Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

If you are in business, chances are you are familiar with the term ROI – Return on Investment. However, I have learned a more important term called ROL – Return on Life.

My good friend, Nido Qubein, president of High Point University, told me: “ROI is what we get back from investing money; ROL is what we get back from investing in ourselves.”

Qubein advised: “Cultivate a love for learning and a capacity for earning. These qualities are important ingredients for success, significance and fulfillment. But the things people really get passionate about are the things that come directly from their sense of service.

“Some people lead their lives a task at a time without meditating on where the series of tasks is taking them. Some live at the goal level, aiming toward short-term objectives without thinking of the big picture. But the happiest people are those who live their lives at the purpose level. Find a purpose larger than you and invest yourself in it. You’ll be gratified at the return on live that it yields. That is ROL.”

A formula that I have followed throughout my career is:

• Invest half of your work life in earning because you must have resources if you want to be able to give resources.

• Invest a fourth of your work life in continuous learning. You are not in school once in a lifetime; you are in school all your life.

• Invest a fourth of your work life in giving and serving.

It wasn’t difficult to put that formula into practice once I figured out how to allot my time. Like most people, my work schedule wasn’t as flexible as the other parts of this plan, and I knew I had more control over when I would volunteer and advance my education.

The rewards have been worth every minute I invested in my plan.

I knew my career choice would be demanding, but it couldn’t command all my time. So I started there. Launching a company had plenty of challenges and rewards. That part of the formula was in place.

Years ago, my father sat me down and gave me some of the best advice I have ever received. It had nothing to do with making money but everything to do with getting ahead in the world. It was self-help advice that really focused on helping others.

He told me that 25 percent of my time should be devoted to volunteerism. Not exactly music to the ears of a broke, fresh out of college, aspiring entrepreneur. Sounds like a lot, until you find a cause that you can get passionate about. Then, there will never be enough time.

Volunteering has made my life so much better, and I suspect that anyone who has become passionate about a cause will tell you the same thing.

Our country is seeing a volunteer need now the likes of which we have seen few times in our history. People who do volunteer work and help others on a regular basis have a healthier outlook on life. They are inclined to be go-getters and consistently report being happier and more contented.

And please remember, volunteering is a privilege. If you think doing good deeds will make you look like a hero, think again. Approach volunteer work as a chance to be useful and be grateful that someone thinks you are up to the task.

The beginning of the school year is my reminder to get back to school myself. Though it’s been years since I was sitting at a desk in a classroom, I get a little nostalgic when I see a school bus. I still take every opportunity I can to learn … and to teach.

Education is an investment and never an expense. I have always preached the virtues of lifelong learning, and I mean intentional learning. If I want to learn a new language, new software or a new hobby, or improve my golf swing or my knowledge of a country I’d like to visit, I forge ahead with purpose. I want to know more. I work at getting the best information available and putting it into practice.

Living in the information age makes lifelong learning easier than ever. Online classes, TEDtalks, YouTube instructional videos – you name it, the opportunities to soak up knowledge are unlimited on your own schedule anywhere you have Wi-Fi.

You can quite literally learn something new every day.

Mackay’s Moral: Don’t just make a living, make a life worth living.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.