Today’s column is going to convey some words of wisdom I heard last week while attending an investment conference.
At conferences like this you are always encouraged to take away a few solid ideas that can improve what you do, and how you do it.
One of the best pieces of advice came in the form of a story told by one of the presenters.
The story was about a logger who on day one cut down 14 trees.
During the next few days his production declined to 10, nine, and seven trees respectively.
He couldn’t get back to cutting down 14 trees despite his continued good efforts and ability.
Puzzled by his disappointing results, he asked for advice from someone he respected.
The answer was simple.
Don’t forget to sharpen the saw.
Focus on improving skills
The message to participants at the conference was: take time away from your business to focus on improving the skills necessarily to excel at your business.
In simple terms, learn how to do things better.
Focus on the client and their needs, and ensure you are delivering the best possible service to satisfy those needs.
Learn how to better articulate your services so clients are aware of all the things you can do to assist them.
In simple terms, learn how to be better.
Sometimes you need time away from your business to come back with fresh perspectives to improve your business.
In our business that means taking the time to take additional courses, to study how technology can help make us more efficient, so we can spend more time focusing on the needs of clients.
Take a step back
This same advice can be easily applied to individual investors. Take time to step back from what you are doing with your personal finances and look for ways to make improvements.
Ask yourself what is the most pressing issue for you to accomplish during the coming year. What skills are needed to accomplish that goal, and how can you better increase your knowledge? What do you need to do to “sharpen your saw”?
Do you need to develop new skills important to your financial success? For example: do you need a better understanding of how you can be more tax efficient?
Increased tax awareness can be gained as easily as investing a few hours in a Google search. That will lead you to the importance of making RRSP and TFSA contributions.
Focus on occupational skills
Maybe the skills you should focus on improving are the ones essential to your occupation. Protecting your livelihood with ongoing training is necessary in this ever-changing, fast-passed, world.
All of us have skills that could be improved. All of us could benefit from investing time and effort at improving these skills.
So, in the spirit of lifelong learning, look in the mirror and ask yourself how you can be pro-active at being better.
Perhaps the simple story of the logger will resonate and motivate you to identify an area of your life that could benefit from improvement.
Upgrade your skills. “Sharpen your saw”. Be pro-active in improving your abilities.