The Most Important Investment of All

An investment in yourself is an investment in the future.

A true statement. And the reason there is no shortage of motivational rallies, educational seminars, and inspirational speeches.

But why is it that some people attend these events or read these materials … and end up the same as before, while the lives of others are changed immeasurably?

I’ve attended my fair share of these events and spoken at a few too. Whether I am teaching from the platform or making notes in the audience, there are several steps I take in order to ensure that I get the most out of it. Here are a few of those nuggets; perhaps they will help you, too.

First, take a survey. Before you attend a conference, get an overview of the contents. Take a moment to scan the marketing material that introduces each speaker and his/her topic. Make a synopsis and a list of questions that you would like answered by the end of each presentation.

This gives you direction and generates laser-like focus, helping you to ferret out the answers you are looking for. Scanning the material that is going to be covered ahead of time gives you a sense of purpose.

For example, at the next AWAI Bootcamp, Brian Clark of Copyblogger fame will be one of the speakers. I am a huge fan as Brian is somewhat contrarian and also very successful. He is going to be talking about blogging.

I already have some preliminary questions like: How much should you blog; is less more? What is the ideal length for a blog post? Has social media negatively impacted blogging or enhanced it? What do you think is the future of blogging? These are just a few of the questions I have now, but more will come.

I will keep a separate page or branch (if I am mind mapping!) for each speaker with all of my questions. That way I can track what is answered and what isn’t.

Second, use a mind map to take notes along the way. Made popular by Tony Buzan, mind maps help you get information down in a way that shows you how each piece of information is connected to the other. It gives you a way to capture information at lightning speed while adding your own insights as fast as your hand or fingers will move.

You can do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper or utilize one of the popular software programs available for your computer or tablet. Once you are finished with your initial mind mapping of the information, take time to review it. It will surprise you just how many more “a-ha” moments you have. For more information on mind mapping, read my article here.

Third, ask questions. Have you ever realized that asking questions is how each of us really thinks?

Our minds are wired in such a way that when we ask questions, our brain goes to work looking for answers, filtering out everything that is unimportant or irrelevant. If you are listening to a speaker, ask your unanswered questions from the presentation during the Q & A times. Don’t be shy; others may be thinking the same thing as you. As a friend of mine says, “The only dumb question is the one that you don’t ask.” Good point.

Fourth, form your own discussion group. Get together with some likeminded people to discuss how the information can be applied in your business and life.

It’s no secret that most people learn more from interacting around seminar material than they actually do from the seminar itself. Why is that? Synergy.

Synergy is created when a group of people with the same goals and objective combine their mental and intellectual resources to generate better ideas and more creative solutions.

Getting together with others who have been to the same event and were most interested in the same presentation to discuss the “what, why, and how” of what you learned creates a rushing torrent of new ideas and applications.

Next, set some initial goals based on the new material that you learned. Make sure that your goals are always SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.

There is a popular axiom in goal setting circles that says, “A wish is nothing but a goal without a deadline.” As a writer, we’re used to deadlines. Those deadlines exert pressure and keep what we need to do at the forefront of our thinking.

So when setting those goals, give yourself a deadline on which to focus. That will create a sense of urgency. What if you don’t make it? You will still be closer to attaining it than you would have been otherwise.

Fifth, take massive action. Don’t do one thing, do 10!

You will create momentum that will begin to impact everything else you do. That motion will create more emotion and passion. And passion is infectious.

One time, I was challenged to write down a list, without stopping, of 101 things I was thankful for. I got to number 20 and then started to repeat myself. Somewhere around number 30, my mental limits broke free and I couldn’t write fast enough!

By the time I finished this “big list,” my mental focus had shifted completely to one of gratitude. Since that time, I have applied this same principle of “massive action” on several occasions in other areas with the same result. I once heard someone say that “momentum is much easier to steer than it is to start.” Generating this level of activity will get things going quickly

All of these actions are an investment in your future and, more importantly, an investment in you.

Zig Ziglar says, “What you become on the way to achieving your goal is far more important that what you get after you reach your goal.” To be the writer you want to be, start making deposits in the most important account of all: you!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: August 27, 2012

3 Responses to “The Most Important Investment of All”

  1. Thank you! This is very inspiring (all these articles are, and one can see AWAI really goes to a lot of trouble to encourage members),and I hope to apply this to my own writing. I am always afraid to take that step forward!


  2. Great article Bob. I'm looking forward to meeting you at Bootcamp and implementing your ideas!


  3. Where is the bootcamp taking place? How much $? Send me a link with all of the details please!


    Stuart Scesney

    Guest (Stuart Scesney)

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