“If you judge an elephant by his ability to climb a tree he will live his entire life thinking he is a failure” – Albert Einstein
“Everyone can be Super! And when everyone’s Super… no one will be.” – Syndrome from “The Incredibles”
We are all gifted unique abilities and perceptions, the problem is most will never discover theirs because of the current design for education. Standardized testing kills creativity in order to efficiently place people in a hierarchy. With the end goal of establishing who will do what when they “leave education” in pursuit of their occupation. But there are a few who beat the odds and pursue a different path, a path that leads to their vocation and purpose in life. A key to becoming one of those few is to never “leave” education. Never stop learning. This may be obvious to most but how often do you really engage in active learning? How often do you pick up a book or listen to a podcast, or rather how often do you read or listen to something that actually challenges your brain or is something that you know absolutely nothing about. We all think we never stop learning, but there is a difference in deepening those same grooves you have and creating new paths in your brain that didn’t exist. This is how you develop beyond automaton, doing what you have always done and getting slightly better at it. By pursuing challenging ideas and completely foreign concepts we will build an arsenal of creativity that will open doors we never knew we could open or even knew existed.
Developing an investors mindset goes way beyond just reading trade journals and industry news. You have to become an expert on everything! Yes everything! You must become omniscient. Ok so maybe not that level of knowledge but seriously you can’t ignore information outside your purview. To become an affluent investor you must become a collector of ideas and knowledge. Become obsessed with hobbies, business models, biographies of leaders and problem solvers, cultures, weird music, food, technology, politics, science, cars, construction, history, sports, art, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Don’t limit yourself to only knowing what everyone else knows, this gives you no advantage when you want to invest in an opportunity. It is both who you know AND what you know, and what you know will open more doors to the who that has the opportunity.
This past weekend my business partners and I took a trip to Terlingua, Texas down South right on the border of Mexico in the middle of Big Bend National Park. We stayed in a Yurt at the end of a very winding and difficult to traverse road completely off grid with solar power and rain water reservoir. We then drove to Marfa, Texas which was one of the most unique and bizarre towns I have ever seen. As we were walking downtown past art-deco style buildings that would look more at home in South Beach we wandered into an art gallery that only featured 3 works of art. But they were 3 building size original works by Andy Warhol. Right here in the dessert, hundreds of miles from the nearest Wal-mart but I was enjoying works by a world renown artist. Artsy doesn’t even begin to describe this fanciful oasis. Then our last stop was in the Davis Mountains at the McDonald Observatory where we attended a “Star Party” and had the opportunity to look at the night sky through 7 powerful telescopes and learn more about our solar system. During this trip it really began to solidify in my head the importance of seeking out opportunities even in my “leisure time” to continue to collect and build on my perceptions of the world, ideas for building a better me, and rounding out my knowledge of things I didn’t even know existed. This is what it means to develop the mind of an investor. Seeking understanding everywhere I go with the intent of becoming a better person, businessman, husband, father, son, brother.
This article has taken me 2 1/2 months to write. I started in October and this next section is being written in January. Still the same topic of investor mindset but forgive any non sequitur thoughts. Hoping this will create a fresh new line of thinking within the same topic.
I am finding it increasingly important to actively seek out others to engage with in life so I can both create value for them but also seek their differing opinions and ideas. Not just with business but life in general. Life hacking has become more and more popular and I am definitely more than a casual observer in ways to hack life to become more efficient, less stressed and have more joy. My moniker has always been, fun. If something isn’t fun, why do it. But now I see more purpose and value in seeking joy and bringing joy to other people’s lives. Sometimes that includes pure fun, but not at all costs or the type of fleeting, thrill seeking fun that leaves you empty and always looking for the next high. Fulfillment in life always starts with the small things, tucking your kids into bed, learning a new skill, cooking a good meal with a loved one, accomplishing a small household task that seemed overwhelming, taking family trips that are relaxing rather than squeezing out every possible exciting drop. There are millions of free ways to find fulfillment in life that also bring fulfillment to others. Once you have this as your basis, everything else falls into place.
When you align your life in this way, you are more open to possibilities and opportunities that you probably would have missed otherwise. Because now you’re focused on true value for your own life as well as your family’s and others around you. And this attracts the right type of people who want to be part of what you’re doing.
Another crucial part to this is having a mindset of both gratefulness and generosity. This may go without saying, but most people probably consider themselves to be grateful and generous, when in reality they hoard resources, time, money, attention, advice. They dole it out sparsely or only to those they like rather than sowing seeds far and wide where they can take root and grow to then produce more seeds to be spread even further. And yes when you are giving like this the seed will often go wasted, falling on infertile soil, but the seed that does land with the right person could grow so fervently that it surpasses any of the waste. So don’t plant sparingly. Ok I am done sounding like a King James Bible, but the truth works even in business.
Developing an investor mindset doesn’t happen overnight, nor will you ever finish, it is a life pursuit. This lifestyle is a rewiring of your brain to think in terms of investing rather than consuming. And this covers every area of life, not just business and finances. You can either consume your time on earth during your 28,721 rotations around the globe, or you can learn to invest your life into meaningful accomplishments that will carry on after your brief stint on this planet. I hope you choose to invest, so you and those around you can enjoy the dividends for centuries.