Invest and Diversify for Success!

By Brenda McCoy Hunter

As you probably know, this article is not about stocks, bonds or money. It is about building a better future and a better community. It is about developing social capital. It is about preparing to give-investing in yourself, giving what you have-to significant others, and recognizing that your deposits may go to causes and people outside of your life circle.

Investing in yourself is probably the simplest of these three challenges (of course, we should never confuse simple with easy). It means that you should use time and use resources to refill, refuel, and refine those assets that you have already acquired or wish to acquire. It may mean adding on to or completing what you started long ago. Investing in yourself means that you understand that nothing stays the same.

Career plateauing (flat lining) is a term that I found and challenged people with several decades ago as I led career development sessions. It defines what happens when you stop pursuing a goal or challenge on the job. It leads to burnout and decline. The scary discovery was that this condition moved across other areas of your life as well-outside the job-physical, personal, spiritual and social areas were negatively impacted. The journey doesn’t end when the job stops. Growth is a natural part of living and there is no stage where you stop growing and learning and sharpening…going slower is acceptable. Two quotes that spurred me on earlier: Mark Twain’s: “The person who does not read good books is no better than the person who cannot read.” and from the children’s corner: “When you’re green, you’re growing; when you’re ripe, you’re rottening.” The books and literature you continue to read, the people you meet and experience, and the new activities in which you engage are all investments.

As you invest in yourself, you bring something to relationships and situations to share…Investing in others means giving and sharing. It didn’t appear controversial to me; but, I occasionally encounter someone who argues ‘what for’. So let me begin by sharing the statement that keeps me focused in the event that I forget my spiritual mandate: “If you don’t reach down and lift them up, the sheer weight of them will pull you down.” It is not an original statement, but one that challenges me on many levels. If you have disengaged from the work force, you may look at the activities that you wanted to get involved in but didn’t have the time. You may look at a neighborhood issue that needs the knowledge and leadership that you have acquired over the years. There may be an issue that needs to be addressed and you are now available to give time to it.

On the subject of diversifying, I will just reiterate that the world has changed. There are many reasons not to invest all your ‘eggs in one basket’. The greatest is that the basket may cease to be. You should not limit your relationships and giving to people in your age-group, neighborhood, congregation, social club… you get the picture. You never know who holds your card, will hold your hand or answer your call. f it they are in your space, it is probably for a reason; give unconditionally.

In closing this conversation, I want to be completely real about this call to giving and investing: You may not receive pay, acknowledgement or appreciation for your work and contributions. You may give and no one will notice right away; but, remember that it is ultimately not about you. Hopefully your stream is being constantly filled and your need for appreciation met from inside. You are your greatest asset!

Brenda McCoy Hunter is a public speaker, trainer and the author of Answering the Call: Six Steps to Leadership and Service. Her flagship seminar, “Creative Horizons” focuses on succession leadership and offers an opportunity for pre-retirees to plan for success after their present job ends. She can be reached at 615-319-1223

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