The other day I was reading an article entitled "Investing in Your Portfolio" — which offered tips and advice for building a stronger financial base. This got me thinking about the reflection you should be doing about your work-related "portfolio" — the collection of assets that make up your career. It takes time and discipline to organise and attend to your career assets, and many of the same tactics that apply to financial investing also apply to investing in your own growth and development.
I believe there are at least six critical assets in your career portfolio — health, values, attitude, relationships, network, and development. Like the allocation strategy in your financial portfolio, you need the right balance of these assets to make your career grow and prosper.
Start with your health — it's hard to have a great career if you're not healthy. What are you doing to ensure your physical well-being allows you to be optimally productive? Are you paying attention to your diet, your exercise routine and your time away from work? Are you getting enough rest? Are you keeping stress to a minimum? Don't overlook the contribution a healthy lifestyle makes to your career. Investing time and energy here will pay big dividends.
Next, reflect on your values; these are the foundation of your career portfolio. When you come up against difficult situations or decisions at work, true back to your values — they'll guide you to the right answer. Leaders really only need to answer two questions when faced with a difficult decision: 1) what's the right thing to do? 2) what's the best way to do it to build sustainable results? Ask yourself these questions often, and you'll be putting your values to work.
Third, take stock of your attitude. Does it need adjusting? Do you need to make any changes to your mindset about your role, your boss, your company? Remember… how you view the world goes a long way toward how the world views you. Resolve to take your attitude to a new level, no matter where it is today (you know where you have room to grow here). Again, an investment in this part of your portfolio pays you back every day, with interest.
Fourth, invest in your relationships. How are you getting along with friends, family and work colleagues? Do you have solid relationships across these three dimensions? One of your greatest assets is a strong foundation of people you can talk to and trust. Build a relationship map; assign point values to the quality of your relationships within your regular circle of home and work colleagues (try a point system of 1-5 with 1 being "poor" and 5 being "excellent".) Notice where you have work to do — how can you allocate time and attention to these neglected relationships?
Fifth, build your network. Think of your extended network of contacts as a "nest egg" for your future. What are you doing to "save for a rainy day" in terms of expanding and developing your internal and external network? Your network is probably under-leveraged, and probably isn't getting the attention it deserves as a career asset. You never know when you might need it. I can assure you that any successful leader counts their network as one of their most important career assets.
Finally, keep making deposits to your own development account. You're responsible for your own growth as a leader. But you have to work at it, and finding the time will be a key determinant in taking your game to the next level. Put it this way — how would you like to come to work tomorrow with the same skill set you had 10 years ago? None of us would… that's why it's critical that you keep your skills up-to-date and always be growing as a leader. Keep learning and working on your leadership skills — it's an investment strategy that never goes out of style.
You're probably paying attention to your investment portfolio, although you may have taken a break this month from checking it. But are you doing the same with your career portfolio? Are you nurturing and balancing the assets that make you a valuable commodity in the workplace? When you think about it, your career is your future. Your health, values, skills, network and mindset are your greatest assets. So… what are you doing this week to invest in yourself?
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