Investing in yourself. Do you really believe that?

“How much money have you invested in yourself in the last three years?” The silence following this question is deafening. This answer is sooner the rule than the exception. I often pose this question when someone tells me that investing in himself means everything to him, and it hardly happens that someone has an answer.

‘Investing in yourself’. It sounds wonderful, powerful even. It seems to express a statement that says: I am worth the investment! All the more surprised I am when someone turns out not to invest even one euro in himself.

The boss pays, so it’s the boss who invests!

In practice it’s the employer that’s supposed to do the investment. “Because when the employer does not invest in me, I am gone” (expressed with the same conviction as the employee wants to invest in himself).

I find this such a fascinating phenomenon. Why? To show this I will take you on a field trip to the world of the ‘real’ investments.

What is investing actually?

The idea of investing is simple: you put money, time and/ or other means into something with the expectation that it will deliver more (financial) benefit in the long term.

The logical benefit that comes to mind then is that you will earn a higher salary or build a better pension. The point in this definition is not so much about the investing itself, but about the person that does the investment. That is the one that can have the expectation of the benefit on the long term. And that is clearly the employer. The benefit that the employer expects is that you will increase your performances. That can be for the short term, but also for the long term. The longer the term, the higher the odds that the invest will be paid back. So next to better performances there is the value of retention (keeping you as an employee as long as possible).

Isn’t it time to look differently at it?

Sounds logical, but do people actually still want this? Do you want this? It used to be normal to work for one employer until your retirement. But that is a dying breed. Organizations can not promise that anymore and more importantly employees themselves wouldn’t even think of it. Five years nowadays is long.

In this light it is logical that organizations are starting to question whether they still should invest so much in employees knowing that they are likely to leave the organization in a few years. When the long term value diminishes or disappears, then only the short term value remains. Which means that the employer can set demands or expectations for the employee towards delivering better results.

The long term investments have therefore become more in the interest of the employee. How will you make sure that in the near future you will also do the work you like to do? How will you invest in that?

Do you dare to invest in yourself?

By saying that you expect your employer to pay, you won’t make it that far anymore. You are now in the investors seat. And yes, a training of € 3000 is suddenly a lot of money. Just as much as when your employer paid for it, only know you feel it yourself. And that is a good thing. It really makes you think. But it requires you to shift your focus from “what it costs” to “what it’s worth”. Is it worth investing € 3000 euro in yourself? Do you believe that you will benefit from it on the long term? It is not for nothing that investors ask an entrepreneur how much they have invested themselves in his own company. It’s not about the euros, it’s about the belief the entrepreneur has in his company (and in himself). So how much belief do you have in yourself and how important is it to you to invest real money in yourself?

And out of experience I can tell you that really investing in yourself you also benefit on the short term because of the powerful feeling it gives to you. It gives you a feeling of freedom and autonomy. That alone is already worth the investment.

Are you prepared to invest in yourself? And what makes that you either do it or not?

In the coming blogs about this theme I will talk about risk appetite, Return on Investment and investment sources. Want to receive these as the first in your mailbox? Leave behind a comment with “investing in myself” or send an E-mail to info@schoolformastery.com.

The future of………You!

Everywhere around us there are events about: “The Future of…..”. The Future of Finance, of Work, of Retail, of Health Care and so on. Apparently we are eager to learn more about the future. Everything around us is changing which means that nothing stays what it was and will not return to how it was. But what then?

Certainties disappear.

We prefer to have clarity and certainty because that gives us peace. That’s what we are used to. We are taught to get that feeling of security from external factors like a fixed contract, a job title, a salary, the brands we have worked for or are working for or the performances have reached in the past. But in the last decade these factors have lost this value.

A fixed contract does not give us a guarantee till retirement anymore (apart from the question if we still want that), job titles have become more diffuse and unclear. A lot of starters already call themselves CEO when they register at the Chamber of Commerce. There goes the classical career path to the top! A great salary has become a golden chain (and we are hoping for a great departure scheme). And where you first worked for a dreamed corporate where you thought a successful career was settled, this now has turned against you in finding a new job since you are not flexible or innovative anymore.

The future isn’t certain either.

So in all areas is becomes clear that the certainty we once knew will not come back so then it makes sense that you want to learn more about the future and you attend these events. But often you will be disappointed because the essence of most of these stories is that the world around is becoming digital faster and stronger and it’s changing the essence of work. Probably your work will disappear and you will lose your job. OK, that’s not what you wanted to hear. Or is it? What you can actually conclude is that no-one really knows. The only thing that is clear is that everything is changing. And so it is important to change your perspective on certainty too.

Certainty from yourself.

When we can find less certainty from external factors we will have to get them more from internal factors and therefore from yourself! But aren’t we doing that already? Everyone is developing their “talents”. We want to do what we like and what we are good at. In practice however it means that it needs to happen quickly and easily since we are “so busy”. Besides we expect our employer to pay for it. Why on earth should we invest in ourselves?

Invest in yourself structurally.

Developing your “talent” is not gonna help you. The question you first need to pose yourself is how valuable you see yourself and how willing you are to structurally invest in yourself. Next to that it is important to gain more insight in what you have to offer in terms of vision, knowledge, skills, experience and so on with which you can make a difference. How strong are you applying and developing these every day again and again? And how will you make sure that you have the impact that matters? Not just now, but also in the future?

Learn because you want to.

These were quite some questions and in the fact lies the heart. By asking lots of questions you will become curious again, you acknowledge that you don’t know and above all you realize that you still have a lot to learn. Just learn again as you did as a child, because it was fun, because you grew in your capabilities. And of course it was sometimes frustrating, but the bigger was the satisfaction when you mastered something at a certain moment. To which extent are you still learning like this?

So start learning again, not because you have to but because you want it yourself. Because it makes you human and because it gives you the opportunity to mean something for customers, colleagues, society with what makes you unique.

Foto David Legreve

At your next “Future of…”-event.

The strong thing about trendwatchers that tell you about the “future of…” is that they have started to look around them based on their own interest and vision. They have started to wonder what is happening, what is relevant for them and reflect on what might happen when you tie several developments together. In that way build an image for themselves (and you) based on which they can make new choices. They don’t do this because their employer asks them to do it, the do it because they want it themselves.

So when you are attending a new “future of”-event don’t just listen and consume. Sit down and continuously question what the story may mean for you and your profession. What can you do with it, what do you want to do with it and how can you use the information to not only get more out of your work but also be better prepared for the future of work and above all the future of you?

Design: Ellen Oosterhof

Are you organizing an event about “the Future of….” And you want your participants to leave inspired instead of in shock then The School for Mastery has developed a story called “The Road to Mastery” especially for this purpose.

For more information: info@schoolformastery.com. 

What art do you create?

If you talk about mastery you quickly end up in art. Art is well known to be connected to mastery. When I developed the School for Mastery I wanted to learn everything about mastery, so I went to the Mauritshuis and the Rijksmuseum to learn and be inspired. What struck me was the immense diversity there is simply in painting. In essence it is sticking paint to canvas. But the ways in which this can be done are infinite. A painter can play with the types of paint, the colors, the painting techniques, the different ways in which paint can be applied on the canvas and so on.  
What makes it a piece of art is the way the painter himself does this. In a piece of art you see someones vision, skill, experience, commitment, emotion and style. You see the result of all these combined in one clear visible product.
Another thing that struck me is the fact that a painter experiments with different techniques and styles. The artist also dares to choose a style in which he or she distinguishes oneself by continuously applying and developing this style, while learning every day to become better.
Painting is one way of creating art as we know it and there are many more ways to create art. But is it possible to transfer the principles of art to other fields of expertise than the ones that are common? What is the art that you are creating in your work? In order to really explore and understand this I had to start wondering what kind of art I am creating myself.

My first conclusion was that I don’t create art. I realized that I was too busy in my work to say that I create art. I was answering E-mails, doing phone calls, dealing with lots of short term demands and trying to finish a never-ending to-do list. I noticed that I was letting the quality of my work depend on the result of all the elements above and my ability to deal with all of them. That’s not art, that is chaos and mediocrity. That was a shocking and confronting experience.
When I started to look deeper I was able to find some hints that do reveal a certain signature and style. There were results I had achieved that make me proud and which make me stand out. There were lots of moments in which I had an impact on people and there were tokens of appreciation that I had received from people because of the way I had helped or inspired them. All of these came out of moments in which I was training or coaching people and in which I showed myself as Jordy.

I then decided that I wanted to create art myself to learn more about this. And a clear product in which that could become visible is a “simple” workshop. So what would happen if I start creating workshops with the mindset of creating art?
Upfront I decided that I wanted to create the workshop as being a creative activity. I want to enjoy the process of creating. This meant that I did not give myself any time limits and I only work on it when I want to. As if I feel like painting and go to my studio to paint and make something beautiful.
It is about creating something that is part of me and in which I develop my skills and knowledge at the same time. An activity that I look forward to and enjoy while doing it.
Then I started to think about the topic and conditions of the workshop. I made a list of all kind of topics that are relevant for mastery. The one I decided to start with was “Focus”. I am so much intrigued by the fact that technology is said to make our life much easier, but at the same time people seem to make it more and more difficult. People are always “busy” and are led by their inbox or telephone, while at the same time wishing to have a purpose or passion. Why is it so difficult to set your own course and keep it? I also realized that by choosing focus as the topic, it will help me build and keep my own focus in order to set up the School for Mastery. I also decided that the workshop should not last longer than 1.5 hours. So with a clear topic and strict conditions upfront I could start.

I first started to read lot about focus in books and articles. Some books I read over and over, I made summaries and notes and made summaries of the summaries. Until I felt that I knew enough about focus to start building.
I developed a story line about the main things of focus I want to integrate in the workshop. When I had built the set up I put it aside to let it rest. After a while I picked it back up, looked at it and made adjustments or read some more. Once the story line was clear I wanted to build a presentation that told the story in clear pictures. Just finding the right pictures took me many, many hours of searching. This was possibly the phase that took the longest, but I fully enjoyed it to sit on the couch browsing pictures for hours and hours. I completely lost track of time while doing this.
In order to make it a real workshop and not a lecture I then had to work out all kinds of activities and assignments that could best help people really learn about focus. Once this was done I could start adding the details and the design and this is the phase that I am currently in.
This also means that the workshop is about to be put to practice! I start to feel the energy to start making the workshop work in real life. But still with the mindset of creating it even further. It is definitely not finished yet, but it is almost ready to offer it to people and learn more while putting it to practice.
I started building this workshop now more than a year ago. In that time I have learnt a lot about focus, but more importantly I have learnt a lot about developing mastery and creating art in its essence. And I can tell you it is very energizing and fulfilling because I am making something unique that is part of who I am and where I stand in my development. Hopefully this inspires you think about the art you want to create.
Since you have read this blog until the end I assume this is a topic that intrigues you. Therefore I want to offer you the opportunity to participate in one of the try outs of the workshop Focus. If you want to help me develop the workshop even further towards a masterpiece and you want to learn more about focus you can send me an E-mail or post a reply to the blog below and I will let you know when the try outs will be organized.

Thanks for your focus and attention.

Jordy

Living the School for Mastery myself

A year ago I decided to quit a wonderful job to set up the School for Mastery. I had already developed the idea in 2014, so it took me 3 years to dare to make this bold choice. And so I instantly became an entrepreneur, which had never been part of my development goals before. But it made sense. I had built a lot of experience in talent development and I had seen the impact I have had in all those years and how people valued the way I helped them in their development. People also valued me for my refreshing view on personal development. They told me I gave them the feeling that they matter and that I help them grow what makes them unique. And with their uniqueness they can have an impact. It was so rewarding to hear this and I realized that this is what I want to do and what I have to do. I want to make this available for as much people as possible. And the best way in which I can do that is by setting up a business myself that is built on my view on personal development: mastery development. 

The name School for Mastery made logical sense because it simply shows that it is about learning mastery and about bringing people together and contributing to each others development. So from day one I started to tell people that I am building a school. And people responded positively and really liked the idea. And I noticed that being independent felt so energetic, I could spend all my time available on the things that truly matter. The first assignments came quickly which gave me the confirmation that I am doing something that is valued. But once those assignments were finished there were only a few new assignments. And they were not sufficient to be a solid basis with which I can support my family and build the school at the same time.

For the first time I started to feel the other part of entrepreneurship: the uncertainty. In the mean time I also received more often the feedback that it is not really clear what I am offering or that people miss one important element in the School for Mastery: me. But why me? It is not about me, but about the people I want to serve. So you can imagine that I started to feel frustrated. Uncertainty and frustration may not seem to be really comfortable. And believe me, they aren’t. But I noticed that they make me feel alive. They make me realize that I am learning every day and that I haven’t been learning so much in the last few years as I am learning now. This is what mastery is all about: learning every day so I can have the unique impact I can have, now and in the future. It is not about reaching an end state of mastery. It is a way of life!
So if I want more people to benefit from this way of learning I need to let people know that the School for Mastery exists. I therefore need to learn all about marketing and do that on a daily basis. And I want to find the right way so that it connects with the School for Mastery and therefore me. I approached several people to help me deal with the questions I had. My main challenge was that I wanted to market something that is part of me. It felt like marketing a chocolate bar while being the bar myself.

One feedback I received was very valuable. My coach told me that my message is that companies can have the biggest impact if they let people be their unique selves in their work. So why wasn’t I doing that myself then? Why wasn’t I accepting that I am the School for Mastery myself? If people want to know what the School for Mastery is all about, they need to know what I am all about. This was exactly what I needed. I was afraid that people may perceive me as being arrogant and that it is all about me, but that has never been the case, so why would it be like that now? But people do need to see me in order to value what I am offering.

So to make it clear to myself and everyone else: I am the School for Mastery!    I live mastery myself already my whole life and I connect with people that also live mastery and who contribute to the School for Mastery. And if you may wonder why I am so open in this blog about my learnings: this is what mastery is all about. Learning every day, being open and vulnerable, helping others and dealing with uncertainty and challenges while having an impact that is bigger than yourself. Being successful is only valuable if you accept and deal with the challenges and difficulties on a daily basis.

So if you feel that mastery can help you too then you know where to find me and I’d love to help you develop your mastery too.

What matters to you so much that it is worth to focus and learn every day?

A new type of school is needed

The reason for me to be intrigued by mastery was that I saw many changes happening in society and the job market. In essence work is expected to change a lot more towards the future than it has been changing in the last decades. It is called to be the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The previous one involved the transition towards new (mass-) manufacturing processes in 18th and 19th century with the rise of corporations and factories. This one is about the technological revolution and how it will impact our lives. It is not simply the automation of work, how robots will take over jobs and how jobs will disappear. It is also about how the technology will impact the way we live, work and connect with each other. Technology is for instance helping to create better treatments for all kinds of diseases. The current life expectancy of my children is already expected to be around 90 or 100. So if we then look at the current pension age of 67, this means that society (and therefore us) will have to pay for about 25 years of pension. I’m not a math wizzkid, but I can tell you that the current way of looking at work and pension won’t be sustainable. At the same time people will also become more vital and therefore are better able to work longer.

So if you start thinking about the implications of these changes for work and learning, then questions come up like:

  • How can we work for a longer period of time?
  • How does the concept of work needs to be changed to become more sustainable?
  • How can we keep on having access to work and therefore income in the future?
  • How can we as humans learn to deal with these changes?

These are for the long term, but what about the short term changes and current trends?

Flexibilization of the job market:

Although the previous changes may seem to take a while, they do come quickly. If you look at today there are also some trends that are already not in sync with the way work is currently organized. There is the system of temporary and fixed contracts. The main goal is for people to get a fixed contract, which implies that you will work for the same company until you retire. Nobody nowadays who enters the job market has that ambition. People even fear that if they start somewhere that they may end up there. I myself have already worked for 4 different employers in different fields, I have done a fulltime MBA in between and now I am an entrepreneur. And there are many more people that have started for themselves or are making switches more often.

Changing relationship between employer and employee.

Although it may sound as a no brainer, a lot of companies still act as if someone is not allowed to make a new step to a new company. Talking about a new job somewhere else is in most companies a no go. At the same time employees also dare not to openly speak about it and put a dentist-visit in their agenda when they have a job interview. In order for both companies and employees to be better prepared for future changes it is important that this will be changed. You can even change it to an advantage. If you become an employer that knows you will make a new step one day and wants you to have the biggest impact as possible in the time you work there, you take someone seriously. Chances are that the employee will be more committed and they leave as an ambassador. The biggest fear of employers here is that people may lose out on commitment. I think that it will be the other way around if you both start changing the assumptions of how you work together and what conditions both the employer and the employee need the be valuable to each other. Flexibilization is also known to be bad for employees because people are more easily fired. In my view this also shows that companies need to become more agile to adapt to all changes. So the flexibilization requires both employers and employees to build a new way of working together that is for the long term benefit of both. And I think that when employees dare to look fir their security less in the type of contract and more in themselves they will be better prepared for future changes since they start taking personal development seriously.

Meaningful work

What you also see is that people have a growing need on doing meaningful work. It is not just simply about getting the best out of yourself. It is also about having an impact. This can be as big as having a societal impact or as small as feeling valued for the value that you bring as a unique individual. You can say that we are reaching the level of self actualization in the Maslow-pyramid, which means that people aim to reach their full potential as a unique individual. But next to that there is also a growing awareness that we need to take care of our planet and resources. This is not just for all the people but also for the companies who are expected to have a more sustainable impact that simply shareholder value. People want to contribute to something more sustainable.

 

The way our smartphone impacts our life

Every day I am fascinated by how the smartphone has become part of our life. Everywhere you look you see people on their smartphones. It brings us access to an abundance of information worldwide. It has added a new dimension to learning because information, knowledge and inspiration is widely available. We can connect and interact easier with many people globally. At the same time it has made us addicted to our phone. It distracts our focus constantly and hinders us from having impact and attention.

Living an online life has become more important than living an offline life with real people and has the effect that contact is more superficial and people feel more lonely. We still remain human, we want to be seen, be loved, be meaningful and have lasting and real contact with friends, family and colleagues.
The question here is how can the technology support us to make use of our unique capabilities as human beings? How can we use technology to increase the impact of learning among real people?

Birth of a new school

In the previous blog I wrote that one of the shifts that can help us deal with the changes is to adopt serial mastery in our lives. I started to think about how we can learn to work longer and be better prepared for future changes. That is how I came to the idea of building a school where people can learn the mindset and skills that can help them develop and reach their personal mastery. A school for mastery. The mindset and skills we teach are relevant for everyone to change, transform and increase personal and meaningful impact. Skills like focus, making choices, self reflection, building meaningful contacts, etc. It will be a physical school where in several phases in your life you attend programs to develop your own mastery. The reason why it is physical is that I want to offer an environment that enables quality contact and builds meaningful relationships. People that contribute to the school do that from their own mastery and use it to inspire others.

Off course it will take a while to have the school built physically. In order to really build the school I will tell you next time what the building blocks will be.
In the mean time I want to finish with the following question for you:

How are you developing yourself towards future work and a future impact?

Film of World Economic Forum about the 4th Industrial Revolution.

 

Blog 1:

Earlier this year I started the School for Mastery. Since the concept of mastery is quite new to people I will write a blog in which I will explain more what mastery is about. I will do this by sharing my own development towards mastery or by sharing stories of mastery of other people. Each blog has the purpose to explain, inspire and help you reflect on your own possible mastery.

Have fun in reading the blog and in exploring your own mastery.

Planting the seed 

The crisis from within:

It was back in 2014. I was working as a talent manager for an international financial services company. It was my task to attract new trainees and help them develop towards positions as a senior leader or key expert. I had been doing that already for 6 years at that time.
What made the job challenging was the fact that in those years the financial crisis was impacting the company strongly. I had already experienced a number of restructurings with just as much different managers. Due to these dynamics it happened a few times that the recruitment was stopped and I only focussed on the development of the trainees. After two years however I hardly had anything to do because trainees had finished their traineeship.

Come up with something innovative

That was the situation in 2014. Doing nothing for a while may sound appealing but I can tell you that it only lasts for a short while. I was there to make a difference and that doesn’t happen by doing nothing. So I asked the HR-director what I could do to be of value. Her response was simple: Come up with something innovative! I was thrilled. I thought, wow, that’s cool!
Looking back it’s fun to see that I was thrilled with an assignment that was as unclear as can be. And although I could or should have asked more questions it didn’t even come in mind to do this. What actually had happened was that my question had resulted in permission to do whatever I think is relevant and make that valuable for the company. The fact that I had asked for permission shows that I wasn’t (yet) doing my work by applying my mastery.
After the permission I had to go through the uncomfortable feeling of not showing up at the office. Wasn’t I supposed to show people that I was working hard? Fortunately I allowed myself to not show up at the office sometimes for weeks.

Explore:

In order to come up with something innovative I realized that I had to step outside of my own working context. Or else I would constantly be hindered by “the way we do things around here” and not feel free enough to explore what more there is in the world.
By stepping out of the company I wanted to build a better understanding of what was happening in financial services, in the job market and in society at large. There were so many macro-economic developments happening that I wanted to understand these better and analyse what the implications of these developments could be for traineeships and talent development.

Read:

I read a lot about innovation and the future of work. One book I read that created a paradigm-shift was the book ‘The Shift, the future of work is already here’ by Lynda Gratton. She had already done quite some research about how work is changing and what it may look like in the future. The main thing I took out of the book was that she writes about 3 shifts that are vital for people and organizations to make to be better prepared for the coming changes in work:

  • Change behavior from being an eager consumer towards becoming a passionate producer.
  • Shift from being an isolated competitor towards becoming an innovative connector.
  • Transform from being a superficial generalist towards applying serial mastery.

This was the first time that I encountered the concept of mastery. It intrigued me so much that I wanted to learn more about it. What does it mean? In what way is this different than the current way of looking at talent development? And how can you adopt mastery in your development?

Learn about mastery:

I went to the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis to learn about the concept of mastery in the early days and what I could derive out if it for mastery today.  One painting that intrigued me for instance was the painting of Rubens and Vermeer called ‘The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man’  which is hanging in the Mauritshuis. A masterpiece created by two different masters both adding their own mastery. A beautiful example of cooperation in which the qualities of two people have created something they would not have been able to create individually.

Expand horizon:

I also realized that in order to really innovate I had to expand my network and meet people that came from different areas than HR and financial services and had completely different backgrounds and views on work and development. I started to visit places that didn’t seem to be logical at all. I went to airports, train stations, shopping malls, musea, walked in nature and so on. Doing this allowed me to look differently at everything and see the beauty of things that I normally don’t pay attention to. What also happened was that I started to see much more clearly what was so valuable in my own job and at my own employer, simply by stepping out and looking at it from an outside perspective.

Mastery learning:

By doing this I noticed that mastery learning can help people in all sorts of areas of expertise to develop themselves more independently. Learning is not dependent on what others think, but on what someone truly finds important and what someone wants to develop constantly and naturally. The focus is less on fulfilling certain roles or positions well and more on the tasks that you are performing. And how well you do those by making use of the skills and experience and the style and mindset you have that make you unique. And more importantly knowing why you are doing this? What’s the bigger purpose? This can help increase your impact and provide more meaning at the same time.

What can be my own mastery?

This brought me off course to the question: what could be my own mastery? What are the skills and experience that I have already built and in what way have I made a difference?

I have worked in different jobs in mental healthcare, sports, education and in financial services. In all jobs I was involved in training and coaching people. Next to that I created contexts in which the learning could take place ranging from a gym, a classroom to an office. And what people appreciated in me in all those jobs was that I was sincerely interested without being judgmental. At the same time I could be confronting and people always leave with a clear next step that fitted their own development. And finally people appreciated me because of the way I develop myself constantly and how I have dared to make choices a lot of people find difficult. And although I have developed myself quite a lot in all those years, these are elements that truly drive me and I definitely want to continue and grow even further. In what way I will tell you next time.

To finish this blog I want to pose the same question to you too:

What could be your mastery?