CIO Leadership

The Self-Investment CIOs Overlook And That High-Performers Never Regret

CIOs are leaders, but not all are high-performers. The difference isn’t what they do themselves but what they do for themselves.

Joe Woodruff


April 4, 2024

Photo credit:
Blake Wisz

When I was a young man, I had a mentor tell me to “dig deep the well of myself.”

It sounded nice.

Did I mention I was young? I was also confident, gung-ho and good at what I did. To me, dig deep meant go fast and try hard.

Then another mentor came into my life. He told me that training beats trying. 

I liked that a lot, so much that it’s a personal value now. I trained well.

One day, life stopped working. Career frustrations, personal setbacks, relational irritants. Digging deeper and training smarter wasn’t doing the trick anymore.

What are leaders supposed to do when they hit the wall?

“If it’s going to be different, the forces involved need to be different as well.” Seth Godin

The Third Mentor

I have lived with the priority of being in community. I had confused that with surrounding myself with a self-improvement team.

Until a third mentor came into my life. 

“You talk about how every team needs a leader and every leader needs a coach.” I agreed, it’s one of my corporate values.

“You don’t talk about how every leader needs a team - not one that reports to them, but one that invests in them to be the leader and person of their dreams.”

“Tell me more,” I said.

“I work with professionals - athletes, actors, musicians, business movers and shakers - and the high-performers have one thing in common. They have built a team focused on aspects of their success.”

“They have physical trainers, nutritionists, vocal coaches, executive coaches, mental health professionals, counselors, financial experts, mastermind groups - whatever they need to stay on top of their game and their person.”

Then he said this: “Successful professionals who make it on their own are a dime-a-dozen. High Performers, though, never go it alone. They have invested in their development, and the return to themselves and to their professions are difference-making.”

“You have heard it said that we are the average of the top five people you hang out with. Nope. You are the sum of the team you build with.”

Game Changers Don’t Come Cheap And The One Mistake To Avoid

From that day forward, I value myself more and my time more by investing into my team: coach, group, experts. I am physically, mentally, professionally and financially healthy - because I didn’t go it alone, nor just rely on digging and training.

You are a game changer. You don’t come cheap. And game-changers in your life may not come cheap either.

For the most part, companies I have worked with have invested in me by paying for my team (providing coaches, mentors, trainers and groups). But not all of my team, nor have all of the companies I worked with done so.

I had to foot my own bill. Self-pay. Make it happen.

I have had to invest in myself, and so do you.

When a company says no to your request for development, you say yes. High-performers say “no” to distractions, not to development.

Too often, leaders say “yes” to time-sucks and life-drains and “no” to investing in themselves.

Don’t just be a leader. Be a high-performer. 

Come out of pocket if you need to; the change will make it all worthwhile.

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