Sunday, June 3, 2012

Where have you built equity?

This is not a blog post about investing money. Well, at least not directly. Investment often requires some kind of monetary expense. But really, what I'm contemplating is the more important investment - how you invest your time. In other words, how you've invested in yourself.

Money is a great example of what I'm talking about, though. I think everyone dreams about a bigger bank account, in some way or another. But to do that, you have to start with that first few bucks that you stash away.

The same is true with your career. There are the people we envision have made it big overnight. Some people may even have that good fortune. But take any successful person you wish to emulate, and if you really listen to their story, you'll find that they had to spend some not insignificant amount of time building equity in their chosen calling. The kids who made it big at 18 spent most of their teen years learning programming languages, watching their peers set trends, or just generally putting time and energy into what they wanted to do instead of engaging in under-aged drinking or other teenage antics. By the time they were ready to graduate from high school, they'd perhaps spent 2 to 4 years already taking action on what they wanted to do in life.

It takes a special kind of focus and drive to do that at a young age. It takes a really special amount of focus and drive to do that as you get older. You take on responsibilities - a family, a mortgage. What you wanted to spend your time on and how you earn a living have become two entirely different things.  After all, you write because you love it, not because you want to earn money off of it.

But what if we realized that we could build equity in a career writing, or making art, just as we can in any other career, and that it could potentially end up paying off? One trap I've fallen into time and again with any business idea I try to create is that if I don't get an immediate payoff, I'm a failure, it didn't work, it's time to start over again. How many people might end up feeling that way about their first book? I know that's something that terrifies me. What if I publish this novel that I've been putting my time, heart, and effort into, and it doesn't go anywhere? 

And that's when it helps to remember that this is only the first step in a longer journey - a bigger career. It isn't a matter of clicking "publish" but what happens leading up to that, and what happens following that, which determines where you'll end up. It's the same in any career. There are a few people I know of that got the office in the sky with the six-figure salary after graduating law school (which may or may not be the blessing it seems), but most of the attorneys I know that are making the money and getting the cases in the fields they want to work in are those that stuck with it through the grunt work in the early years. The writers that are successful - whether Indie or not - are those that stuck with it after a flop, or have been writing for years and improving their craft until they got to where they wanted to be.

So, where have you built your equity?         

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