Three Costs of Improvement

There is almost always a price, or cost, associated with improvement. And that price usually must be paid, before, we get the rewards that we should expect to come from the improvement. Many times, people are unwilling to pay the price of improvement, because they lack the ability to see a picture(vision), of what life could be like after the investment in the improvement is made. This principle applies with almost everything, businesses, organizations, families, relationships, and even our own individual personal lives.

The first cost is what most people think of when we talk about cost, money. Often, we get what we pay for, cheap or inexpensive, is not always best. For those of you who may not know, our family also operates a large dairy farm. We made an investment of over one million dollars in some strategic improvements at our farm over the last six months. It is sometimes painful to write out checks for things that you can’t yet see. It requires vision, which is one of the most important responsibilities of leaders, but also a level of faith. After a six month “cost” season in our dairy business we will now be able to transition over to harvesting the rewards of the investment in our dairy business. It is insane to think that we can skip the investment, or cost, and just harvest the rewards.

The same is true with organizations we are involved in, our families, relationships, and personal growth. If we are not spending money to improve them, we should not expect to reap the rewards, that can only come from first making an investment.

The second cost is something far more valuable than the first one we talked about, but most people don’t see it that way, time. Time is not something you can buy, we only get so much of it and that alone makes it very valuable. We all get 1,440 minutes every single day, or 168 hours per week, that we get to “choose” how to “spend”. And yes, spend is the right word to use because once time is spent, just like money it is gone. And like money, what we receive, will also be related to what we “spent” our time on.

I believe that another important way to look at how we spend our time, is by being more aware of what we don’t have because the hourglass runs empty. Almost everyone I talk to has something that they would like to do more of, but, they need more time. Every time we choose to spend some of the 168 hours per week that we are allotted, it takes away from the balance we have left which directly impacts our ability to do something else.

Over the last six months I invested a huge block of time in our dairy business improvements, that time had to be taken away from other things, which is the main reason you have not heard from Wagner Leadership Training in a while. Time is very valuable and like money should be spent wisely on things we wish to have a harvest in.

The third cost is mistakes, or failure. This is a big one, and can be looked at two different ways. Many people feel bad about making mistakes, and can only feel better about themselves, by not making them. It is true that there is a cost to making mistakes, but I would say that the biggest cost associated with mistakes, is not making enough of them! Some of the wisest people I know, are people who have made a pile of mistakes, what puts them in a special category is the fact that they learned from them, and became wiser because of it. The thought of failure paralyzes people, and they avoid them at all “costs”, not realizing the lessons they are missing.

Once again, I will take this cost back to the business improvements we just made in our dairy business. We tried some new things, and yes, we failed a few times, but we also learned each time, and have some exciting changes because we were willing to risk failure, and then when it happened we learned, adjusted, and then continued.

So, whatever is in your plans this year, I would encourage you to spend some strategic money, in a place that you want more harvest.  Do a time budget and be diligent about investing some of your valuable time, in an area that is important to you. And finally, plan to make some mistakes! Don’t get up each morning trying to make a mistake, but be willing to step out and try some new things knowing that you may make a mistake, and when you do learn from it, make the adjustment, and continue!

And if you need help, Wagner Leadership Training can help, it’s what we do. “We Grow People.”

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