You are an incredible person. How do I know? Well, I see where you’ve chosen to invest. Some days you probably feel like a super hero, but I am guessing that most days you feel very human. You go home at night spent – drained emotionally, spiritually and physically (and you still have papers to grade). As amazing as you are, there are still limits – only so many hours, only so much capacity, and only so much that you can control.
Successful Investors know that reward requires risk. But the line between calculated risk and recklessness is sometimes difficult to see clearly. Wisdom tells us to determine what our pool of investment capital looks like and then guard it vehemently. Draw a line that cannot be crossed. Set a sensible boundary. If we do, there will always be some reserves in the tank, and we will preserve for ourselves the opportunity to keep investing.
If you’re reading this hoping to find some blockbuster advice to maximize the return on your financial endeavors… well, I’m afraid you’ll go away hungry. I invest, but not professionally. I have a money guy that does it for me. I trust him. I have to, because I don’t really understand how it works. So, anything I say about investing is probably information to which you are already privy.
I see the opportunities we have as influencers (particularly with the impressionable students in our charge) as investment. It’s worthy. I know you believe it, or you’d be elsewhere getting paid what you are actually worth. The potential returns are huge. But so is the risk. The work of teaching and influencing is the most arduous on the planet, but there is joy and satisfaction in it that very few opportunities can provide.
It could be that your love for your students and the hope and optimism you have for their futures drives you to the end of yourself. The investing risk is very real. You are face to face with it every day. You work hard and leave it all on the court every time. You probably feel like you have nothing left to give most days. Seems like the right thing to do, but the problem is it’s not sustainable. Burn out is waiting for you at the next bend in the road.
This is why guarding our investment capital is so important. Not just in the monetary sense, but in the relational / influential sense. We must learn to determine what healthy reserves look like. We must be able to discern when we have taken all of the sensible risk we should. It is wise for us to keep a close eye on the fuel gauge so we don’t find ourselves suddenly out of gas – stranded and stuck.
If we wish to keep investing for the long haul there are some steps we must take to guard the capital. Consider these simple ideas.
Recognize What is Yours to Bear
Recognize that the burden of the success of your students is not exclusively yours to bear. That’s incredible and unrealistic pressure to put on yourself as a teacher.
You are Making a Difference
Know that what you are doing is making a difference whether it’s immediately apparent or not. Sometimes investment returns and dividends are deferred.
Time for Yourself
Be intentional about time for yourself. I know that there is a lot to do. There will always be a lot to do. But it is dangerous and destructive to fall into the trap of being defined by what you get accomplished rather than who you really are as a person and who you are becoming. Unplug regularly. Carve out space for yourself and defend it. The kids and the work of influencing will be there when it’s time to re-engage.
Listen to Your Body
Listen to your body. It’s telling you something. “I need more sleep.” “I need higher quality fuel.” “I need to move a little bit.” Don’t ignore these important conversations.
Share with Someone
Find someone to talk to. You are undoubtedly processing a lot. Find a trusted friend or counselor with whom you can share both your success and frustrations. Don’t be a stuffer. You need an outlet. Damming up the river of your emotions will lead to disastrous outcomes. Invite someone to help you process all of what you are feeling in healthy ways.
Thank you for investing! The reward will be worth the risk and effort. Guard your capital. Preserve your opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your students over the long haul.