“Motivation alone is not enough.” – Jim Rohn
Last week I was invited to attend a motivational seminar. If you’ve read many of my posts, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a big fan of many things connected to personal growth and so, it won’t surprise you to learn that I was excited to go to an event which boasted a good line-up of speakers and some interesting topics.
The theme of the event was motivation and each speaker was supposed to be sharing materials that would encourage the audience to step up and take action. However, it became obvious early on that they were much more focussed on getting people fired up and excited than they were on actually giving them actionable material to channel their energy into. In fact the only truly actionable suggestions that were made during the whole day were during the 50 minute sales pitches, which were sandwiched between each 20 minute speaker segment.
Motivation Needs Action
For me, this is a problem because I believe the hallmark of a great seminar, keynote or presentation is whether it gives you practical tools and strategies that you can take away and use to make a shift in your life. It’s not hard for a good speaker to connect with an audience, build a rapport and get people fired up and excited about their own abilities and the possibilities that exist around them. Taking that energy and using it to up-sell a product or training course cheats the audience out of the opportunity to take action right away and instead reinforces the idea that they need more information, more training, more coaching before they’re equipped to take action. While learning more and developing skills is rarely a waste of time, it can also be mis-used by trainers as a way to foster dependency – each course you take leads to another opportunity to learn even more, by taking another course.
Related article: Principles of implementation
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken some great courses that were introduced to me while I was attending another seminar or workshop. I do think that selling can add value to an event but only if it’s accompanied by good quality, actionable content. I believe that anyone attending a workshop (or reading a blog post) should be able to walk away afterwards not just with an inspiration boost, but with real information and the tools to turn that information into actionable steps regardless of whether or not they bought anything.
Be Wary of “Shortcuts”
It’s like the proverb says: giving someone a fish feeds them for a day but teaching them to fish feeds them for a lifetime. Unfortunately there is money to be made in teaching people to depend on you for their fish and this is why the financial services industry has spent years convincing people that they don’t have the necessary tools and understanding to manage their own money. It’s not true. Managing money isn’t rocket science, it just takes a little knowledge, a little planning and a little discipline. However, one thing that became really clear to me during the day I spent at this event, was that a lack of knowledge makes people incredibly vulnerable to mis-information and far too eager to jump at the chance to take very risky short cuts to wealth.
Related article: Financial planning is a road map
Catch Your Own Fish
So how do we protect ourselves from being misled? In a nutshell, we need to get irritated by the fact that our lack of knowledge or lack of interest makes us vulnerable and we need to use that irritation as the motivation to get educated about topics that affect our financial health. Finally, we need to “catch our own fish” by stepping up and taking action; taking ownership and control of our finances. I’m not saying that you should become a financial whiz or take courses in taxes and accounting (unless you really want to!). What I’m suggesting is that investing a little time in understanding your personal cash flow, setting clear financial goals and making conscious choices about how much of your money is saved and spent each month is an investment that will pay you huge dividends. Likewise, taking the time to understand simple investment concepts such as compound interest and how management fees impact your investment returns will help you evaluate which institution you should invest your money with in order to have it work as hard as possible to grow your nest egg and not your advisor’s. You don’t have to become an active investor and watch your portfolio like a hawk; there are plenty of options for passive investors who prefer to take a more ‘hands off’ approach with their money. All you have to do is arm yourself with enough knowledge to protect yourself from people who are looking to profit from your ignorance.
The habits that lead to wealth are simple but not necessarily easy and, outside of a lottery win, there really aren’t any short cuts. However, that doesn’t stop people looking for them and it definitely doesn’t stop others from coming up with ways to profit from the searchers. To me, this seems like a darn good reason to arm yourself with a little knowledge!
If It Seems too Good to be True…
Each of the small pieces of information you absorb will combine to give you more knowledge (and more confidence). This means that (hopefully) if you happen to encounter someone on a stage, trying to convince you that no-one is making money from mutual funds but that you can average a 15-30% return by simply accessing a web-based tool that will tell you when to buy and sell, you won’t be tempted to leap out of your seat, run to the stage and hand over $99USD to learn how it works!
Related article: Building wealth is simple, not easy
So beware of people making promises that seem too good to be true because chances are they are! Instead, I challenge you to learn a little more about how you can put your money to work and get involved a little more in making sure that it’s you that it’s working hardest for.
If you have any thoughts, insights or cautionary tales you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!