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The 2% Investment Rule for Self Development

Submitted by on August 2, 2010 – 11:24 pm15 Comments


We talked about the 3 essential points to personal success in my last blog. Here, I want to talk about a 2% rule that I have followed for the last 2 decades that have contributed immensely to my personal success.

This goes back many years, when I was a customer engineering at Digital Equipment  (DEIL) India, I had just got an opportunity to move to sales and I really took it very hesitantly as I was not sure I would make a good sales person. But, my boss at that time convinced me that I was very trusted by customers and I would be able to put across solutions very effectively and would actually help them achieve their business objectives. So about a year had gone by as I transitioned to sales, when I realized that while I was quite effective in my new role, I always felt I was far from perfection.

I kept feeling the absence of inadequate training, felt I needed to communicate better, and most importantly I wanted to be more comfortable and confident in the presence of VP’s and Head’s of Departments that I had to interact with. I lacked confidence and always feared how I would fare in presence of senior executives. The fact was that I  had passion in my work, and I believed in what I delivered, so why were these butterflies in my stomach hindering me from going forward with confidence?

It was during one of my difficult moments where I was presenting my solution to top executives of a Coimbatore (India) based top firm in Textile machinery, that I realized that no amount of individual technical training will make a difference. Delving deeper into this thought, I stumbled upon the concept of what I call the Circle of Success. I charted the 6 keys areas for personal success. This is shown in the diagram above. Of course, this chart has also transformed to its present form with the passage of time to incorporate current needs, so what you see is certainly very different form that is a result of a few iterations.

I also realized that if I depended upon my organization to make me competent across all these areas, then it would a very long climb and possibly just a dream. I knew I had to do something myself and no one is going to be really doing it for me.       

It was then I decided to make investments on myself. I played around with making small investments in the initial years. These investments were in anything from a efficiency tools to improve productivity, webinars in communications or simply buying some really smart clothes that enhanced my personality. It did make an impact. I could feel people noticing, some commented, some wondered what had changed in me and most importantly I started feeling confident, assured and was making a mark of confidence.

However, I soon realized that even such investments needs to be structured and balanced across the 6 attributes across the circle of success. 

I finally zeroed in at the 2% model. I annually set aside 2% of my take home income on self-improvement & development. These investments could take the shape and form of anything as long as it impacted one or more elements in the circle of success. I did this religiously year after year. I balanced them based on needs and weaknesses I perceived on that year given my goals and job needs.

As an example, many years ago, I was weak in finance, and I knew to be a successful, I needed to get a grasp of the fundamentals in finance. So I invested in courses, books and focused in finance, starting with a course on finance for non-finance executives. The result, I gained competency, became confident in handling numbers and was able to build and run practices easily. I could successfully build and run the Operations Management Service practice with a book of business exceeding $100M for Compaq in Asia.  I even led successfully an acquisition which required me to be on top of my business numbers.

I even invested on courses that taught me business etiquette, tools that companies would never provide otherwise. Even today, I invest on lifestyle, clothes that make me look what I want to project. The point I am making is, it’s your life and so success is really in your hands. If you expect the components of success to come from your employer, you are just giving the opportunity to someone who will very soon overtake you. If you think personality development, physical appearances, productivity tools, social networking are not your priorities, you just moved the height of your ladder making reaching the top  a steeper and much longer climb.

I will in later blogs possibly describe some more details in each of these elements, but the profound change this brings into you, your confidence, your ability to grow, and your success can never be underemphasized.


  • Srinath says:

    Hi Dileep,
    Thanks for touching on a very important topic.
    It will all begin with the person investing time in understanding where one stands today vis a vis where one aspires to reach. And the onus is on the individual to ensure success.
    Every individual knows areas that can be improved with a little investment of time and sometimes money in order to provide him/her with a better chance at succeeding.
    I am reminded of the story I read somewhere on two woodcutters who worked the same job, but one was far more productive than the other. The reason being, the more productive woodcutter took time out to sharpen his axe every evening. It applies to all that want to succeed.
    Investing in personal development is critical to success. Research shows that the most successful leaders are the ones that invest time and money in: acquiring new skills needed, staying abreast of events in their area of interest, to gain new insights on subjects etc.

    Once again, this is a ‘Must Read’ post for people at all levels.

  • Dileep says:

    Srinath, thanks for your comments. I really liked your woodcutter example. I would love to use that example in my coaching sessions and in one of my subsequent blogs. Hope that’s ok with you.

  • Srinath says:

    Hi Dileep,
    Feel free to use it. It appears that a version of this story also appeared in Steve Covey’s ‘7 habits of highly effective people. I am not sure though if it can be attributed to him.

  • nagi says:

    Hi Dileep,

    Chanced upon this just today. Cannot agree more. Still learning from you.. 🙂

    I can relate to what you said as one transitions from one area of expertise and comfort to a different area. I think investing in these soft areas is important and many of the skills needed do not come naturally to many of us who come from the technical side.

  • nagi says:


    Good to hear from you. Thanks for your comments. Hope to meet up soon.

  • Dileep says:

    Great hearing from you. Thanks for your very good inputs.

  • Ashish says:

    Hi Dileep,

    Very informative….It is amazing that as less as 2% investment over a period of time on yourself can do wonders.

  • Dileep says:

    Thanks Ashish, yes, it is a simple idea but very effective for sure.

  • Rishi Joshi says:

    Hi Dileep,

    I am very much impressed, like all the others who attended today’s CSP Floor meet in Mumbai.

    In past one month I was thinking of how to make a difference in my life, not just a carrier growth, but personal growth is also equally important for being successful.

    I genuinely agree with you that this 2% Rule would definitely play an important role for your personal development and help you overcome the obstacles.


  • Dileep says:

    Thank you Rishi, for taking the time to attend the session. I am also glad to note that you and others enjoyed the session. I have been using this idea for many many years now, and I see it as a simple but very effective strategy to invest in oneself. Hopefully, we will get more ideas from others on this channel that will be helpful to all.

  • Suresh Durairajan says:

    Hi Dileep,

    Thanks for these kind of articles, these are the areas normally people like us (techies) are not giving much importance and they will not realize what they loose (like me)… Now I am seriously thinking about the same, Thanks a lot.

  • Awesome! I really like the article you have shared. I think, I should follow this method and find if it can help me deal with my personal life. Do you have more articles to share? I will appreciate it more.

  • Dileep,

    This is a very good post. I just came across this only today though I notice that you had written it almost 2yrs ago. And it is very relevant even now and I think even for years to come what you have written will be very very relevant. It is very inspiring as well. I had good take aways from this blog.

    Thanks you for this.

  • Dileep says:

    Thank you Srinivasan for your appreciation.
    You are so right about it’s applicablity even today. I got prompted to write and share this as I saw many of my colleagues and friends feeling frustrated and blaming their organizations for things not happening. At the end, it’s our careers and we should invest in ourselves, without waiting for things to happen.

  • Dhurairaj says:

    I am very much impressed Dileep. After 18 months or so I am reading this and want to follow, as I feel I may have made a mistake and is probably the reason that I am still a techi due to lack of these entities. Thanks Dileep please share any other vital things like this.

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