Karl and Bob were good friends when they attended college. After they graduated from college, life happened and they slowly lost contact. They reconnected at their 20 year reunion. They were working for similarly sized companies, graduated with nearly identical GPAs and had the same work ethic. However, for some reason, Karl was two levels higher in his organization than Bob.

At lunch a month later, Karl mentioned he had attended a training seminar in Dallas the past weekend. Bob lamented that, with the downturn in the economy, his company cut back on training, and he hasn’t been to a seminar in years. Karl shared that his company had cut back on training as well but that he paid for the training himself.

Bob looked at Karl with a puzzled expression and said he didn’t understand how someone would pay for training out of his own pocket. It was an expense he couldn’t afford and besides, if the company didn’t pay for it, it must not be too important.

Karl challenged Bob to think again. Karl explained that since he started with his company, he has always taken additional training that he paid for himself. He didn’t look at it as an expense, but as an investment in himself.

Karl has the right attitude about investing in yourself. Your talent is your best asset. It can't be taxed; it can’t be confiscated. You can take it with you, wherever you go. When you invest your time and money to improve yourself and learn new things, it is not an expense – it is the best investment you can make.

Karl proceeded to explain to Bob the four benefits from investing in yourself:

1. Investing in yourself helps you

Investments come in the form of both time and money. You can invest in your mind by going to the library and getting a book to read to educate yourself in any area of improvement. This costs time, not money. You can attend training events that require an investment of time and money. You can invest in your health by investing 30 minutes a day to go for a walk. You can invest by hiring a personal trainer or joining a gym.

When you enrich yourself, you can feel yourself grow and will feel better about yourself.  It contributes to your happiness.

2. Investing in yourself helps those you touch

When you enrich yourself through your investments of time and money, you improve your relationships with others. Taking time to help others is not only an opportunity to be generous and giving with your time, it is almost always an opportunity to learn and grow, if you are present and "in the moment." You may learn new information, gain new insights into how people behave, or develop new relationships.  If I help you solve a problem with a spreadsheet at work, I will usually learn something as we figure it out. Instead of, “I have to help you out,” I get to help you out and learn. Our relationship improves, as does my knowledge base.

Your investing helps your ability to teach others. You can share what you learn and bring value to others. You become an expert in your “tribe.”

3. Investing in yourself helps your career

When you invest in yourself it helps your career in two significant ways. It increases your value to your employer because your skillset grows. Maybe more importantly, it increases your earning potential over your peers, who only receive the company funded training. This translates into you becoming a more valuable asset and deserving of increased responsibility, resulting in increases in job titles and compensation.

4. Investing in yourself helps your business

Should you choose, or be forced, to become an entrepreneur, the asset that is your talent is transferrable. When you invest in yourself, your understanding of your corporate business environment improves. You are better positioned to run your own business. You not only know what you know, but more important, you know more of what you don’t know and will have the mindset to hire people to help you, rather than try to carry the entire load yourself. You will see hiring help as an investment, not an expense. Your breadth of knowledge will help you develop new ideas for your business and will increase your chances of financial success.

Bob realized that, had he not been trying to get better on the cheap, his career might very well have advanced more like Karl’s. With another 20 years left in his career, he vowed to see personal training as an investment in himself, rather than as an expense.

Invest in yourself; Add Value to You

Learning doesn't stop with your formal education. Continue to read, take classes and invest in your talents. Your talent is your best asset. It is portable and it can't be taxed or confiscated.

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.

Walt Grassl conquered his crippling fear of public speaking at the age of 50, and through his Internet radio show, “Stand Up and Speak Up,” he is determined to help others do the same. Walt’s accomplishments include success in Toastmasters International speech contests, performing standup comedy at the Hollywood Improv and the Flamingo in Las Vegas. He is also the author of the book “Stand Up and Speak Up”. For more information on Walt Grassl,  visit WaltGrassl.com/.