In Launching Leaders Worldwide, we teach a class called Financial Fitness. This is not rocket science, but is based upon having the discipline to control expenses and save money. I will reserve the details for when you take the class someday, but aside from the picture of the graph I will share, there is a principle or two that could use repeating.
Let me tell a personal story. Years ago my wife and I had a dream to start a business. We didn’t know exactly what that business would be, but we knew it was the path we should follow. We counseled with our mentor, and we developed a five year plan; this was circa 1983. This would be the THINK part of our THINK PLAN DO class. We started with saving $25.00 per week, and over the course of five years, would increase this amount to have saved a whopping $50,000.00. The amounts are not important in this life lesson; but the idea is we started where we stood, and planned for a better future. This is the PLAN part of the equation. Our sacrifices included no credit card use, cheap dates, no new loans (except to purchase a home), and to do this with an attitude of gratitude. We agreed that we would remain positive and not complain about having no extra money to spend. In the financial fitness course, one learns about the “Gold” account, which is the savings that can never be touched except to re-invest. The money we would save to start a business was in the gold account. We enjoyed cheap dates such as getting a big gulp from 7-Eleven and two straws and go for a walk in the park. These were great times and we remember them fondly. Because we had a PLAN and were following the principles of financial fitness, we were able to ACT on the final step which is the DO part. Almost exactly five years after the start of the plan, we did have exactly what we had hoped to save, and started a business. We built that business over 27 years, and sold it. The blessings from that newly-wed commitment have blessed our family in untold ways.
I believe the millennial generation today would do well to understand that the best investment you can make in yourself is discipline and patience. In my example, understand the value of time and the patience to stick with a plan. It was very hard to sacrifice during the five years, we sometimes did not have enough; but we didn’t stop believing and we stuck with the plan. Another lesson is that your investment in yourself is the best investment you will make. I have lots of young entrepreneurs come to me with their start-up ideas. They always need money, and they are usually bold enough to ask me for a loan. I don’t give personal loans anymore. My wife and I didn’t borrow any money when we started the business. Our investment fund was our corpus. You never work harder to succeed in business when your own money is on the line.
Instead of taking your idea to an investor, why don’t you save your money for a few years and be your own biggest investor in yourself? You will learn the valuable lessons of thrift, patience, endurance, and discipline along the way, and there will be a greater sense of accomplishment when you do arrive at the various points along your journey in life.
I’ve included below both the original five year plan I mentioned (nothing like raw authenticity—please forgive its blur) and the Financial Fitness diagram from the LL course.