Thursday, January 15, 2009

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The World's Best Investment


The fact is, that I have never been motivated by money or wealth; rather I have always been driven by my passion for the martial arts and other things that lift my spirit and inspire. So about ten years ago I made the decision to go and talk to a couple of financial advisors to help me get a better grip on money matters and all things pertaining to financial independence, etc.
The first lesson I learned was that it is very difficult to obtain independent and unbiased advice; most of these people are out to sell you something. As soon as I realised this I decided to take a different approach. I sought out two different advisors and explained to both that I wanted to pay for a one-time advisory session and that they would never see or hear from me again; I wanted their unbiased views. The end result of that approach was that they both pretty much told me the same thing. And ere it is for those who are interested – free of charge might I add.
Firstly, pay off all credit card debt; that is real a killer. Secondly, start a savings plan and be disciplined about it. A good rule of thumb is to save ten percent of everything you earn. Thirdly, start a Superannuation plan, the tax advantages of this are considerable and later on when you turn 55 or 60 you will be very happy you did so. Fourthly (is that even a word?), buy a property (even if it means taking in two renters as I did with my first property) and start paying it down. When you have paid it down to the point where it is very comfortable, learn about leveraging off it to buy another one.
So pretty much that is it. Sure there were a lot of charts and data that these professionals took me through to help clarify the logic behind all of those strategies but basically that was it. One thousand dollars worth of advice, and I have never regretted paying for it.
Since that time though, I have come to understand an undeniable truth; one that both professionals failed to mention, or even hint at. It should come as no surprise really; because there I was taking financial advise from two people stuck in their offices, working a fifty hour week, and not looking al that healthy or happy. I am not impugning their advice, a lot of it was good; it’s more what they didn’t say that that is of greater interest to me nowadays. And here it is …
In my view, the single greatest investment you can ever make is the investment you make in yourself. I know a whole lot of very successful people and they all have one thing in common – they continually invest in themselves; physically, emotionally and mentally! I have long since allocated myself a ‘self investment budget’; and I spend every cent of it, every year! When I look at the return that different investments have given me over the years, my ‘self investment budget’ has returned me well over 1000% per year.
Now most people who take up martial arts practice are doing just this, they are investing in themselves. I think that’s fantastic! The paradox though, is that many, many martial arts instructors I have met seem to have let this slip and are failing to continue in the self-investment process. They were doing so when they were students, but once they became ‘teachers’, it all came to a grinding halt. Agggh! (I am sure that’s a word)
My last four weeks have been full - just before Christmas I took a plane to new Zealand to complete my end-of-year seminar circuit over there. Every single one of the schools I visited was run by an instructor hell-bent on investing in his or her further education as a martial artist. Every one of the students who attended those seminars is doing the same thing. I applaud their commitment and their pursuit of excellence; and for these reasons and others, they are all friends of mine.
The day I finished in New Zealand, I took a plane back to OZ where I visited with my family for only three or four hours before jumping right back on another flight to Bangkok. I was there for ten days – INVESTING IN MYSELF! I didn't feel like doing it; because I was very much missing my family and besides, it mean't spending even more time away from my school and my students; but I needed to do it. That self-investment budget must be spent; and spent well!
Martial arts instructors (especially school-owners) should all spend money, every year, on their own further education. It can be spent on professional curriculums (shameless plug for my own two professional curriculums); or on travel and training; or on learning about things other than martial arts; but it absolutely and definitely must be done; and it must be done every year.
Remember, the best single investment you can ever make in the investment you make in yourself. If you are a martial artist, some part of you already knows this to be a truth.
Invest wisely my friends - invest in yourself.
JBW

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1 Comments

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Hi John,

In regard to the financial advice, I would have loved to have known that myself 15 years ago! Strangely enough I did figure this out for myself recently, never to late I suppose. One thing is for sure, I will be teaching my kids about this as they grow up.

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