A Personal Investment in Education

All photos courtesy of Horizon Forest Products.

By David Williams

What does education mean to you? For most of us, it was something we did because we had to and we couldn’t wait for the day when it was over so our “real lives” could start. Most of the time, education was just hard work that wasn’t particularly fun and didn’t give us any sort of satisfaction.

I am here to tell you that furthering your education, whether you are a recent high school graduate or a senior executive of a Fortune 500 company, is the most important investment you can make. It’s an investment in yourself and how you want to live your life. Education is not about short-term goals; it’s about the long term. It’s about focusing on how we can prepare ourselves to enjoy our lives 10 years from now.

How do we do this? Money may not be able to buy you happiness, but it can certainly support it. It can bring you the kind of happiness that comes from being able to provide for a family or being financially stable enough to travel the world. Making the decision of continuing your education may cost you a few more years of learning in a classroom,
on the job, or in an online setting, but there is a legitimate payout from making the time investment.

As the Vice President of a leading hardwood flooring distributor in the Mid-Atlantic region, I can assure you that while companies are willing to pay for good people, they are willing to pay a lot more for great people. The kind of people who are truly knowledgeable about what they do. The type of people who put advancing their knowledge above everything else.

Here is how I think about education: it’s simply an investment – an investment in myself. It’s an investment in myself that only I can make. If I’m willing to make the investment to educate myself by putting in the time and effort it takes to be an expert in my field, I will undoubtedly separate myself from everyone else. This drive to better myself to be the best I can be will stand out amongst others in my business and make me a force that any company would want on their team. And just like any return on investment, the value I place on my education will help me develop confidence and passion, which companies find extremely valuable and in turn will pay more for.

I am amazed at the difference between average people and exceptional people. I see it every day, and I am sure you do too. There are people who really know their business, and then there are others who are simply skating by and know just enough to get through the day. When it comes to business, you naturally want to work with those who know their craft like the back of their hand because you are more confident that they will deliver you a quality product or service. Anyone who delivers that kind of confidence to your customers is going to be well worth the money paid to have him or her on your staff.

This is what happens every day. Like a moth to a flame, customers seek out those talented individuals who make them feel confident about their purchase. If you have competitors that have invested time and money in education, they are getting more business and making more money than you are. I see it all the time; great people and businesses that are excellent at what they do excel further because of what they have learned. Simply put, people want to buy from “experts” and are willing to pay for it.

I am a strong believer in going the extra mile and bettering myself and my team to be experts. So when we call ourselves “The Hardwood Experts” here at Horizon Forest, we mean that we are constantly learning and studying our craft so our customers can be confident in our ability to provide them with the kind of knowledge that only comes from years of hard work and experience. Not only do we invest in the education of our salespeople, but also we invest in our executive leadership staff because we want to cultivate great leaders of the industry.

Our leadership team at Horizon Forest Products is finishing up a study in John Maxwell’s book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. We have taken six months to do a weekly study through this book, chapter by chapter. The time and effort our leaders make to better themselves shows the rest of our company and our competitors that every day means every day for us. We are not in business to do adequate work; we strive to be the best every day. This means that we are consistent and intentional with how we spend our time. Do we stop learning when we think we know enough? Never. There is always something more to learn. For me, it is truly exciting to see our people learning because it gives me validation of our ability to provide the best knowledge to our customers.

So what about you? How can you better yourself with education? You can take a class at a community college or study a subject online. It can even be as simple as picking up a book on a subject or genre you are interested in learning more about. You could try a new hobby or watch a documentary series. Listen to an audio book. There are also ways to learn new things when you visit another city, country, or continent. There is so much you have yet to learn, so find something you are passionate about and invest in yourself. Become that person that people want to have on their team and success is sure to follow.

Remember, it all starts with you. So make 2019 a great year for yourself.

David Williams is Vice President, Horizon Forest Products, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. He can be reached at dew@horizonforest.com.

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