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September, 2012

Investing in Yourself: A Story of High Returns

By Garrett B. Gunderson

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and, after you were done talking, realized that you would never look at life the same again? If not, this will be a first. If you have, then you already know what you are in for because this is one of those life-altering conversations around money, investing and happiness.

Traditionally, when most people hear the word investing, they immediately think of stocks, bonds, real estate or some type of commodity like gold or oil. It's no mystery why when we have been skillfully trained by society, salespeople, and the media to have that exact reaction.

Now, I've got some bad news and some good news. The bad news is according to statistics, what you've been taught about investing doesn't work more than 90% of the time. The good news is that I'm about to show you a completely new way to think of investing so you don't have to be lucky in order to come out on top.

This new way of investing is by treating yourself as the greatest asset, only investing where you have influence and purpose, therefore investing in yourself. Surprised?

Think of it This Way

Investments like stocks, bonds or real estate are promoted as "tools" for growing your wealth. However, just like any other set of tools, they are only useful in the hands of a craftsman who understands how to yield wield them. When it comes to your personal finances, you are the craftsman so you will ultimately decide the outcome of your financial status.

Now you've maybe heard the phrase "invest in yourself," but let's go deeper and see what investing in you really means. Many doctors even think that because they have bought a marketing program or have been to a seminar that they have already invested in themselves, but it goes beyond just a program. It is a philosophy and way of being.

First, it is essential to recognize there is no such thing as a "risky" investment, only risky investors. Without a good craftsman (you), even the best tools (investments) are worthless and yield unacceptable results. In other words, if you don't develop yourself, your knowledge and your relationships around money, your chances of success are very low.

Let me start by giving some examples of investing in yourself and we'll use something simple like graduating from college. When you went to college, you spent a lot of time, money and resources to learn. As a result, you came out of school with permission to be a doctor and more prepared with new skills. As a result, you had a higher income potential than people who hadn't "invested in themselves."

An Example of Success

College is an easy example, and a great start, but you're probably wondering how investing in yourself rather than traditional investments look after school and over the course of a career, right? To explain this, let me give you an example of a very successful chiropractor in my program named Dr. Steve Windwer.

Dr. Windwer went to chiropractic school, opened his own office and became successful. Over time, he made enough money that he had to decide on how to invest those funds, and he split them in two directions: the stock market and himself and his business.

As time went on, Dr. Windwer saw the differences of what was happening with his investments. With the money going into the stock market he had concerns. He wasn't sure when or why his investments would perform or lose, plus it was costing him $20,000 a year in management fees, and there was no certainty or control of what may happen with the market in the future. All he could do what was hope that things would work out somewhere down the line. This lack of understanding, control and the high expenses not only consumed money, but also occupied space in Dr. Windwer's mind.

On the other hand, the money he invested into himself and his purpose driven business continued to pay dividends. By investing in the three key P's: People, Processes and Procedures. Through training, equipment, software and education for himself and his team, his office grew so he was able to open other offices. In fact, over slightly more than a decade, he went from a single office to eight chiropractic offices and 27 physical therapy locations.

To make this huge amount of progress, Dr. Windwer had to invest in systems for his company and, most importantly, in the best partners and team members possible. This allowed him to have leverage that would never be possible outside of his focused area of expertise, and the results were a testament to that truth. If he would have been taking the majority of his money to invest in programs and plans outside of his expertise, the funds to hire the best talent would not have been available.

Dr. Windwer also saw that just as he was his own best investment, other people such as partners, team members and outside relationships were also a great investment. He built systems to help the other assets (people) become more empowered, and everyone benefited from those investments. With this understanding of "relationship capital," he continued to grow his network and friendships leading to an even higher quality of opportunity and fulfillment in his life. He realized that working with and serving people who shared his common values and premise about life was rewarding, and he saw that these quality relationships were a benefit that he'd never receive from his stock market investments.

By investing in his businesses and his team, Dr. Windwer felt like he had control of what was happening. Even more importantly, Steve was clear about the purpose behind growing his businesses - helping people get healthy - and as a result, the fulfillment he felt about his "investment's" growth was worth as much as the financial results.

This clarity also allowed him to focus intensely around what he was passionate about and stay charged up where others may have burned out. His belief in what he was doing took precedent over trying to diversify into other, less important areas, and empowered him to become the best at what he set out to achieve.

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