comes with financial security. For most of us, that independence is acquired though careful investments of time, attention and money. Here is a process that has worked for generations.

Invest in Learning a Trade

In the beginning, select a skill you love doing and learn to do it extremely well.  Enroll in the classes required and study diligently. In the workplace, identify the best people in your field and try to emulate their techniques. Read all of the books, manuals and trade publications that are relevant. Most of all, practice constantly with the goal of becoming better everyday.

While you are investing your thought and energy in learning a trade, remember to save five to ten percent of every paycheck. You will need it later.

Invest in Learning to Lead

There is a limit to what you can accomplish by yourself. The most skilled craftsman in the world is limited to what can be completed by a single pair of hands in a day. If you want to achieve more, you must learn to lead others.

Leadership requires knowledge, optimism and empathy. Knowledge is important because people won't follow someone who is obviously wrong. Optimism matters so it is clear that you believe the mission is possible. Empathy is critical because people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. It needs to be obvious that you care about the mission, the organization and about them.

While much of leadership is a state a mind, it is also a learned skill. Pay attention to the leaders you admire and watch how they do it. Even if you feel you have a deep understanding of your field, this is not the time to cease learning. Continue to study the new developments in your field, but broaden your reading to include techniques in management and leadership and the biographies of great leaders.

By now, saving five to ten percent of your earnings should be a habit and your savings are beginning to accumulate. A stock mutual fund is the easiest way to ensure a return higher than the rate of inflation.

Invest in Learning to Own

For those fortunate enough to grow old, there will come a time when they no longer have the interest or perhaps the ability to actively lead every day. At that point, independence and security come through ownership. Companies pay dividends and continue to appreciate in value without constant supervision.

When looking ahead to this stage of life, it is important to make sure that the savings accumulated are deployed where they can earn the most. Unfortunately this is a difficult skill to learn because most of the recommendations in the news and most professional advice is wrong. As in the other stages, pay attention to the methods of those who have been successful: Shelby Davis, Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch.

Read the books, learn the basics and apply the wisdom acquired over your lifetime to develop a methodology and style that works for you.

Study is the Constant

Amazon probably appreciates this post because the one thing is remains constant through all of these stages is reading and learning. One of the books I am currently reading is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. One of the most remarkable traits of our greatest President is that he never stopped reading and never stopped learning.

What are you learning this week?

You might also like:

The Age of Creativity

Do Your Own Annual Review

The Thrill of Ownership

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