We often use the words spend and invest interchangeably. But the action created by these two words leads to very different outcomes.
According to Dictionary.com the difference between spending and investing is this: When you spend you “Use up, consume, or exhaust,” but when you invest you, “Put to use in something offering potential profitable returns.”
There three areas where leaders need to invest to be the best: Time, Talent, and Treasures.
Time – don’t spend your time, invest it. Warren Buffet has a great quote on financial investing that I think applies to how we should view our time as well, “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” If you want to be the best, you should only spend your time after you have invested your time in generating a return.
Every activity has the potential to generate a return. Investing your time means setting a goal for the outcome. Some of this can be subtle as you may well say you’re spending time reading. I prefer to think of my reading time as an investment in my education. With that thought in mind I am particular in what I read and I take notes so that I have something more to take with me then when I started. We may also say we spend time exercising. Again, I invest my time in exercise with a certain goal of improvement expected and being measured. Once those investments are taken are of I may indeed spend time reading a book only for pleasure, or take a bike ride only for the sights.
Talents – don’t use your talents, invest in them. We all have innate talents that if developed and applied properly could place us ahead of many in that specific area. Without the proper work investing in their development, many talents are just being used as opposed to making a difference.
Author of the Harry Potter series of books, J.K. Rowling said she “Would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” Note the focus on being the best she could. J.K. Rowling invested her time from a young age writing fantasy stories and reading them to her sister. As an adult, the idea for Harry Potter came to her on a delayed train ride. She immediately began writing and continued through her mother’s death, the end of her first marriage, and being on welfare to support her and her daughter. After twelve rejections from publishers, the book was picked up and the rest is history. Rowling never wavered in her work on developing her talent and most would agree did her best in this area.
Treasure – don’t hoard your treasures, invest in them. When we hear the word treasure we usually think of money, jewels, gold or other valuable possessions. While those are indeed treasured for many, I like the other ideas of treasures listed below that should be invested in if we want to be the best.
“Treasure your relationships.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
“Knowledge is the treasure of a wise man.” – William Penn
“Treasure the love you receive above all.” – Og Mandino
“Contentment is the greatest treasure.”– Lao Tzu
“There is more treasure in books than all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”– Walt Disney